The Census 2010 project, carried out on behalf of The California Endowment, is an initiative to ensure that proper implementation measures are followed in conducting population counts so that states receive the accurate federal funding based on their demographics. The Census also poses a basic challenge: that of counting everyone. Studies have shown that historically the Census leaves out higher percentages of low-income, people of color, homeless, less-educated, and immigrant populations. In addition, the Census Project estimates that 10,393,982 people in California live in hard-to-count areas, making it the state with the largest numbers of this population in the country. Now, especially given the budget crisis in California, it is more urgent than ever to ensure that all of our communities are included and that they are allocated the funds they deserve.
The California Endowment has invested $4 million towards organizing hard-to-count constituencies around the 2010 Census through their Funding Census Strategy. This strategy contributes to a funding partnership being led by Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees that has brought together many funders in the state to work together on trying to reach hard-to-count populations.
The Funding Census Strategy has immediate consequences in that it will, one hopes, make sure that people get counted, but it may also have longer-term consequences related to building multi-issue alliances for changing California. Organizing populations to make sure they are counted can also lead to mobilization around other issues of common concern, particularly as the organizations involved recognize their mutual needs, interests and compatibilities. In essence, this project is assessing the infrastructure that has the potential to build capacities for a social movement.
By assessing the movement-building aspect of the Funding Census Strategy, the project will delve into the connections made across groups organizing around the Census work. As an outcome of community organizing around the Census counts, long-term alliances have the potential to transform to more than particularistic interests or episodic coalitions around issues. Such an alliance can beget a sustained grouping that develops a frame or a narrative based on shared values, that maintain a link with a real and broad base in the community, and that builds for a long-term transformation in systems of power.
Utilizing the framework developed in our TCE report, Making Change: How Social Movements Work and How to Support Them, we assessed the movement-building aspect of the Funding Census Strategy. We specifically suggested there that there are ten key elements for social movement builders and six capacities to allow groups and networks to put movements in place; we will use this framework in our research. This is an excellent case study for several reasons, one of which is that several of the groups participating have not worked together in the past; therefore, this will also give us a chance to see if this intentional grantmaking helped to create an infrastructure to do continued work together, both for the grantees and the funders.
The California Endowment News Release, August 27, 2009