The 2020 Census

A Fair and Accurate Count

The Minneapolis Foundation announces a call for proposals from nonprofit organizations seeking grants for efforts to help Minnesota achieve a fair and accurate count during the 2020 Census.

Why does the Census matter?

The United States Constitution mandates a count every ten years of every person residing in all fifty states, Puerto Rico, and the Island Areas. Every person counts, regardless of age, race, ethnicity, or citizenship status.

The Census is an equalizer and thus one of the most important democratic activities of our society. The headcount is used to determine how federal funds are disbursed to states, local governments, and families. It also determines political representation at the national, state, and local levels. While an accurate count is the responsibility of the government, historically the Census has missed disproportionate numbers of young children, immigrants, racial groups and ethnicities, and low-income people. Inaccurate counts lead to inequalities in political power and public and private investments that negatively impact our entire state, especially families from undercounted populations.

The 2020 Census presents unprecedented challenges to achieving an accurate count. These include insufficient funding appropriated by Congress, which resulted in canceled testing and scaled-back preparations; a leadership void at the Census Bureau during the critical planning years of 2017 and 2018; the digital divide, which is more problematic than ever as the first high-tech online census is being rolled out; and an increase in community reluctance and fear of sharing information with the government.

The Census in Minnesota

As the 2020 Census approaches, what’s on the line for Minnesotans? In a study to analyze the financial impact of Census data on states, the George Washington Institute of Public Policy determined that in 2016 alone, Minnesota received more than $15 billion through 55 federal spending programs guided by data derived from the 2010 Census. Medicaid and federal student loans were the largest categories.

It’s also important to note that, while high participation by Minnesotans in the 2010 Census resulted in our state retaining all of its congressional representation, population shifts coupled with a low response rate in a 2020 Census threaten to cost Minnesota a congressional district. An accurate count is essential to maintain our political representation as well as increase fair government funding of assistance to families.

The Minneapolis Foundation is a proud partner of the Minnesota Census Mobilization Partnership, which was formed in 2016 to prepare for the 2020 Census. The state is poised for success because of key leadership from the Minnesota Council on Foundations, Minnesotans for the American Community Survey, and the Minnesota State Demographer’s Office. The Partnership’s success is also due to the ongoing input and participation of many diverse, cross-sector voices. We are proud to join in the statewide effort to make sure every person is counted!

Application Process

Applications will be accepted starting on Monday, June 24, 2019. All applications must be submitted online by noon on Friday, August 2, 2019. Our system will not accept submissions after 12 p.m. (noon) even if an application is in process.

All applicants will be notified of our decisions by September 15. Grants will likely range from $15,000 to $20,000 for twelve months. A final report about the activities supported by the grant will be due on October 30, 2020.


Any organization may apply if it is tax-exempt or operates under fiscal sponsorship. Current and past grantees may apply as long as the organization is up-to-date with any reporting requirements due to The Minneapolis Foundation. The work being funded must primarily target the Twin Cities metro area.

What we will fund

We will prioritize funding proposals that promote Census participation of Minnesota residents from populations that have been historically undercounted.

Fundable activities include:

  • Targeted community organizing and outreach.
  • Technical assistance and training to organizations working to increase Census participation.
  • Providing coordination, tools, and materials to groups that are conducting community organizing and outreach about the Census.

We will give special consideration to proposals that work in concert with the framework and recommendations put forth by the Census 2020 Communication and Mobilization Plan that was produced by Grassroots Solutions for the Minnesota Census Mobilization Partnership.

Questions and Application Preview

For technical questions about the application process, contact Nancy Cerkvenik at or 612-672-8665. For questions about your project proposal, contact Catherine Gray at or 612-672-3876.

We recommend downloading a preview of the application questions to prepare for the online application.