News

Countdown to our Future: Census 2020

Caitlin Furey Mayo

“The 2020 Census is here, and it is up to us to get counted and ensure that all of us, our families and our communities, are part of American’s narrative for the next decade.” – Stacey Abrams, Founder, Fair Count  

As the 2020 Census approaches its latest deadline of October 15, the Greater Washington region is inching closer to achieving a complete count, thanks to the work of community partners: Ayuda, Identity, Inc., Latin American Youth Center, Liberty’s Promise, and Mary’s Center.  These five organizations were part of the Crimsonbridge Foundation’s Bridges for Census 2020 program, which awarded $60,000 in grants to expand multilingual outreach work in engaging populations that have been historically undercounted in the census.

Developed by program officer, Caitlin Mayo, the Bridges for Census 2020 program is an outgrowth of the foundation’s Bridges and Bridges for Schools communications capacity building programs. Through these programs the Crimsonbridge Foundation has partnered with nonprofits, hospitals, and schools to leverage multilingual communications to connect families with resources that will support their success and full community participation. For Bridges for Census 2020, Mayo sought out nonprofit partners within the Crimsonbridge network who were not only committed to supporting a complete count effort that included the clients, families, and communities they work with every day, but had a history of successful outreach strategies, established relationships, and expertise in working with multilingual immigrant communities.  The work has been ongoing throughout 2019 and 2020. All of the organizations have adapted in response to COVID-19 in order to continue census outreach while keeping their staff and communities safe.  During the 2020 Census, multilingual outreach has proven to be a key strategy to ensure that all people receive the information and resources needed to get counted.  Innovative strategies have included lifting youth voices through educational podcasts, setting up census “pop up tents” in outdoor spaces to provide guidance while complying with social distancing measures, and creating multilingual video tutorials to distribute widely on social media and directly with clients. 

 All over the country, nonprofit organizations have worked tirelessly to get a fair and accurate count, which can only be achieved if the census data includes populations that have been historically undercounted.  Though the Census Bureau uses the term “Hard to Count” to refer to these populations, which include immigrants, people of color, and young children, the reality is that although the census is meant to count every person living in the United States, the systems in place to do so are inadequate, which in the past has left certain populations and communities uncounted.  This is where nonprofits step in to play a crucial role in obtaining a fair and accurate count.  

“We know that the census informs how government, businesses, researchers, and communities make significant decisions, including allocating political representation, opening or closing businesses, providing social services, and allocating funding for schools, healthcare facilities, and basic infrastructure.” said Mayo. “For our region to thrive, we need this information to be accurate and inclusive.”

 The census matters.  It is a source of power in the sense that information gleaned from the census can be used to build a more inclusive and equitable Greater Washington region.  The census will impact our region’s recovery from COVID-19.  During these last two days, get out the message – we all count

To see the response rate in your community, visit the Census 2020 Hard to Count/Response Rate Map!

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Innovative Outreach for the 2020 Census

Caitlin Furey Mayo August 2020

For more than 50 years, Latin American Youth Center (LAYC) has offered multi-cultural, comprehensive, and innovative programs that address youths’ social, academic, and career needs.  As an organization with deep knowledge, established relationships, and expertise working with multi-lingual immigrant communities, LAYC is uniquely positioned to increase participation of typically underrepresented groups in the 2020 Census in the Greater Washington region. 

In early 2019, LAYC crafted a plan for census outreach that would leverage one of their most innovative programs – the Teen Center Media Program.  After researching the impact completing the census would have in their community, DC youth worked in LAYC’s Media Arts Lab to develop bilingual outreach material on census facts and myths and executed an outreach campaign in DC’s Columbia Heights neighborhood.  When the COVID-19 crisis erupted in the spring, community organizations all over the country were forced to adjust their census outreach plans, many of which rely significantly on in-person networking and education.

In mid-March, the media program transitioned to a virtual platform and LAYC staff focused their efforts on the immediate, food, rent, technology, and mental health needs of the community.  Youth in the media program continued to meet virtually after school hours to learn graphic design skills. Many youth completed the work directly through their phones as they did not have computers.

As Lupi Quinteros-Grady, LAYC President & CEO, reflects on the last few months, she says “It is critical that our youth continue to be engaged and exposed to learning. More than ever, we must be intentional about ensuring our youth are connected and engaged so they can have a sense of community, support, belonging, and a safe space to learn and grow with their peers. The Teen Center Media Program has been one of these spaces for our young people.”

Youth designed bi-lingual census flyers to place in grocery bags that are delivered weekly to LAYC families. LAYC staff and youth worked to address the new challenges to completing the 2020 Census and even added podcasts to their digital outreach strategies.  Recorded by LAYC youth, podcast episodes focused on how the census intersects with race and immigration.  In the episodes, youth interviewed each other as well as people in the Columbia Heights neighborhood.  When asked, “Why is the census important to you?,” one youth participant shared her understanding of how the census will impact her community: “The census determines how much funding public facilities such as schools and medical centers in certain areas receive. Schools such as mine need funding to modernize and increase the quantity of materials like laptops and textbooks. Old laptops make it hard to get work done quickly and old textbooks don’t always have up-to-date and accurate information.” The interviews also highlighted the challenges that arise when completing the census, including difficulty navigating questions on race and ethnicity, as well as perceptions of fear and mistrust in the process.  Several youth participants shared that they had encouraged their parents to complete the census online and helped them through that process. 

Amidst novel and challenging circumstances, LAYC Teen Center staff and youth not only creatively kept media arts programming and their sense of community alive, they effectively elevated youth voices in “getting out the count” for the 2020 Census.  With the current self-response rate at just over 60%, we must all do our part between now and September 30th to ensure that every person in the country is counted.    

Listen to LAYC’s 2020 Census podcast episodes here!

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How Organizations Can Support College Students in their Return to Campus

Robyn Attebury Ellis August 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended higher education and is posing unique challenges for nonprofit organizations dedicated to helping first-generation college students succeed. Organizations continue to show courage and creativity as they adapt to meet new challenges and provide timely support for the students and families they serve. In June, the College Completion Colleagues (C3) Initiative partners – the Scheidel Foundation, the Crimsonbridge Foundation,  Capital Partners for Education, College Success Foundation DC, Generation Hope, New Futures, CollegeTracks, and Collegiate Directions – met virtually to brainstorm and share strategies to support college students’ return to campus during the pandemic.  

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Crimsonbridge Founder, Gabriela Smith, Recognized in Washington Life’s Philanthropic 50

July 2020

Each year, Washington Life Magazine recognizes the philanthropists and philanthropic foundations that are making an exemplary difference in the Greater Washington region. This year, Crimsonbridge Foundation Founder & President Gabriela Smith, was recognized for her innovative approach to philanthropy through the work of the Crimsonbridge Foundation.

We are happy to share with you the full interview below.

Education, Gabriela Smith believes, is the pathway toward racial and economic justice. Smith created the Crimsonbridge Foundation to focus on education, leadership development, and non-profit capacity building, with a particular lens towards serving the Hispanic community in a tribute to Smith’s own formation and heritage.

“It was thanks to scholarships that I was able to advance my education,” she says. Hispanics are expected to account for 30 percent of the U.S. population by 2060. “These will be our future service providers and career professionals, our future leaders, scientists and inventors, and this is the generation that we need to help educate now,” she added. Smith is proud of the impact she and her team have already demonstrated in the foundation’s short five year history.

An anonymous donor for many years, Smith was a founding investor in Venture Philanthropy Partners (VPP), the organization that utilizes a business approach to giving. As she put it in a recent interview, “VPP helped develop best practices for investing in the social sector, and, with this, the importance of outcome measurements and results.” Smith is also a former member of Georgetown University’s board of regents and of the Harvard Kennedy School’s dean’s council, her alma mater.

This interview appears in the July 2020 Edition of Washington Life Magazine.

