For immediate release
Massachusetts Census Equity Fund Answering Call to Prevent Census Undercount in Underserved Communities
February 12, 2010
Contact: Kelly Bates (617) 494-0715, x 201 Toll Free: (888) 920-1969
Cambridge, MA: February 12, 2010: Communities of color and low-income, people with disabilities, homeless, and immigrant communities are important productive members of society who have been traditionally underrepresented in census-taking activities–and Access Strategies Fund is taking the lead in ensuring an increase in the mail response rate in these and other hard to count communities by at least five-percent over the last census.
The government will use the census to determine how to divide $400 billion in annual federal spending. Each person counted in the census represents $2,000 yearly in federal money that goes to the state for hospitals, schools, job training, public works, and emergency services … services desperately needed in minority, low-income, and immigrant communities that have been hit particularly hard in the recent economic downturn. Census data is also used to determine the apportioning of seats in the US House of Representatives.
But underserved populations are traditionally undercounted in census efforts, often not filling out forms because of language barriers, problems with access, and fear of how the information will be used.
Enter Access Strategies Fund’s Massachusetts Census Equity Fund, a two-year project funded by eleven philanthropic foundations and providing grants and resources to 30 nonprofit agencies working to ensure an accurate count of underserved communities in Massachusetts in the 2010 census and helping residents participate in civic life.
The need for a full count of Massachusetts residents is critical, says Kelly Bates, executive director of Access Strategies Fund. “People are struggling in a tough economic environment. We can’t afford to pass up money and representation that could benefit our families and communities over the next ten years.”
Nonprofits will use the grants and resources to reach out and educate local communities about the importance of completing the census forms—and the lack of retaliation in doing so. “We want people to know it’s safe,” says Access Strategies Fund’s Bates. “Information taken from the census is confidential and cannot be shared with any person or institution, including immigration and other government agencies.”
The Massachusetts Census Equity Fund is the first-ever statewide collaboration of nonprofits and private foundations coming together to reach out to the underserved communities and bring them information, education, and hope.
And you can be part of that hope! Funding partners do not have to be institutions: every donation helps, and donating is easy: just visit the organization’s website at http://www.accessstrategies.org/programs/massachusetts-census-equity-fund and pledge your support today!
Thirty recipient groups are already working to bring us a step closer to that hope. Recipients include Mass Vote, MA Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, Lawrence Community Works, ONE Lowell, Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, Project RIGHT, Chinese Progressive Association, Disability Policy Consortium, and others throughout Massachusetts.
Every community deserves to be served equitably and fairly. Access Strategies Fund’s Massachusetts Census Equity Fund is helping. Won’t you? Call 617-494-0715 or visit http://www.accessstrategies.org/programs/massachusetts-census-equity-fund to learn more today.
ABOUT ACCESS STRATEGIES FUND: Since 1999 Access Strategies Fund has provided more than $2 million in grants to 501(c)(3) organizations in Massachusetts. This funding has leveraged another $2 million in resources to communities throughout the state. Access Strategies Fund supports non-partisan strategies to build civic power in underserved communities in Massachusetts. We support strategies to achieve electoral policy reforms that expand the democratic process, civic leadership training, voter engagement, immigrant civic participation, and civic culture change. Our partnerships with MassVOTE, Oíste, Chinese Progressive Association, and many others led to progress on electoral policy reforms such as same-day election registration, public funding of elections, bilingual ballots, and fair representation in the redrawing of district lines to preserve equity in elections.
Funders of the Massachusetts Census Equity Fund
Access Strategies Fund
Burgess Urban Fund
The Herman and Frieda L. Miller Foundation
Theodore Edson Parker Foundation
Roxbury Trust Fund
Grant Recipients & Nonprofit Partners
Brazilian Women’s Group
Center for New Americans, Inc.
Chinese Progressive Association
Citizens for Citizens
Community Economic Development Center of Southeastern MA & the Immigration Assistance Center (IAC)
Disability Policy Consortium
Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative
Greater Boston Nazarene Compassionate Center
La Alianza Hispana
Lawrence Community Works
Madison Park Development Corporation
MA Alliance of Portuguese Speakers
MA Immigrant & Refugee Advocacy Coalition with Agencia ALPHA & Cleghorn Neighborhood Center
The Metropolitan Area Planning Council with Asian CDC & South Cove Community Health Center
NAACP Boston Branch
National Black College Alliance
Neighbor to Neighbor Massachusetts Education Fund
Neighbors United for a Better East Boston
The North End Campus Coalition/New North Citizens’ Council
Oiste – The Massachusetts Civic Education Initiative
ONE Lowell with Coalition for a Better Acre
Pioneer Valley Regional Ventures Center
Southeast Asian Coalition of Central MA
Worcester Youth Center