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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Crimsonbridge Celebrates its 5 Year Anniversary with Executive Director Danielle M. Reyes

Bethesda, MD, October 5, 2020 – Five years ago, Danielle M. Reyes joined the Crimsonbridge Foundation as its founding Executive Director.  In partnership with Gabriela Smith, the Founder and President of the Crimsonbridge Foundation, Danielle has developed the Crimsonbridge Foundation to be an innovative and highly engaged philanthropic platform that is committed to working alongside its community partners to achieve impact.  In addition to designing grantmaking programs that have served more than 150 nonprofit organizations, Catholic schools, and universities throughout the Greater Washington region, Crimsonbridge has grown from one full-time employee to four, guides the investments of Crimsonbridge Group, has established an affiliated LLC, and has increased its grantmaking annually.

Danielle came to the Crimsonbridge Foundation with over 25 years of experience in the education, nonprofit, and philanthropy sectors. Her experience in education includes several years as a public-school teacher, university instructor, afterschool program director, and as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco.  Danielle’s time as an educator working with students from under-resourced and immigrant families motivated her to take on program and leadership roles at education-focused nonprofit organizations. In 2002 she transitioned to working in philanthropy and spent more than a decade at the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, where she developed grantmaking programs and communications strategies. During that time she actively pursued leadership experiences in philanthropy as a Council of Foundations Emerging Philanthropic Leader Fellow, the chair of the Metro DC Chapter of Hispanics in Philanthropy Funders’ Collaborative, and as a board member of the Taproot Foundation and Asian Americans Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy.  She has been an outspoken voice challenging philanthropy to be inclusive, innovative, and intentional – principles that were very aligned with the vision of Gabriela Smith.

“Danielle possesses a unique combination of strengths and talents” said Smith. “She is a dynamic leader, deeply rooted in community, and very entrepreneurial when it comes to developing philanthropic programs and strategies.” The Crimsonbridge Foundation recognizes Danielle M. Reyes for her bold and exceptional leadership, her contributions to philanthropy, and her unwavering commitment to our work in Education, Leadership Development, and Capacity Building.

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Abigail Galván Joins Crimsonbridge as Communications and Program Officer

June 2020

Washington, DC – The Crimsonbridge Foundation welcomes Abigail Galván as its new Communications and Program Officer.  Since its inception, Crimsonbridge has invested in and advocated for the key role that communications plays in amplifying impact and helping advance an organization’s mission. Galván, who most recently served as the Religious Freedom Institute’s Development Director, will lead the foundation’s internal communications, while also working to support the foundation’s innovative communications capacity building programs, which focus on increasing effective and inclusive bilingual and Spanish language communications for nonprofits and schools. She will also work to design and initiate new programming to increase Hispanic community engagement and Spanish language communications with parishes.

In her most recent position at the Religious Freedom Institute (RFI), Galván was critical in helping launch the start-up and establishing the systems and relationships necessary to set it up for long term success. As Development Director she worked closely with RFI’s Communications Director to develop the institute’s tone, messaging, and branding in order to communicate its impact to diverse audiences and stakeholders.

Prior to joining RFI, she helped devise, finance, and launch the Bethlehem Museum for Heritage and Culture as the special program coordinator of the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation. Galván has also had the privilege of participating as a region IV delegate in the V Encuentro, a significant ecclesial process by which bishops come together with the Hispanic/Latino community to interpret and to project into the future the Hispanic/Latino identity, presence, needs, and contributions to the Church and to U.S. society as a whole. Since the process, she has been involved with the execution of the strategies and recommendations from the V Encuentro and looks forward to continuing this work in a professional capacity at Crimsonbridge.

“The foundation has been intentional about building a team rich in nonprofit work and leadership experience” says Danielle M. Reyes, executive director of the Crimsonbridge Foundation. “Abigail’s interests and impressive background are remarkably aligned with the foundation’s programs and mission.”

Galván, who resides in Washington, DC, received her bachelor’s degree in International Politics with a concentration in International Law, Norms, and Institutions from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. She is also a proud scholar of the Georgetown Scholarship Program, a community partner program of the Crimsonbridge Foundation.


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FADICA-sponsored research identifies keys to Catholic parish vitality

Four key areas studied, eight characteristics identified

Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities June 2020

A COMMUNITY PARTNER PRESS RELEASE:
(Washington, DC) — Catholic parishes that are welcoming and missionary create real vitality in the life of the parish says a major new study titled, “Open Wide the Doors to Christ: A Study of Catholic Social Innovation for Parish Vitality.” The research was commissioned by FADICA, a unique peer network of philanthropists supporting Catholic activities, and conducted by Marti R. Jewell, D.Min. and Mark Mogilka, MSW, MA.

“Parishes with vitality send people out in service to others in the community, letting go of parochial barriers,” Dr. Jewell said.

“Without denying the challenging realities for many parishes, what we also found was hope-filled parishes, whole communities excited about their parish and their future,” said Mr. Mogilka.

“We are pleased to be releasing the findings of this timely study,” said Alexia Kelley, FADICA President & CEO. “Perhaps one outcome from this period of pandemic could be that as parishes begin to re-open, pastors and parish leaders equipped with the study’s findings might find life-giving strategies relevant to their own context,” said Kelley.

FADICA’s member Working Group on Church Vitality focused on how Catholic social innovation might foster vitality in U.S. Catholic parishes.  In 2018, FADICA produced a groundbreaking study titled, Catholic Social Innovation in the Global Refugee Crisis.  This second study on parish vitality further articulates the concept of Catholic social innovation.

FADICA’s working group chose to focus the research on best practices and innovation in four distinct areas: Welcoming, Young Adults, Lay and Religious Women in Leadership, and Hispanic Ministry. The research entailed a review of more than 200 initiatives, websites and books, and more than 65 interviews with pastoral leaders and innovators across the country.  The research team also explored more than 20 different metric tools designed to measure parish vitality.

“We believe there are amazing assets in the diversity of the Catholic community, said Gabriela Smith, President and Founder, Crimsonbridge Foundation, a funder of the study. “By learning from dioceses and parishes experiencing parish vitality in these four areas of focus, we can share and replicate successful practices and communication strategies that support active and inclusive parish communities,” she said.

Based on this in-depth study, the report highlights seven key characteristics which together generate vitality in Catholic parishes, as follows:

  • Innovation. Pastoral leaders engage in a variety of innovative processes to address difficult challenges they face.  Use of digital tools like the parish website and social media are considered important ways to connect with people, especially young adults.
    • Have excellent pastors. These pastors have a desire, qualities and skills to work collaboratively and co-responsibly with staff and parish leaders. 

    “One of the most important findings is that pastors need to be ‘relational’ in every sense of the word,” said Jewell. “They need to be adaptive and open to new ways of doing things and being relational can be a learned skill,” she said.

    • Have leadership teams. The essential contribution of lay leaders – both staff and volunteers, share responsibility for the life of the parish with the pastor. 

    “Pastors realize that they can’t do it all and they need a team,” said Mogilka.  “In parishes with much vitality, we found pastors who are collaborative, servant-pastoral leaders who know how to identify gifts and talents, to affirm those gifts and talents and to empower lay people,” Mogilka said.  

    • Possess a holistic, compelling vision. Pastoral leaders have a vision for parish life that includes engaging in relational ministry, fostering authentic relationships within the parish community.
    • Place priority on Sunday experience.  An importance is placed on gathering for Sunday Mass to hear God’s Word, celebrate and share the Eucharist, and being sent forth in service.
    • Foster spiritual growth and maturity.  A variety of entry points are provided for all people to build their relationship with Jesus that sustains them on their journey.
    • Live the faith in service. Parishes live out the call to form missionaries by enabling parishioners to meet the spiritual and human needs of the marginalized, hungry and homeless; and to care for our communities and creation.
    • Utilize online communications tools. The parish website is the doorway – the first place people “check out” the parish. Good, interactive, and culturally sensitive websites are critical, as well as the proper use of social media, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

    Researchers Jewell and Mogilka studied the four specific areas of parish life selected by the FADICA working group and drew these conclusions:

    Welcoming Parishes.  Not surprising, parishes with vitality have a welcoming spirit and are intentional about the “process of welcoming,” starting with trained greeters, identifying special opportunities to publicly welcome newcomers, e.g., at weddings, baptisms and funerals, outreach and invitation initiatives found on the parish website and offered via social ministry.

    Young Adults.  Keys to engaging this group of parishioners include really listening to young adults, building relationships and responding to their needs, ensuring that young adults are integrated into the leadership groups at the parish, paying attention to the engaged and married couples and young families, and using social media and personal contact to build relationships.

    Women and Women Religious in Leadership. Parishes with vitality hire lay and women religious at all levels of leadership responsibility, support and affirm their leadership and ensure balanced representation by women and men on councils and committees. The researchers encouraged bishops to deploy Canon 517.2, which allows the appointment of “deacons and others who are not priests” to provide pastoral care of parishes in cases when there is a shortage of priests. The study pointed out that over 3,300 parishes lack a resident priest, but the number of dioceses using this option is declining.

    Hispanic Ministry.  Parish diversity is seen as a grace for parishes with vitality.  Pastoral leaders are sensitive to the variety of cultures present, provide cultural sensitivity training for staff and volunteers, offer bi-lingual liturgies, as well as printed and digital materials, and specific devotions and celebrations for feast days for the entire community.

    “The recommendations of the parish vitality study are practical, relevant, and speak directly to the success that investments in communications capacity building can have towards building thriving, inclusive, and engaged parish communities,” said Danielle M. Reyes, Executive Director, Crimsonbridge Foundation.

    “The pandemic has really caused pastors and parish leaders to stretch themselves and to be open to new ways of doing things,” said Jewell. 

    The study concluded that parishes with vitality are open to listening and designing new and creative ways to respond to the changing culture with enthusiasm, intentional hospitality, and who welcome diversity as a grace.  To read the Executive Summary, click here. To read the full report, click here.

    ###

    Media Contact
    Tom Gallagher
    Religion Media Company
    (203) 561-3585 / tleogallagher@gmail.com

    About FADICA
    Since its establishment in 1976, FADICA (Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities) has become the leading philanthropic peer network which serves as a catalyst for a vital Catholic Church, Catholic ministries, and the common good. The organization promotes the growth and effectiveness of Catholic philanthropy inspired by the joy of the Gospel and the Catholic social tradition.  For more information on FADICA, see www.fadica.org.

    About the Researchers
    Marti R. Jewell, D.Min. Dr. Marti R. Jewell, Associate Professor Emerita, served as an associate professor of pastoral theology in the Neuhoff School of Ministry at the University of Dallas and was named the University’s 2017 “Michael A. Haggar Scholar.” She directed the Emerging Models of Pastoral Leadership Project, a national research initiative funded by the Lilly Endowment designed to study excellence in parish leadership, and was a diocesan director in the Archdiocese of Louisville. Her books include Navigating Pastoral Transitions: A Parish Leaders’ Guide, The Changing Face of Church, and The Next Generation of Pastoral Leaders. She received the Called and Gifted Award from the Association of Graduate Programs in Ministry for her contributions to the field of lay ecclesial ministry, and the Lumen Gentium award from the Conference for Pastoral Planners and Council Development for her work and research with parishes and pastoral leaders. She continues to write, consult, and teach. Dr. Jewell holds a doctorate from the Catholic University of America.

    Mark Mogilka, MSW, MA Mark Mogilka serves as Senior Consultant for Meitler, a Church planning and management consulting firm located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Prior to his retirement from diocesan ministry in June 2017, Mogilka served for 42 years in diocesan office ministries in three dioceses and served seven different bishops. He has master’s degrees in Social Work from the University of Wisconsin and Religious Studies from the University of Detroit. He has done workshops, consulting and planning projects in over 60 different dioceses in the United States and Canada and continues to serve the Church as a workshop presenter, pastoral researcher and consultant. He co-authored a book entitled “Pastoring Multiple Parishes.” In 2007 he received the Yves Congar Award for “extraordinary service, initiative, creativity and sharing” from the Conference for Pastoral Planning and Council Development. In 2017 he was given the Rev. Louis J Luzbetak Award by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University “for exemplary church research”.

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How You Can be There for a Young Parent in College

Guest post by Devon Haynes of Generation Hope May 2020

Generation Hope Scholars are no strangers to overcoming obstacles and persisting against the odds. They are all young parents in college, and every day they are balancing a combination of going to school, parenting, and dealing with the range of systemic and logistical challenges that come with being a low-income parent of color. They are also working, primarily in the retail and service industries, and some are even caring for their own parents. 

Nationally, the outlook is bleak: fewer than 2% of women who have a baby by age 18 go on to earn their degree before age 30. COVID-19 has thrown up yet another roadblock for Generation Hope Scholars, but with wraparound support that includes financial aid, academic tutoring, caring mentors, mental health care, career readiness support, and case management, we can ensure the pandemic doesn’t derail their dreams. 

If you’re looking for ways to build community and make a lasting impact, consider joining Generation Hope as a Mentor for a Scholar. 

Generation Hope is currently seeking caring adult mentors who will support a young parent as they work toward their dream of graduating college. Our mentors are people from all walks of life who are passionate about supporting teen parents in college and believe that education can be transformative for two generations–our Scholars and their children. 

Each Mentor builds a strong bond with their Scholar, meeting up once a month to do a fun activity or to just catch up. Generation Hope’s program fosters meaningful, long-term connections since Mentors support their Scholars through their entire college journey. Mentors are a consistent person Scholars can turn to for encouragement or a listening ear.  

“My mentor Lisa and I have grown very close in the past 5 years. As Lisa says, I am the tightrope walker, and she is my safety net. She has been one of my biggest supporters throughout school, always celebrating times in which I have gotten a 4.0 in the semester, made the Dean’s List, or when I have received scholarships. She has also been there for me during the difficult times. Lisa is always there to listen to me. Lisa always believed I was going to get through it no matter what and reminded me of how close I was getting to my goal. I am grateful that Lisa never let me stop.” – Ana (George Mason University) Pictured Left: Mentor Lisa with Scholar Ana and her children

Mentors also play a role with financial support. Mentors commit to providing $1,200/year ($100/month) toward their Scholar’s tuition if the Scholar is attending a 2-year college or $2,400/year ($200/month) if the Scholar is attending a 4-year college. This contribution — made monthly or once a year — bridges the gap between a Scholar’s financial aid (including government Pell Grants) and the real cost of attending college, to help them graduate with as little debt as possible. Mentors make this tax-deductible donation themselves or raise it through fundraising. 

Generation Hope Mentors are the “special sauce” that help our Scholars beat the odds–graduating at a rate that is nearly 8 times the graduation rate of single mothers nationwide, and exceeding the average rate for all college students. And we provide robust support to our Mentors. Each Mentor is backed up day-to-day by our staff of case workers, or “Hope Coaches,” and we also have a Mental Health Coordinator on staff. We are truly a team, so mentors don’t feel like they are on their own.

Will you join us as a Mentor for our incoming Scholar class? In the face of the incredible challenges from COVID-19, we’ve already seen so many inspiring examples of what is possible when communities come together to help one another through these tough times. To learn more, or to apply, visit our website or contact our Director of Programming, Caroline Griswold Short (caroline@supportgenerationhope.org). 

Generation Hope is one of six nonprofit organizations focused on student success that is part of the 3-year College Completion Colleagues (C3) Initiative in partnership with the Crimsonbridge Foundation and the Scheidel Foundation.

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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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Liberty’s Promise and Census 2020

April 2020

A Community Partner Guest Post
Liberty’s Promise supports immigrant youth in the Greater Washington region by providing them with means to become actively involved in civic life, pursue higher education, and embark upon meaningful careers. In the fall of 2019, we introduced the topic of the census to our youth through our two after school programs at Gaithersburg High School, Civics and Citizenship, and Civic Engagement for Beginning English Language Learners (CE‐BELL). We started by discussing what the census is and how important it is for the community and the country. We explained how the Census is safe and anonymous, and does not put the population, including the most vulnerable individuals such as undocumented residents, at risk of being exposed to law enforcement authorities.

Our youth learned about how they can play a crucial role in Gaithersburg’s outreach efforts in hard-to-count census tracts. We invited a graphic designer employed by the City of Gaithersburg to give our youth insight on how to design a flyer. With the help of the graphic designer, youth worked together in small groups and used their talents to design and create posters to display at Gaithersburg High School. Our youth also participated in a photo and video shoot as part of the Gaithersburg Census 2020 campaign. Youth and staff alike enjoyed being part of the event, and are now featured on the City’s website. If you drive around Gaithersburg, you may see them on promotional posters at various bus stops!

Since schools closed in early March in response to COVID-19, Liberty’s Promise has been working to adjust our programs. We are now relying on social platforms, video-conferencing, and phone calls to continue our work with our youth. Census outreach will no longer be conducted in-person, so our youth are working on crafting a video message and a graphic to share on social media. Despite challenges presented by COVID-19, our youth are still working to help achieve a Complete Count for Census 2020 in our community of Gaithersburg!  

By Julien Labiche, Director of Montgomery County and Prince George’s County Programs, Liberty’s Promise.
Liberty’s Promise was featured in the Special Census 2020 edition of in Gaithersburg. Click to read: “OUTREACH & ADVOCACY: Census and Youth Mentoring Programs

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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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Goal to Reach 21,000 Adult Learners by 2021

Caitlin Furey January 2020

The Montgomery Coalition for Adult English Literacy (MCAEL), a coalition of over 60 English language instruction programs, is working to build a thriving community and effective workforce in Montgomery County, MD.  According to census data, there are over 126,000 adults in the county who are limited in their English proficiency.  In response to a growing need for English language instruction, MCAEL set a goal to grow its annual reach from 15,000 to 21,000 adult learners by 2021.  Potential strategies for expansion include partnering with public schools, utilizing literacy apps to serve learners who cannot attend in-person classes, and providing tools to community-based organizations that are positioned to start their own ESOL programs.  The Crimsonbridge Foundation is supporting these targeted efforts to develop new ESOL learning opportunities for hard-to-reach populations in Montgomery County.  In this video, hear from two adult learners about their experiences learning English at the Family Discovery Center, a provider in the MCAEL network. 

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Investing in A Complete Count for the 2020 Census

Brendon Smith January 2020

The Crimsonbridge Foundation has awarded $60,000 in grants to five nonprofit organizations in the Greater Washington region that are working to increase participation in the 2020 Census. The organizations, which include Ayuda, Identity Inc., Latin American Youth Center, Liberty’s Promise, and Mary’s Center, are committed to supporting a complete count effort that includes the clients, families, and communities they work with every day.

Why is it important for philanthropy to invest in getting a complete census count? The census informs how government, businesses, researchers, and communities make significant decisions, including allocating political representation, opening or closing businesses, and providing social services. It is estimated that more than 55,000 individuals in the Greater Washington region were undercounted in the 2010 Census and that the full need of our community was not captured.

According to a 2016 report from the Census Bureau, low-income communities, English language learners, and immigrants are among populations that are historically undercounted in the census. The census is supposed to count every living person in the U.S., regardless of citizenship status. Although the Supreme Court ruled against including a citizenship question in the 2020 Census, an atmosphere of misinformation, fear, and uncertainty persists, heightening the risk of an undercount.

In 2019, the Crimsonbridge Foundation expanded its Bridges Program, which supports nonprofits in developing communications tools and strategies to effectively reach and engage with bilingual and Spanish-speaking families, to include work specific to the 2020 Census. Organizations were selected for Bridges Census 2020 grants based not only on their outreach strategy, but on their knowledge, established relationships, and expertise in working with multi-lingual immigrant communities.

The following is a snapshot of the 2020 Census Complete Count plans for each of the five grant recipients. To learn more we encourage you to visit the websites of these community partners.

Ayuda, a nonprofit legal services provider, has developed a multi-pronged strategy that involves outreach through social media and community events, as well as training staff attorneys, social workers, and volunteers on how to talk to their clients about the census. All outreach will be conducted in multiple languages, including Spanish, French, Amharic, Tagalog, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Portuguese.

Identity, Inc., which works with youth and their families who live in high-poverty areas of Montgomery County, will execute their ¡Tú Sí Cuentas! You Do Count! project throughout Montgomery County to ensure that low-income Latinos, recent immigrants, and TransLatinx residents are counted in the 2020 Census. The project will start with a needs assessment to determine the primary obstacles that are likely to prevent individuals from completing the census in 2020. Identity will then create an awareness and outreach strategy to be implemented in five of the top ten non-respondent communities of Montgomery County.

Latin American Youth Center, which has served immigrant youth and families in the region for more than 50 years, will leverage a current program, the Teen Center Media Program, and create a cohort of 30 youth who will learn about the census and design a plan to increase local participation and awareness. After researching the effects of the census on their community, youth will work in the LAYC’s Media Arts Lab to develop bilingual outreach materials on census facts and myths and execute an outreach campaign in the Columbia Heights neighborhood.

Liberty’s Promise is partnering with the City of Gaithersburg to target census outreach and education to a specific hard-to-count census tract in Gaithersburg, where nearly half of residents are foreign-born, and 20 percent report that no one in the household speaks English “very well.” Liberty’s Promise will add a census component to their existing civic engagement program at Gaithersburg High School, which is offered in English and Spanish. Youth participants will attend regional complete count meetings and develop and execute an outreach plan designed to increase response rates in the hard-to-count community in which they live.

Mary’s Center, a provider of high-quality healthcare, education, and social services, will identify and train Census Champions from among their staff to lead efforts throughout the organization to educate and motivate staff and community members around the 2020 Census. By incorporating census education into the existing workflow, Mary’s Center will reach more than 500 community members each day. Mary’s Center received a grant from the DC Mayor’s Office to support census outreach in DC, and Crimsonbridge support will expand outreach to their two Maryland sites.

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