The New York State Census Equity Fund - The Long Island Community Foundation

The New York State Census Equity Fund

Ensuring a fair and accurate count

Established in 2018, the New York State Census Equity Fund was a joint effort of local, regional, national foundations, and individual donors to ensure that every resident in every county in New York state is counted in the 2020 Census. Generating a sufficient response from hard-to-count communities could mean the difference between New York State losing one congressional seat or two, not to mention billions of dollars in federal funds for vital community assets (i.e., schools, hospitals, etc.) and programs for vulnerable New Yorkers like Medicaid, Section 8, Low Income Housing Tax Credits, Head Start, Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, all of which are allocated based on census data.

The Fund coordinated the allocation of philanthropic resources to ensure coverage of the State’s hard-to-count communities and constituencies and shared Census-related information with the philanthropic sector. The Fund:

  • Supported complete census count efforts of community organizations in New York’s hardest-to-count neighborhoods, towns, and rural areas with large populations of low-income people, people of color, immigrants, children under five, older adults, people with disabilities, non-English speaking individuals, migrant workers, ex-offenders, the homeless, and other groups that are at risk of being undercounted.
  • Supported statewide efforts that promote Census equity, including media/communications, advocacy, and technology and other technical assistance that benefits groups throughout the State;
  • Coordinated philanthropic census-related activities with appropriate government entities, including the Census Bureau’s regional office, and state and local government officials; and
  • Facilitated learning opportunities so that funders around the State are informed about and up to date on the 2020 Census.

To find out more about the New York State Census Equity Fund, download the Fund’s description.


  • Anonymous donors
  • Brooklyn Community Foundation
  • Central New York Community Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Community Foundation of Elmira-Corning and the Finger Lakes
  • Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo
  • Community Foundation of Herkimer & Oneida Counties
  • Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley
  • Deutsche Bank
  • Ford Foundation
  • JP Morgan Chase
  • Korean American Community Foundation
  • Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund
  • Long Island Community Foundation
  • M+T Bank
  • Mertz-Gilmore Foundation
  • New York Foundation
  • Park Foundation
  • Ralph C. Wilson Foundation
  • Rauch Foundation
  • Robert Sterling Clark Foundation
  • Rochester Area Community Foundation
  • Rockefeller Brothers Fund
  • The Clark Foundation
  • The New York Women’s Foundation
  • The New York Community Trust
  • Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock
  • Westchester Community Foundation
  • Zegar Family Foundation

Steering Committee

The Fund was led by a Steering Committee made up of funders from across the State:

  • Jennifer Drake – Dyson Foundation
  • Lisa Fasolo-Frishman– Engage New York (ex officio)
  • Rebecca Furth – Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Randi Hewit –  Community Foundation of Elmira-Corning and the Finger Lakes
  • Sol Marie Alfonso Jones – Long Island Community Foundation
  • Robin Melen – Westchester Community Foundation
  • Maria Mottola – New York Foundation
  • Dimple Patel – New York Women’s Foundation
  • Katie Pieri – Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo
  • Robyn Smith – Central New York Community Foundation
  • Patricia Swann – The New York Community Trust (Chair)
  • Marcell Tillet – Brooklyn Community Foundation
  • Allie Urbanski – Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo


The four sub-committees described below facilitated the work of the Steering Committee. Any contributing funder was able to participate in one of the sub-committees. All contributing funders participated in the Grantees Selection Committee.

  1. Funders Engagement & Education Committee – Chaired by Jen Drake, Senior Program Officer, Dyson Foundation, the sub-committee organizes quarterly briefings for funders on relevant census-related topics to foster their engagement in increasing the 2020 count in New York State.
  2. Grantees Selection Committee – Chaired by Randi Hewit, President, Community Foundation for Elmira-Corning and Finger Lakes. All donors of the Fund can participate in the sub-committee. Sub-committee members review LOIs and/or proposals submitted for funding consideration and make funding recommendations to the Steering Committee.
  3. External Relations Committee – Chaired by Robyn Smith, Program Officer, Central New York Community Foundation. The sub-committee maintains relations with national and regional funders’ census initiatives to share information, best practices, and resources; and coordinates strategies with statewide census advocacy groups such as NY Counts 2020, the New York Civic Engagement Table, the Association for A Better New York, the Governor’s Office, and the Regional Census Bureau.
  4. Documentation & Evaluation Committee –Chaired by Sabrina Hargrave, Program Officer, Brooklyn Community Foundation, the sub-committee is responsible for developing and implementing an evaluation plan with appropriate indicators of success and mechanisms for data tracking and analysis. The sub-committee also will disseminate evaluation findings and lessons learned.


The Fund’s grantmaking focused on three main areas: community education and mobilization, advocacy at the state level, and technical assistance. Grant awards include:

  • A $30,000 grant to Engage New York awarded in November 2018–a network of foundations from across New York State that links policy advocacy, civic engagement, and community organizing to improve the quality of life for New Yorkers–to produce and distribute to funders a monthly online newsletter with updates on census activities throughout the State and a digest of relevant articles and online postings; liaison with relevant local government and Census Bureau officials;  and track census-related funding support in New York State from local, national and regional foundations, including grants from sources that are not directly contributing to the Census Equity Fund collaborative.
  • With a $35,000 grant awarded in November 2018, the Rockefeller Institute of Government–the research arm of the State University of New York–will analyze New York State’s challenges for 2020 census; and produce a written report with recommendations on census 0utreach and get-out-the-count strategies to guide the work of funders, government officials, and nonprofits.
  • A $55,000 grant awarded in January 2019 to the New York Civic Engagement Table, a statewide coalition of community-based grassroots organizations, will help amplify the network’s census education and outreach work in the Hudson Valley area with strategy sessions, capacity-building, communications and coordination.
  • With a $100,000 grant awarded in April 2019, the Asian American Federation will connect Asian-serving organizations in six metropolitan areas to census outreach technical assistance and resources, and will provide training to 75 leaders from Pan-Asian American communities across the state in census messaging and outreach strategies.
  • With a $70,000 grant awarded in April 2019, the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism @ CUNY will develop a database of local ethnic and community media outlets serving hard-to-count communities and constituencies in NY State and will help these outlets compete for census advertising dollars.
  • A $75,000 grant awarded in April 2019 will help the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island to provide training and other supports to complete count committees (CCC’s) on Long Island and to distribute “CCC-in-a-box” toolkit for distribution in hard-to-count regions throughout the State.
  • With a $75,000 grant awarded in April 2019, the Digital Equity Lab @ The New School will help public libraries in New York State provide internet access and support to marginal populations to improve census participation.
  • With a $58,000 grant awarded in April 2019, the Partnership for the Public Good will provide technical assistance to Complete Count Committees and relevant government officials in Erie and Niagara counties, and will deliver workshops and training on census outreach strategies for member organizations.
  • With a $100,000 grant awarded in April 2019, the New York Immigration Coalition will hire a census Fellow to support NYIC staff doing census outreach in Syracuse and Buffalo metropolitan areas.

The Trust was joined by other New York foundations in a letter to the governor asking the State to allocate more funds to the census efforts. Read the letter here and the update here.