Renaissance Journalism selects five Bay Area nonprofits to receive funding for innovative census projects

Renaissance Journalism has awarded a total of $50,000 in grants to five Bay Area news organizations to implement strategies for raising awareness and increasing participation in the upcoming 2020 Census among hard-to-count groups.

The grants are part of Renaissance Journalism’s initiative Census 2020: “Everyone Counts” Reporting Project. They are aimed at supporting innovative, collaborative and community-focused reporting projects that target groups who have historically been undercounted by the census, such as immigrants, non-English speakers and children.

Census or population data is used to guide how much money each state receives for federally funded programs and services, such as health services, nutrition assistance, highway planning and construction, early childhood education programs and housing assistance. Census data also determines the number of congressional seats and Electoral College votes a state gets.

“The census is incredibly important to our democracy and to the well-being of our communities,” said Jon Funabiki, executive director of Renaissance Journalism. “An undercount of Bay Area residents could result in a significant loss of federal funds and a number of congressional representatives.”

Grantees were selected from a sizable pool of applicants based on a competitive RFP process. “We were looking for unique and innovative journalistic and storytelling projects that were community-focused and collaborative,” Funabiki said. Journalists and news organizations were encouraged to partner with non-profit, community-based groups and to tap “trusted community messengers” in the planning and implementation of their projects.


Bay City News Foundation, the nonprofit behind and the Bay City News wire service, will focus on meeting the information needs of emerging Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander communities in the San Francisco Bay Area, specifically targeting the Mongolian, Burmese, Bhutanese, Nepalese, Tongan, Samoan and Fijian communities. They will partner with Ethnic Media Services in this effort.

El Timpano, a grass-roots reporting lab, will encourage census participation in East Oakland’s Latinx immigrant population by bringing a “community microphone” to popular community-gathering places, such as libraries, busy street corners, schools, churches, and transit plazas, so that people can share—in Spanish— their stories and concerns about the census. El Timpano will also encourage people to sign up for its SMS service, which will provide information and answer questions about the census via text message.

KBBF 89.1 FM, the nation’s first bilingual public radio station, will reach out to Latin American undocumented immigrants, including many migrant workers, in Northern California, by providing informational radio features in Spanish, as well as in two or three of the most widely spoken indigenous languages, such as MIxteco and Triqui.

Radio Bilingüe Latino Public Radio will collaborate with the grassroots nonprofit Asociación Mayab of the Bay Area to produce reports, creative productions and talk shows on the views and experiences of Bay Area Mayans about the Census. Stories will explore both real and perceived barriers to participation, raise awareness about the importance of being counted, and address listener-submitted questions and concerns.

YR Media  (formerly known as Youth Radio) will address the well-documented undercount of minors and children by empowering their students to create a “peer-to-peer informational campaign that mobilizes youth as community messengers who will educate one another, and their families.” YR Media intends to focus their efforts on issues of equity and marginalization, as they relate to young people and the census.

The “Everyone Counts Reporting Project” was developed with support and funding from the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.