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Philanthropy Groups Line Up to Ensure Accurate OR Census Count

About 10% of Oregon's population lives in hard-to-count neighborhoods. (Wokandapix/Pixabay)
About 10% of Oregon's population lives in hard-to-count neighborhoods. (Wokandapix/Pixabay)
August 21, 2019

PORTLAND, Ore. – Philanthropic groups are partnering with the state of Oregon to ensure hard-to-count areas are included in the 2020 census.

The Census Equity Funders Committee of Oregon consists of nearly 40 groups, including the Meyer Memorial Foundation, Oregon Community Foundation and United Way of the Columbia-Willamette.

Kendall Clawson, executive director of Grantmakers of Oregon and Southwest Washington, says the 2020 count faces some unique challenges, such as delays in federal funding and the fact that it is the first-ever digital census.

Although it was blocked by legal challenges, Clawson also points to the ongoing debate over a citizenship question.

"Which has been politicizing the census and instilling fear in a lot of communities of color in particular,” says Clawson. “And almost a half million Oregonians live with a non-citizen person and 78% of those people living with a non-citizen person are people of color."

Clawson says funds will go to field outreach in hard-to-count areas, engagement with tribal leadership to ensure accurate counts of Native Americans and culturally specific training for other parts of Oregon.

She says the committee is the only pooled fund between public and private entities in the country.

Clawson notes that numbers from the 2020 census will play a crucial role for Oregon in the years to come.

"We're recognizing that it's the backbone to American democracy,” says Clawson. “It literally determines where federally funding allocation and electoral representation lands."

The committee's goal is $10 million, of which the state already has committed $7.5 million. According to the City University of New York's Center for Urban Research, about 10% of Oregon's population lives in hard-to-count neighborhoods.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR