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 $100.3 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.

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 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. Approximately $27 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 funding agreements to conduct Census outreach activities in their geographical service areas. Funding tiers are based on housing units ranging from $1,000 funding agreements 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.

The Census Office will allocate $42.95 million* to community-based organizations across the state for their on-the-ground outreach efforts. The funding 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 has designated $22.95 million for CBOs to reach out to HTC populations within each of these regions. The State will augment this amount with an additional $10 million from the proposed 2019 Governor’s Budget to bolster on-the-ground Non-Response Follow Up (NRFU) work within those communities where low response rates are materializing.

The State will also award funding to CBOs working statewide to target HTC populations demographically. The State designated $4,050,000 for various statewide CBOs that will be charged with targeting outreach efforts toward specific hard-to-count demographic populations on a statewide basis. The State plans to augment this amount with an additional $5,950,000 from the proposed 2019 Governor’s Budget to make additional awards targeting these HTC population groups.

The state Census Office released a request for proposal (RFP) on Dec. 14, 2018 for Administrative Community-Based Organizations (ACBO) providing regional services. The current deadline for ACBOs to submit their proposals is Feb. 15, 2019. A second RFP for Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) providing statewide services was released on Jan. 4, 2019. The current deadline for statewide CBOs to submit their proposals is Feb. 15, 2019. Notification of awards for both RFPs will be announced in March 2019.

Both RFPs are posted on the California eProcure website.

Media Funding

The Census Office is dedicating $47.5 million to its public and media relations campaign. This includes $30 million* as proposed in the 2019 Governor’s Budget. 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 released a series of letters and RFPs, calling on counties, Tribal Governments, and community-based organizations to apply for funding. In February 2019 the State will release the Media Services RFP. Some key dates:

County Contracts

  • Nov. 9, 2018 – State sends letters to counties to opt in or out of state Census funding
  • Feb. 8, 2019 – Deadline for counties to opt out or opt in with a board resolution

Tribal Funding Agreements

  • Nov. 30, 2018 – State distributes Tribal funding agreement letters
  • Feb. 1, 2019 – Deadline for Tribal Governments to request funding

Regional Administrative Community-Based Organizations

  • Dec. 14, 2018 – State releases Regional ACBO RFP
  • Feb. 15, 2019 – Deadline for ACBOs to submit their proposals for the Regional ACBO RFP
  • March 2019 – State issues notification of awards for regional ACBOs

Statewide Community-Based Organizations

  • Jan. 4, 2019 – State releases Statewide CBO RFP
  • Feb. 15, 2019 – Deadline for CBOs to submit their proposals for the Statewide CBO RFP
  • March 2019 – State issues notification of awards for statewide CBOs

Media Services

  • February 2019 – State releases Media Services RFP
  • March 2019 – Deadline for media to submit their proposals for the Media Services RFP
  • May 2019 – State issues notification of contract awards for the Media Services RFP

Additional State Census funding information: