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With One Year Until Census Day 2020, Executive Constantine, Mayor Durkan, and Seattle Foundation Announce First-Ever $1 Million Regional Census Fund

$1 million Regional Census Fund will help Seattle and King County-based community organizations fund their preparations for the 2020 Census; First-ever partnership between County, City, and Seattle Foundation to support Census outreach

SEATTLE (April 1, 2019) – Joined by community members at Seattle’s El Cento de la Raza, King County Executive Dow Constantine, Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan, and Seattle Foundation President and CEO Tony Mestres created the first-ever Regional Census Fund to provide $1 million in funding to help community organizations prepare for the 2020 Census, which will be conducted one year from today: April 1, 2020.

The Regional Census Fund (RCF) is a $1 million pooled fund that will allocate money to Seattle and King County-based community organizations to help fund outreach and other activities for the United States 2020 Census. Seattle Foundation established the RCF with $500,000, and King County and the City of Seattle each contributed $250,000. This is the first-ever partnership between King County, the City of Seattle, and Seattle Foundation to fund Census outreach.

The Census is supposed to count everyone in an area, regardless of immigration status. The federal government is attempting to add a “citizenship question” to the Census, which has not been included on the Census form for almost 70 years. The last-minute addition of this question appears to be the federal government’s attempt to politicize the Census and deter people from participating, which jeopardizes a complete 2020 Census count and could potentially harm immigrant-dense communities. This is one of the primary reasons why Seattle Foundation, King County, and the City of Seattle are partnering with community members to act urgently to ensure a complete, safe, and fair Census count.

“The Trump administration is relying on fear and intimidation to discourage people from participating in the Census, which will shape the future of our region, state, and country,” said Executive Constantine. “We will provide trusted community partners with the support and resources they need to help ensure a complete, accurate count of all people who call King County home.”

“Seattle’s community-based organizations are trusted by the communities they serve, and the Regional Census Fund will help them do the important work of reaching out to community, building trust, and preparing for the 2020 Census,” said Mayor Durkan. “Our country is still grappling with its history of exclusion and systemic racism in which people have deliberately not been counted, or been counted as less than a whole person, to dehumanize them and take away their resources. Despite what this president thinks, in Seattle we know that everyone counts, and everyone deserves to be counted. We will stand up for all of Seattle.”

“Protecting democratic institutions and values is a critical way Seattle Foundation carries out our mission and it was the driver in our creation of the Regional Census Fund,” said Tony Mestres, President and CEO of Seattle Foundation. “In our minds, participation in the Census is as fundamental as the right to vote, and this partnership is an investment in ensuring the Census remains a strong pillar of full and fair representation of all in our democracy.”

“As former President Barack Obama’s Commerce Secretary, I was tasked with overseeing the 2010 Census. Achieving a complete, safe, and fair Census count requires a level of care and dedication that we’re just not seeing from President Trump and his top appointees,” said former Washington State Governor Gary Locke. “It’s going to take important local partnerships, like the Regional Census Fund, to ensure our communities are counted safely and accurately.”

“We must come together as a community to make sure that we are well equipped to build trust in our state with all residents to ensure we have a robust account of everyone in our region, especially those hard to count communities who often get left behind. Community organizations are best equipped to talk with members within their communities in culturally competent language, and this will be how we lead by following the leadership of our trusted community partners. I’m excited to work immigrant rights groups, unions and worker organizations, small businesses and with the Mayor, County, and philanthropic organizations who are ready to do the work of combating bigotry and fear to ensure every one of our residents is counted,” said Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda (Position 8, Citywide).

“We are pleased to know that our City, County and local philanthropy are committed to an informed and accurate 2020 Census, because if our communities are not fully counted in the 2020 Census, we will miss out on investments, resources and representation that we need and deserve. But we can only do this in a real partnership that recognizes and works together to overcome our community’s fears and barriers to participate in the Census. This fund is a good example of a good partnership,” said Estela Ortega, Executive Director of El Centro de la Raza.

The Regional Census Fund will help community-based organizations conduct outreach to historically undercounted populations, such as: communities of color; immigrants and refugees; young children; Native communities; LGBTQ people; renters; students; and people experiencing homelessness. This is the first time the United States decennial Census will be administered primarily online, leading to further challenges in counting under-resourced communities.

Applications for the Regional Census Fund will go live in the coming weeks. Funds will be available in summer 2019, and will be administered by Seattle Foundation.

Due to institutional neglect and other systemic issues, each of these populations has a historically low participation rate in the Census. Because the federal government uses Census results to allocate billions in federal funding, incomplete counts could result in these same populations receiving less federal funding for programs that our families and communities rely on, including Head Start, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicare, and Medicaid.

Funding isn’t the only issue at stake for Washington communities. Census results also determine federal representation for states; the 2010 Census resulted in an additional Congressional seat for Washington State.

Given the role of the 2020 Census in critical federal funding allocations, ensuring a complete, safe, and fair Census is a significant priority for local government and the philanthropic sector. Seattle Foundation is one of many foundations across the nation contributing financial resources, voice, and expertise to nonprofits and others working to ensure the Census is carried out properly.

Immigrants account for 22 percent of King County’s population, with 27 percent of King County residents speaking a language other than English at home. King County’s immigrant population grew 74 percent between 2000 and 2017. Additionally, King County has recently hit a new immigration milestone, as now more than half a million residents are foreign-born.