Media release

Community groups win grants to boost Census response

"Outreach to these historically under-counted groups, through the local organizations they are connected to, helps motivate them to participate in the Census along with their friends and family."

With the U.S. Census Bureau set to begin reaching out to Rhode Island households this month, the Rhode Island Census 2020 Fund is announcing nearly $300,000 in a second round of grants to encourage people to fill out the forms. The goal is to protect the roughly $3.8 billion a year that Rhode Island receives in federal funding for education, health care, housing and other uses based on Census data.

“These grants are essential for the 2020 Census outreach campaign and assist in connecting with communities that are ‘hard to count.’ Outreach to these historically under-counted groups, through the local organizations they are connected to, helps motivate them to participate in the Census along with their friends and family," said Central Falls Mayor James Diossa, who co-chairs the state’s Complete Count Committee.

The focus of the grants is increasing Census response-rates from historically under-counted populations such as families with young children, immigrants, people living in poverty and people of color. The Rhode Island Foundation administers the grant program in partnership with the Complete Count Committee.

“Participating in the Census is a powerful way to bring resources to your community and ensure that everyone is represented. Every household that completes the questionnaire will generate more federal funding for schools, medical care, affordable housing and a host of other services that people depend on,” said Neil D. Steinberg, the Foundation’s president and CEO. “We need every single Rhode Islander to be part of our civic process.”

The grants come as the Census begins mailing every household in Rhode Island a notice in the mail asking them to provide information about everyone who lives there. The questionnaire can be completed online, by phone or by mail.

Alianza de Transformacion Social in Providence, Capeverdean American Community Development in Pawtucket and the Jonnycake Center of Peace Dale are among the more than three dozen organizations that received grants.

A network of approximately 40 churches that serve the Latino community, Alianza de Transformacion Social received $12,000 to send outreach workers to houses of worship in Central Falls, Pawtucket, Providence and Woonsocket among other communities.

"Our founding principles are rooted in the belief that every leader should be empowered in every social sphere, so that we may better serve our communities. As a faith-based organization engaging communities that historically have been impacted by the lack of opportunities, we prioritize serving first-generation immigrant Latino families, communities of color and religious minorities,” said the Rev. Silvia Orellana, president of the organization.

Capeverdean American Community Developmentin Pawtucket received $10,000 to do outreach at coffee hours, musical performances, open houses and church events. The organization plans to translate information into Portuguese and Kriolu.

“We will share information about the 2020 Census, explain the benefits of participating, and provide technical tips through info booths, give personal testimonies, host performances of Census-themed rap songs in Kriolu and distribute Census-themed t-shirts and pens printed in Kriolu. We will utilize our connections to local Cape Verdean businesses, restaurants, churches and organizations to recruit participants and ensure robust participation,” said Elmer Pina, president of the organization.

The Jonnycake Center of Peace Dale received $15,000 for outreach to indigenous peoples in partnership with the Tomaquag Museum in Exeter. The strategies will include door-to-door canvassing, education and attendance at Native American gatherings and events.

“The Census is increasingly important when it comes to resources and representation for the Native community,” said Lorén Spears, executive director of the Tomaquag Museum. “The heavy reliance on technology and the internet to complete the Census presents additional challenges, which is why outreach and education is so important.”

The Jonnycake Center has hired Sandra Pates, a South Kingstown resident and local Native American leader, to collaborate with museum staff to develop material and messaging to encourage indigenous peoples to complete the Census questionnaire.

“To allow visitors and shoppers an opportunity to complete the Census on the spot, there will be computers for the public to use at our food pantry and busy thrift store as well as at the museum,” said Kate Brewster, executive director of the Jonnycake Center. “The stakes couldn’t be higher for our state and its people, especially our Native community.”

Amos House, the Arc Rhode Island Family Advocacy Network, the Cape Verdean Heritage Subcommittee, the Central Falls School Department, the city of Pawtucket, the city of Woonsocket, College Unbound, the Community Provider Network of Rhode Island, Connecting for Children and Families, the Cranston Public Library Association, DARE, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, the East Bay Community Action Program, Educational Resources of Antigua Guatemala, Hope and Change for Haiti, Latino Public Radio, New Bridges for Haitian Success, Oasis International, Open Doors and Planned Parenthood of Southern New England are among the other grant recipients.

In addition, the Providence Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, the Providence Children's Museum, the Providence Community Library, the Providence School Department, the Providence Youth Student Movement, Rhode Island Communities for Addiction Recovery Efforts, the R.I. Coalition for the Homeless, the R.I. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the R.I. Institute for Labor Studies and Research, TAPA: Trinity Academy for the Performing Arts, Teatro ECAS, the West End Community Center, Westbay Community Action and YWCA Rhode Island also received grants.

With this second round of grants, the Rhode Island Census 2020 Fund has awarded nearly $600,000 in funding to encourage members of traditionally under-counted populations to participate in the 2020 Census.

Recipients of the first round of grants include the Alliance of Rhode Island Southeast Asians for Education, Amos House, the Center for Southeast Asians, Children's Friend and Service, the city of Newport, Clinica Esperanza/Hope Clinic, the East Providence Public Library, the Elisha Project, Fuerza Laboral, Generation Citizen, Genesis Center, House of Manna Ministries, Meals on Wheels of Rhode Island, the Museum of Work & Culture, NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley and ONE Neighborhood Builders.

In addition, Progreso Latino, the Providence Community Opportunity Corp., Ready to Learn Providence, the Refugee Development Center, Rhode Island Professional Latino Association, the R.I. Coalition for the Homeless, The College Crusade of Rhode Island, Thundermist Health Center, Turning Around Ministries and the West Elmwood Housing Development Corp. also received grants in the first round.

More than 130 proposals totaling $2.3 million were submitted in all. The applications were reviewed by a committee of community members.

Donors to the Rhode Island Census 2020 Fund include the van Beuren Charitable Foundation, 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.

For more information about the Census in Rhode Island, visit