2019 Grants Challenge

Census 2020 Goodwill Ambassadors Program

The Census Goodwill Ambassadors (CGA) program is the City of Los Angeles’ effort to recruit, train, and deploy volunteers to assist with informing, educating and motivating hard-to-count populations in Los Angeles to respond to the 2020 census questionnaire. CGAs will effectively be the face and voice of Census 2020 on-the-ground outreach efforts. Obtaining this grant will allow us to provide micro-grants to CGA volunteers to carry out education and outreach activities.


Briefly tell us a story that demonstrates how your organization turns inspiration into impact.

The Office of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Census 2020 Initiative was established because the Mayor recognizes that it is more important than ever to make sure that all Angelenos are counted. Mayor Garcetti issued Executive Directive 21 to direct City departments to assign liaisons to work with our office, develop Census outreach plans, and has invested $1.2 million to-date for Census 2020. Still, the potential addition of a citizenship question has caused fear and anxiety around Census 2020 during a time when overall trust in the federal government is eroding, namely among our immigrant communities. With more than 1.5 million immigrants living in the City of Los Angeles, comprising over 38% of our population, the story of Los Angeles is fundamentally tied to the stories of our immigrant residents. The Mayor’s Office has been deeply engaged in efforts to integrate immigrants into the City’s social, economic, and political fabric through the Office of Immigrant Affairs. To date, the Office has actively engaged more than 150,000 Angelenos through its work to coordinate city services, develop programs and initiatives that promote citizenship, civic engagement and advocate on local, state, and national legislation and policy. From the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs to the incredible programs provided by local community organizations, Los Angeles comes together to support our immigrant neighbors and the 2020 Census is no different. We need to ensure that our immigrant populations are included in the nation’s headcount, or the full story of Los Angeles will not be told in 2020. By recruiting and training members of our own hard-to-count communities--like immigrants--to serve as CGA’s the Mayor’s Office will leverage trusted relationships and promote a sense of safety and confidence among our hardest-to-count.

Which of the CONNECT metrics will your submission impact?​​

Government responsiveness to residents’ needs

Rates of volunteerism

Total number of local social media friends and connections Angelenos have

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?​

City of Los Angeles

How will your project make LA the best place to CONNECT?

The Census Goodwill Ambassadors (CGA) program will make measurable progress in the way Angelenos connect. Most directly, the CGA program will likely increase the rates of volunteerism across LA in 2020, and hopefully beyond. Additionally, the program will be responsive to residents’ needs by seeking to understand the variety of barriers to completing the survey and then recruiting and training trusted messengers to address those barriers. Since the CGA program will promote civic engagement, we hope it will increase voting rates in hard-to-count (HTC) communities by familiarizing them with government processes. Since CGAs will be encouraged to utilize social media for posting events and content, the program will foster local social media friends and connections. From distributing the funds that provide healthcare services and maintain our infrastructure, monitoring discrimination and enforcing civil rights laws, and informing businesses on where to build new locations, the 2020 Census count will influence life in LA.

We are leading a pilot version of the CGA program in the Summer of 2019 designed to solicit feedback from the community, test its effectiveness, and iterate an improved version for 2020. We are seeking to engage the HTC populations in this program in order to improve their likelihood of response, and thus, the likelihood that they will be represented in the distribution of over $883 billion in federal funds, as well as political reapportionment and redistricting at all levels of government. Communities that are typically HTC include racial and ethnic minorities, renters, immigrants, residents living in poverty, children under 5, seniors, residents experiencing homelessness and English language learners. About 57% of residents in the City of Los Angeles live in hard or very hard-to-count census block groups.

Recruitment for the pilot program will begin in April 2019, and by June 2019 we will begin training and commence early deployment. Our team is working with community partners to identify recruits. We are seeking approximately 80 CGAs over the span of 4 training sessions in HTC communities in South LA, Boyle Heights, Pacoima, and Harbor/Wilmington. In July and August 2019, all CGA participants will be responsible for hosting a minimum of 1 census community event.

The results of the pilot will determine how we proceed with the rest of the program. September and October 2019 will be spent refining the program. From November 2019 through February 2020 we will host trainings and begin deployment. Once the online self-response tool is released by the Census Bureau in late March 2020, we will prioritize using CGAs to staff Census Action Kiosks, provide language assistance on-site, and share social media messaging. The Census Bureau will also provide live response data that we will utilize in real-time to deploy CGAs to areas that have a higher need. The CGA program will remain active until the end of the self-response period in July 2020.

In what stage of innovation is this project?​

Pilot project (testing a new idea on a small scale to prove feasibility)

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.​

We are defining and measuring the success of the overall Census 2020 Initiative by the accuracy of the count of Los Angeles in 2020. The 2020 Census data will be released in March 2021 to the states (for redistricting) and in December 2021 to the public. The State of California is intending to conduct its own California Housing and Population Sample Enumeration to assess the accuracy of the federal count. Community organizations and research institutions will also conduct assessments of the accuracy of the decennial count. We will be able to properly measure the success of our Census 2020 Initiative upon the release and assessment of this data.

For the Census Goodwill Ambassadors program, we are defining success by the program’s ability to recruit enough CGAs to replicate the linguistic, ethnic, cultural, and geographic diversity of Los Angeles and by how well we staff Census Action Kiosks (CAKs) throughout the self-response period. One key metric for how well the CGAs serve the diversity of Los Angeles is by the languages they speak. We hope to have CGAs who can translate into as many languages as possible, prioritizing the languages that will not have full translation support from the Census Bureau. The presence of CGAs at our CAKs will be a central goal of this program. The kiosks will be where CGAs can provide direct assistance to residents who want to respond to the survey. This assistance will be in the form of digital literacy guidance by helping residents navigate the CAK webpage, translation services for informational resources and/or the survey itself, and providing additional information in-language and in-culture.