Joined by community members at Seattle’s El Centro 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 (RCF) to provide $1 million in funding to help community organizations prepare for the 2020 Census, which will be conducted next year in 2020.
The 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 U.S. 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.
“Seattle’s community-based organizations are trusted by the communities they serve, and the RCF will help them do the important work of reaching out to community, building trust, and preparing for the 2020 Census,” said 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.”
“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 RCF, to ensure our communities are counted safely and accurately.”
The RCF 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.
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.