The United States Constitution requires that every 10 years we count the population or census. The census is important as it determines each state’s (and territory’s) proportional representation in Congress as well as shares of federal funds for a range of programs including health care, education, housing, economic development, social services, roads, and transportation. Historically, undercounting, however, has been a challenge, especially for under resourced and immigrant communities, and communities of color. This challenge of undercounting is expected to increase in 2020, due to (1) federal budget cuts for the administration of the census; (2) digitizing the census for the first time; and (3) the chilling effect on immigrant communities from the push to add a citizenship question to the census even though the effort was ultimately unsuccessful.

     To overcome such barriers, the importance of grassroots outreach and the engagement of trusted messengers to assist in the counting of every New Yorker accurately cannot be overstated. According to a recent Quinnipiac poll on New York census attitudes, the highest percentage of New Yorkers (46 percent) would be influenced to participate in the census if a local nonprofit organization in their community stressed its importance– higher than the influence of newspapers, TV, or politicians.


     Accordingly, Robin Hood anticipates making grants ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 available to organizations in New York City well-positioned to assist in achieving an accurate count in Census 2020. The purpose of these grants are to provide resources to trusted community groups and messengers so that they can get all New Yorkers counted—especially those communities with historically low participation rates and “hard-to-count” (HTC) populations such as young children, persons of color, immigrants, persons with unstable or nontraditional housing,  persons who identify as LGBTQ, persons with mental or physical disabilities and communities with low internet literacy or connectivity. HTC is the term commonly used for those areas or populations that historically have been less likely to complete the census, and in the end, have been undercounted on the census. Robin Hood will consider both the target population and the geographic focus in its evaluation of proposals.

     The Robin Hood 2020 Census Initiative is intended to provide grants to provide some support to engage local communities and to help larger organizations seize the opportunity to engage their constituents.  Funds are to be used to help educate communities leading up to the 2020 Census and for “get out the count” efforts once the 2020 Census has been released. Funds may be used for a variety of activities, including but not limited to, trainings, “door knocking”, mapping community assets, providing materials to support outreach activities, conducting targeted communications efforts, providing internet access and computer assistance, making tablets or other technology available, establishing community census sites and organizing events to promote participation in the census. This is not an exhaustive list and we are open to considering other activities that will generate awareness and increase response rates among the HTC population for Census 2020.

     We anticipate providing grants to 501(c)(3) organizations serving New York City and will prioritize proposals from:

  • Community-based organizations (including houses of worship, schools, medical centers, day cares etc.) with ahistory of involvement with HTC populations and a demonstrated ability to reach those communitiesbut with no or limited funding to engage in census work, including smaller organizations that are trusted within niche communities or larger groups that are well positioned to reach HTC populations at scale
  • Community-based organizations that are already engaging in census work but where a grant would enable the organization to deepen their impact or fill a funding gap.



Robin Hood is responsible for the careful stewardship of our donors’ dollars. Organizations receiving funding will provide one brief report to Robin Hood at the end of the funding period describing how the funds were used and ultimate impact achieved. Robin Hood may also check in periodically through e-mail or phone calls throughout the grant cycle. Robin Hood is committed to making reporting as streamlined as possible so that those receiving funding may dedicate their resources to the census work rather than grants management. We encourage applications from all organizations which will be able to make use of these dollars even if the organization has not applied or qualified for funding from Robin Hood previously or is a former community partner of Robin Hood’s.  However, these grants cannot be used to serve communities outside of New York City although materials developed can be shared, as applicable.



      Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until funding is exhausted and should be completed and returned as soon as possible. Robin Hood will contact every organization that we consider for funding and will decide shortly following that conversation. Keep in mind, not every proposal will receive funds; our decision will be based on demonstrated need and the ability of the administering organization to maintain necessary controls and oversight, as well as other factors. Grant amounts will vary, depending on proposed activities and the organization’s capacity. Robin Hood intends to distribute up to $500,000 in grants through this Request for Proposal and, depending on the level of interest received, we may consider future funding rounds. If you missed the deadline, please reach out to for more information.

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