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"Count Me 2020 Coalition" and SANDAG's San Diego Census Kick-off with leaders from the federal and state census, the County of San Diego and City of San Diego. (Photo courtesy: SANDAG)

California State Census Awards $3.2M to ‘Count Me 2020 Coalition’ and SANDAG

Funds to help Reach Hard to Count Communities in San Diego and Imperial Counties

San Diego CA—The California Complete Count – Census 2020 Office has awarded two major contracts, totaling $3.22 million, to coordinate Census 2020 outreach for “hard to count” populations in San Diego and Imperial Counties. A complete and accurate count is essential to ensure federal, state and county dollars are adequately distributed to our local communities, as well as to determine future congressional seats.

The two contracts were awarded to:

  • Count Me 2020, a coalition of over 100 community-based organizations and other partners, led by the United Way of San Diego County, has been awarded $1.66 million for Census 2020 outreach. The contract designates United Way of San Diego County as the Primary Administrative Community-Based Organization (ACBO) for San Diego and Imperial Counties (Region 10) with a mandate to count everyone in the hard to reach populations.
  • San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) will act as the fiscal agent for $1.56 million to support local governments in the San Diego region in promoting awareness about the census and motivating residents to complete and return their questionnaire, particularly among hard to count populations.

San Diego and Imperial Counties have some of the hardest to count regions in California, with an estimated 255,000 to 783,000 individuals considered extremely hard to count. SANDAG is coordinating and collaborating with Count Me 2020 to leverage funds for maximum impact and eliminate duplication of efforts.

The Count Me 2020 Coalition and its partners will use trusted community messengers across both counties to ensure that hard to count communities are accurately counted. This outreach by community-based organizations will also address specific language needs, crucial in a region with over 80 distinct languages.

“As a trusted local nonprofit for 99 years, United Way is excited and honored to be leading the Count Me 2020 Coalition in this crucial work, as our focus is always on aligning and leveraging local resources and partners,” said United Way of San Diego County President and CEO Nancy L. Sasaki. “Further, our family stability work requires that we have an accurate census count across all populations, as this impacts programs such as SNAP, Medicaid and other funding sources for families.”

The Coalition has been meeting regularly since July 2018 to develop inclusive community engagement processes, gain local buy-in, and share information regarding deadlines, structures and support networks available to groups interested in supporting the Census. This collaborative process will continue as additional community-based subcontractors and collaborators are determined in the coming months to support Census outreach.

The Regional Census Data Center is operated at SANDAG and involves supporting all census-related data needs of the region, training member agencies and the public in using census data, and coordinating with the State and the U.S. Census Bureau to ensure the region has the most complete data possible for planning and service delivery.

“Everyone matters in the census — wherever you live in the County, urban or rural, if you have access to the internet or not,” said SANDAG Chair and City of Poway Mayor Steve Vaus. “SANDAG is committed to making sure all are counted in Census 2020 across the San Diego region’s 18 cities and countywide.”

Alan Kaplan, director of Engage San Diego, a community network that works to build civic infrastructure, added: “The Count Me 2020 Coalition is the broadest group of partners in the region, committed to making sure that all of us can work together to reach the hardest to count populations.”

“It is our civic duty to uphold the Constitution to ensure every person is counted in Census 2020. Everyone can help to reduce or eliminate barriers to participation by helping our family and neighbors understand the importance of the census, how to participate and reminding them that in our democracy, every person counts and matters!” said Coalition partner Arcela Nuñez-Alvarez, research director of the National Latino Research Center at California State University San Marcos.

To learn more about the outreach and implementation of the Count Me 2020 Plan or to get involved, visit www.sandag.org.

About Count Me 2020 Coalition
Count Me 2020 is a coalition of over 100 community organizations and civic groups working to ensure a complete and accurate 2020 Census count in San Diego and Imperial Counties.
Outreach focuses on ensuring that the 255,000 to 783,000 individuals who are considered “hard to count” in San Diego and Imperial Counties are counted and represented.

The Coalition’s organizing approach is to nurture a culture of trust, engagement, buy-in and civic participation to reach, educate, motivate and activate individuals who are traditionally excluded and undercounted. Count Me 2020 coordinates closely with governments, businesses and other efforts, and welcomes all who care about our communities’ representation and proper funding distribution to join us! Learn more at www.countme2020.org or fb.me/countme2020.


The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) is the San Diego region’s primary public planning, transportation, and research agency, providing the public forum for regional policy decisions about growth, transportation planning and construction, environmental management, housing, open space, energy, public safety, and binational topics. SANDAG is governed by a Board of Directors composed of mayors, council members, and supervisors from each of the region’s 18 cities and the county government.