Funding Methodology

State leaders have made a significant commitment to California Complete Count – Census 2020 outreach and communication efforts in support of the U.S. Census by investing $90.3 million toward strategies and activities that will help ensure an accurate and successful count in California.

Census 2020 has developed an aggressive statewide community-engagement campaign to reach the least likely to respond areas and hard-to-count (HTC) communities throughout California. It supplements the U.S. Census Bureau’s efforts and, by requiring collaboration and coordination, avoids duplication of work.

More than two-thirds of the State’s funding is allocated for outreach in communities, including sizeable distributions to counties, Tribal Governments and community-based organizations, and for associated programmatic costs. Media funding – approximately 20 percent of the State’s funding – will supplement this outreach by using local ethnic media to target specific communities and to cover gaps identified in the federal media campaign within California.

Census 2020’s funding strategy minimizes the State’s administrative costs and holds funding recipients to the same standard. Through deliverable-based contracts, the State will guarantee strong oversight of its funding recipients.

County, Tribal and Local Government Funding

To maximize dollars distributed to local communities and require collaboration and coordination between governmental entities, the State will use counties as fiscal agents for funds targeting HTC populations within their boundaries, including those within incorporated cities. One-third, or approximately $30 million, will be allocated for local governments.

Allocations for most counties are based on the California Hard-to-Count (CA-HTC) Index created by the California Department of Finance, Demographic Research Unit and modeled on the U.S. Census Bureau’s Hard-to Count Score of past censuses. The CA-HTC Index is based on multiple demographic, housing and socioeconomic variables correlated with an area being difficult to enumerate. Those 14 variables include percentage of houses with wireline broadband subscriptions, percentage of renter-occupied households, percent of population that is foreign born and percent of limited-English households. Census tracts with higher CA-HTC indexes are likely to be places that will pose significant challenges to enumerate in 2020, while tracts with lower indexes should be easier to count.

For some counties, State funding allocations reflect population-based minimums, ensuring that all corners of the state – even those with low CA-HTC indexes – have an opportunity to conduct State-funded outreach within their geographical boundaries. Those minimums will range from $25,000 for counties with fewer than 25,000 residents to $100,000 for counties with more than 100,000 residents and have a low CA-HTC Index.

Should a county choose not to participate, the State will reach out to a large city, regional council of government or ultimately a community-based organization with the administrative capacity and experience to conduct robust outreach in that county. Counties that do participated are mandated to collaborate and coordinate with cities within their boundaries.

Tribal Governments will be awarded grants to conduct Census outreach activities in their geographical service areas. Funding tiers are based on housing units ranging from $1,000 grants for Tribal Governments with 25 to 49 housing units to $50,000 for those with more than 10,000 housing units.

Community-Based Organization Funding

The State grouped California’s 58 counties into 10 regions based on their HTC populations, geographic similarities, like-mindedness of the counties, capacity of community-based organizations within the counties, and state Census staff workload capabilities.

One-third of the State’s funding, or approximately $30 million, will be allocated primarily for administrative community-based organizations (ACBOs), which are large community-based organizations with the administrative capacity and experience to conduct robust outreach throughout an entire region.

This funding will be distributed both regionally and statewide. The state has designated a funding amount for the 10 regions based on their HTC populations. The State will also award funding to ACBOs working statewide to target specific HTC populations such as farmworkers, the homeless, senior citizens, veterans and rural residents.

Media Funding

Twenty percent of the State’s funding, approximately $17.5 million, has been dedicated to media. The State’s emphasis will be on local ethnic media that will focus resources in HTC communities to build a base of trusted messengers, break down language access barriers for non-English speakers, and facilitate culturally appropriate engagement within communities. The State will also coordinate its media outreach and education with the U.S. Census Bureau, funding a broader media campaign that covers gaps identified in federal campaign efforts in California.


More than 20 media entities and more than 80 community-based organizations responded to the State’s requests for information, providing innovative ideas for outreach that informed Census 2020’s requests for proposals (RFPs). Beginning Nov. 9, the State will release a series of letters and RFPs, calling on counties, Tribal Governments, ACBOs and media entities to apply for funding. Some key dates:

  • 11/9/18 – State sends letters to counties to opt in or out of state Census funding
  • 2/9/19 – Deadline for counties to opt out or opt in with a board resolution
  • 11/30/18 – State distributes Tribal grants funding letters
  • 2/1/19 – Deadline for Tribal Governments to request funding
  • 12/14/18 – State releases both regional and statewide ACBO RFPs
  • 1/31/19 – Deadline for ACBOs to respond to the RFPs
  • 3/15/19 – State issues notification of awards for ACBOs
  • 1/19 – State releases Media RFP
  • 3/19 – Deadline for media to respond to RFP
  • 5/19 – State issues notification of awards for media

Additional State Census funding information: