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Rhode Island Census 2020 Fund Grants

Grant deadline: January 31, 2020

The Rhode Island Census 2020 Fund is a statewide, collaborative funding initiative to support a complete and accurate census count for Rhode Island.

RI Census 2020 Logo

Rhode Island organizations are invited to apply for grants to conduct outreach and education activities that will encourage participation in the 2020 Census. Those activities should focus specifically on increasing census response rates in communities that have been historically undercounted or are vulnerable to an undercount in 2020.

This program has two deadlines - November 25, 2019 and January 31, 2020. We will accept one application per organization, per funding round.

A fair and accurate census is one of the most important activities that the US government conducts. Complete census data is vital to ensure the basic political equality that is central to our democracy. The census is conducted once every 10 years.

The importance of the census is enshrined in our Constitution. The largest non-military mobilization of the federal government, this massive effort to “count everyone once, only once, and in the right place” is critical to our democracy for three primary reasons:

  1. Census data are used to reapportion seats in the House of Representatives and to draw legislative districts for state and local governments, ensuring fair political representation.
  2. Census data are used annually to allocate $3.8 billion for Rhode Island in federal programs and resources, and those numbers are set only once a decade.
  3. State leaders, businesses, and other decision-makers use census data to make critical investment and economic decisions, track civil rights disparities and enforcement priorities, and make informed decisions about the needs of residents.

An undercount could mean reduced funding and unequal representation for Rhode Islanders.

The Rhode Island Complete Count Committee (RICCC) was tasked with developing and recommending a census outreach strategy to encourage full participation in the 2020 federal census.

Some areas and population groups are designated by the US Census Bureau as hard to count (HTC) because they have low self-response rates, forcing the Census Bureau to send personnel to each non-responding household. This “non-response follow-up” can be difficult, time-consuming, and costly. HTC populations typically include people of color, children younger than age five, immigrants, urban and rural low-income households, limited-English speakers, single-parent headed households, renters, and young adults. Census tracts with 2010 mail return rates of 73% or less are officially designated as HTC. In addition, the RICCC has identified several other populations as vulnerable to an undercount, including lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender, or questioning (LBGTQ+) people; seniors; homebound people; people with disabilities; people of Portuguese descent; people experiencing homelessness; college students; and people in recovery.

The Rhode Island Census 2020 Fund supports awareness-building, outreach, and engagement activities so that every Rhode Islander will be aware of the Census, understand the importance of being counted, and will feel safe, invested, and easily able to participate in the 2020 count. Donors to the fund include local philanthropist Bhikhaji Maneckji, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island, Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island, the Nellie Mae Foundation, the Service Employees International Union 1199 New England, the Rhode Island Foundation, and United Way of Rhode Island. The Rhode Island Foundation administers the fund.

Rhode Island Census 2020 Outreach Grants support one-time or periodic activities to raise awareness about the census. Grants must focus on a specific demographic community or geographic area in Rhode Island at risk of undercounting. Please see the Rhode Island Complete Count Committee’s final plan for a full listing of HTC and vulnerable-to-an-undercount communities.

Grant awards will range between $1,000 and $25,000. Funds must be utilized by July 31, 2020.

Allowable activities include public engagement campaigns, neighborhood awareness, trainings, special events, resident organizing, designating space and technology as a census site, and integrating census-related activities into your organization’s programs and activities. We recognize that organizations require capacity to carry out these activities, so grants can be used for staff time.

Please consider the full range of funding available when applying. Grants at the higher end of the range will be reserved for the strongest proposals reaching the highest-priority populations. We reserve the right to partially fund proposals based on funding availability and outreach coverage across the state.

Please note: This funding opportunity is not intended for message development. The Rhode Island Complete Count Committee is preparing messaging materials that will be made available to all Rhode Island community organizations at no cost by early 2020. Grantees will be expected to utilize these materials, although they may be supplemented by organization and community-specific messages.

Rhode Island-based nonprofit organizations, municipal governments, public agencies like libraries or schools, houses of worship, and community-based groups are eligible to apply.

Grants must be awarded to a nonprofit with a 501(c)(3) designation. If your organization is not a 501(c)(3), you can apply through a fiscal sponsor. If funded, the fiscal sponsor and applicant organization will both be responsible for the terms and conditions of the grant award. For more information and recommended best practices regarding fiscal sponsorship relationships, you may wish to download this document.

The Rhode Island Foundation believes that Rhode Islanders can best be helped by organizations that both reflect and serve our diverse community. The Foundation does not fund any applicant or program with a discriminatory policy that is unlawful or inconsistent with either our mission or values.

Applications will be reviewed by community members and evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Applicants must demonstrate:
    - Established connections and trusted relationships with the targeted communities and populations.
    - An implementable plan with specific, meaningful outreach activities.
    - A commitment to reaching specific hard-to-count or vulnerable-to-an-undercount communities.
  • Priority will be given to organizations and proposals that demonstrate:
    - A track record working on activities that increase civic engagement and participation.
    - An understanding of how you’ll build on other census-related efforts.

The 2019 application deadline for this program was Monday, November 25, 2019.

The 2020 application deadline for this program is Friday, January 31, 2020. An information session for potential applicants for the January 31 funding round will be held on Tuesday, January 14, 2020 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Millrace Kitchen, 40 South Main Street, Woonsocket. Click here to register for the session; registration is required.

Applicants to the program who submit by Friday, January 31, 2020 will be notified of decisions by the end of February.

All funds must be expended by July 31, 2020.

Grantees must commit to:

  • Expending all funds by July 31, 2020.
  • Providing a final grant narrative and financial report by August 31, 2020.
  • Participating in person or by conference call in up to two meetings with other grantees to share information, resources, and strategies that strengthen the work of all.
  • Participating in interviews for an initiative evaluation that will capture accomplishments, lessons learned, and recommendations for the 2030 census.

Grantees will have the opportunity to assist/advise the Rhode Island Complete Count Committee on media outreach.

Complete this application form and submit it through our online system.

To complete an application that is already in progress, and to submit, please click here.