Greater Cleveland coalition announces 15 recipients in third round of 2020 census outreach microgrants

More than $200,000 awarded to date to reach hard-to-count populations

Release Date: 8.18.2020

CLEVELAND – The Char and Chuck Fowler Family Foundation, Cleveland Foundation, The George Gund Foundation, Saint Luke’s Foundation and two members of the Ohio Census Advocacy Coalition (OCAC) – Cleveland VOTES and the Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio – have awarded $50,000 in the third round of census microgrants aimed at increasing participation in the 2020 census among hard-to-count (HTC) populations. In the first two rounds, 50 Northeast Ohio organizations shared $153,000 in grantmaking.

Accredited 501(c)3 organizations that are working to get an accurate census count in Cuyahoga, Lake and Geauga counties were eligible to apply for the microgrants, which ranged from $1,000 to $5,000. The complete list of the 15 awardees follows at the end of the release.

“The decision by the federal government to move up the census deadline has disrupted months of work and planning by community partners,” said Simeon Best, Cuyahoga Counts program administrator. “The additional resources made available by the third round of grants will be a huge boost to local efforts.”

Examples of the third round of outreach efforts include:

  • The Rose Centers for Aging Well will incorporate detailed census discussions during weekly wellness check-in calls with more than 1,000 older adults living in HTC communities. The staff will offer to help them navigate how to fill the census out by telephone, mail or online. Through its Home Delivery Meals service, 1,025 older adults living in areas with a low self-response rate will receive flyers informing them about the census, clarifying misinformation and giving them another reminder to fill it out.
  • Smart Development Inc. is partnering with more than two dozen businesses to reach diverse groups, including immigrant-owned grocery stores on the east and west sides of Cleveland that sell ethnic foods and products. Staff and volunteers will canvas at grocery stores, table at public spaces/parking lots and make iPads available for individuals to take the census before, after or during their shopping trip. Volunteers will also make phone calls with the materials provided by the Arab American Institute. They also are working with two mosques (Islamic Center of Cleveland and MACE Islamic Center) on a census challenge and encouraging their neighbors to get out the count.
  • Birthing Beautiful Communities (BBC) and First Year Cleveland will coordinate efforts to engage pregnant and postpartum women receiving services through programs funded by the Ohio Department of Medicaid. The clients will receive census information letters. BBC clients will also receive assistance completing the census from their perinatal support specialists. BBC is one of the partners of the Task Force to Declare Racism a Public Health Crisis, and through this partnership, the task force will set up community stations in neighborhoods two times each week until the end of September. Volunteers and team members will be onsite with laptops to assist with census completion. The task force will mail out census pledge cards to clients receiving services from each member group. These pledge cards will walk residents through the three ways to complete the census.
  • Metro West Community Development Organization will continue to conduct caravans and deliver literature door to door in census tracts with low response rates in its service area. Theses caravans will consist of a series of cars driving down neighborhood streets with an audio message. They also will place signs strategically in yards and at corners that have QR codes where people can scan a code with their phone and fill out the census directly. The organization will promote through social media and do an online video demonstration of how to fill out the census form.

The microgrants were made possible thanks to a $300,000 grant from the New Venture Fund (at the recommendation of a national census funder collaborative) to support grassroots efforts to get an accurate and complete count in Ohio for the 2020 census, with a particular focus on HTC populations and communities. HTC populations include five primary groups: 1) immigrants/newcomers; 2) African Americans; 3) Latinx; 4) children under five and their families; and 5) students, renters and people who are transient. Ohio is one of 24 states to receive no state-level funding for efforts around the 2020 census.

“The impact of the census will be felt by our community for the next decade and beyond. With less than 50 days left to get a complete count, we are running out of time,” said Bridget De Leon, Char and Chuck Fowler Family Foundation director of grantmaking. “The best people to deliver the message on the importance of the census are the trusted voices on the ground. They know what’s at stake and will get us closer to a complete count.”

A final round of microgrants will be awarded in late August or early September. Contact Juan Galeano (, Cleveland Foundation project consultant for the 2020 census, to learn more about this grant opportunity and how to apply for funding.

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Census Microgrant Recipients

Organization                                                                                                                   Grant

Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging – Rose Centers for Aging Well                                          $5,000

Birthing Beautiful Communities – for Task Force to Declare Racism a Public Health Crisis       $5,000

Delta Alpha Lambda Foundation                                                                                        $1,800

Hispanic Business Center                                                                                                  $1,500

HOLA Ohio                                                                                                                     $2,500

Metro West Community Development Organization                                                             $1,500

Neighborhood Solutions, Inc. – for Ward 7 Observer                                                            $5,000

Organizations of Chinese Americans, Inc. (OCA), Greater Cleveland                                      $2,000

Promise of Democracy Foundation                                                                                     $5,000

Smart Development Inc.                                                                                                    $2,500

Strengthening Our Students (SOS)                                                                                      $2,000

Upcycle Parts Shop                                                                                                           $3,200

US Together, Inc.                                                                                                             $5,000

WOVU 95.9 FM – Burten, Bell, Carr Community Radio                                                       $5,000

Young Latino Network (YLN)                                                                                           $3,000