Date of Graduation

Spring 5-17-2019

Document Access

Project/Capstone - Global access

Degree Name

Master of Nonprofit Administration (MNA)


School of Management

First Advisor

Dr. Marco Tavanti


The decennial census is the cornerstone of the United States democracy. Its purpose is to determine representation in Congress and the Electoral College as well as provide the basis for drawing districts for federal, state, and local offices. California’s voice in public policy decision-making would diminish if votes were lost in a census undercount. Additionally, federal funding is allocated based on each state’s population as determined by the census. If California’s residents are not accurately counted, the state stands to lose almost $2,000 per person per year for the next 10 years. Currently, trust in the federal government is low and significant changes to the census process are predicted to reduce participation in historically undercounted populations. The equity gap in California is growing and a fair and accurate count provides the data to inform more inclusive decision-making at all levels. Marginalized populations are growing and a lack of data makes it more difficult for the public, private and social sectors to direct resources to support those who need it most. Intervention from trusted messengers has motivated hard-to-count communities to participate in past census counts. The current anti-immigrant political climate and concerns around recent data hacking scandals threaten to decrease and already declining census response rate. Community based organizations (CBOs) have earned the trust of residents from historically hard-to-count communities. This report will review research on past census outreach efforts as well as current studies on messaging for hard-to-count communities that are considered at risk in the upcoming decennial census. CBOs’ proven outreach methods must be enhanced to face the challenges of the 2020 Census.