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Message to Our Community Partners – May 2020

Danielle M. Reyes & Gabriela Smith May 2020

Two months ago, we initiated a remote work plan for our team. While adapting personally and professionally to the current climate, the Crimsonbridge team kept grants, programs, and communications work moving forward and we are grateful for their commitment. As we look ahead, Crimsonbridge is prepared to remain a teleworking organization for the foreseeable future, but this has not and will not change our availability, our interest in participating in #community events, or the long-term goals of our grantmaking work in Education, Leadership Development, and Communications Capacity Building.

Crimsonbridge team members have worked closely, even while virtual, with our grantee community partners on promoting Census 2020, identifying new leaders for the Crimsonbridge Leadership Fund, and preparing for the fourth year of the Hispanic Education Imperative Fund. We are committed to moving our shared work forward and programs such as the College Completion Colleagues (C3) Initiative, Hispanic Education Imperative, Bridges for Schools, Bridges for Census 2020, and Crimsonbridge Leadership Fund remain engaged and focused on supporting the success of students, parents, organizations, and nonprofit leaders. In addition, we have been vocal advocates on program-aligned issues that have received increased attention during the COVID-19 pandemic, including the urgent need for bilingual/Spanish language communications and the need for tools and resources to support the retention and graduation of first generation college students.

Over the past eight weeks, the Foundation has joined philanthropic partners in supporting the development of funds to meet urgent needs in the Greater Washington region, while keeping it’s focus on sustainability for the long term. Recent and ongoing efforts include:

  • Emergency Relief. We contributed early to the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund at Greater Washington Community Foundation and are directing requests for emergency funding to this Fund.
  • Flexibility. Our existing policy of flexibility with proposal and final report due dates as urgent needs arise continues as always.
  • Sharing Messages. The Foundation is using its communications capacity and reach to help share your work, needs, and messaging with the hope of increasing visibility and connecting partners to resources. Email your program officer to share content.
  • Added Accessibility. We are here for you. Our team members can always be reached by email and can also be reached by phone or video via Zoom.
  • Staying Connected. Our whole team is on Twitter as is the Foundation at @CrimsonbridgeDC. Please know we value all of your communications and are reviewing our grantee partner information daily, from email to online news to stay informed.
  • Staying Engaged. Our staff continue to participate in community partner activities and are eager to attend online events and even volunteer where possible. Visit our #community page to learn more or reach out to your program officer with an opportunity.

In closing, we want to express our deep gratitude. Over the past two months, we have watched school and nonprofit partners continue to demonstrate a passion for their work, ability to adapt, and commitment to our region’s children, students, families, and communities. We stand with you and we give thanks for all of the teachers, administrators, nonprofit employees, and essential workers in our community who are helping, supporting, and caring for friends and neighbors in need.

Sincerely,

Danielle M. Reyes, Executive Director and Gabriela Smith, Founder & President

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A Message to Our Community Partners

Danielle M. Reyes & Gabriela Smith

We are writing to you with hope that you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy. During this time, the foundation and its team members remain committed to our community partnerships, as we all experience the impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus) personally and professionally.

In light of unforeseen challenges of the current climate, we are adapting some practices, while doubling down on others. Over the past week, we’ve connected directly with partners to address any specific concerns. In addition, we seek to provide flexibility and support to all of our community partners in the following ways:

  1. Extensions for reports and proposals. The Foundation reminds you of its existing policy of flexibility with proposal and final report due dates as urgent needs arise. Contact us.
  2. Sharing your messages. The Crimsonbridge Foundation and its team want to help share your work and needs and will use our communications resources to extend your reach. Have an urgent message? Email your program officer.
  3. Added accessibility. We are here for you. Though working remotely, our team members can always be reached by email and can now be reached by Zoom and Google Hangouts.
  4. Staying connected. Our whole team is on Twitter as is the Foundation at @CrimsonbridgeDC. Please know we value all of your communications and are reviewing our grantee partner information daily, from email to online news.

We also want to say, “Thank you!” to our nonprofit and school community partners for all that you continue to do during this unprecedented time. Though information on COVID-19 continues to develop daily, we’ve watched schools and nonprofits demonstrate their ability to be responsive, nimble, and committed to the children and families of our region. We stand with you in this commitment.

Sincerely,

Danielle M. Reyes, Executive Director and Gabriela Smith, Founder & President

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