Philadelphia has begun its own effort to raise money for 2020 Census preparations after Pennsylvania lawmakers rejected a request for census funding in this year’s budget.
Pennsylvania’s census commission, appointed by Gov. Tom Wolf, had asked for nearly $13 million — $1 per resident — to pay for community groups’ efforts to persuade as many Pennsylvanians as possible to participate in the 2020 Census.
The population count will determine communities’ political power and the distribution of hundreds of billions of dollars to local and state governments for the next decade. But the legislature rejected the budget request the commission made in May.
Now Philadelphia has set a $1 million fund-raising goal to cover what it hoped to receive from the state. The city is using the $1-per-resident guideline that many other states and cities are using for census preparation funding. Philadelphia will combine what it hopes to receive through donations from businesses and charities with $600,000 or so it has already dedicated to census outreach — a total of roughly $1.6 million.
The city’s census committee formed a subcommittee last week to focus on raising money and securing business partnerships, said Stephanie Reid, executive director of Philly Counts 2020, the city’s effort to make sure all residents are included in the census, which is part of the census committee. Nonprofits can begin applying for grants — between $2,500 and $10,000 on average — when applications post online in the next week or so.
Philanthropy Network Greater Philadelphia will evaluate applications and distribute money to nonprofits that are planning census outreach.
“We want to be sure, as soon as money is coming in, it goes right back out to community organizations,” Reid said. “Our processes are not nimble. They’re very slow — sometimes for a very good reason.”
In a typical grant structure, money takes five or six months to get into the hands of awardees — too slow for census efforts, said Sidney Hargro, president of Philanthropy Network.
His organization will accept applications through its website and the city’s website on a rolling basis and announce awards every 60 days — meaning roughly five grant cycles between now and mid-May. The nationwide count begins in March.
Philanthropy Network saw the collaboration with the city “as an opportunity to fill a need to really lead on this particular issue, which is critical to our region,” said Hargro, who also is a member of the state’s census commission. “It doesn’t matter what area of grant-making is your priority. The 2020 Census will impact it.”