Giving Compass' Take:

• Gregg Behr, writing for Southern California Grantmakers, discusses the critical reasons why an accurate count in the 2020 Census is essential for the future of educators, students, and entire communities. 

• How can donors communicate the importance of the 2020 Census out to their networks? What is already happening to ensure an accurate count?

• Here are the consequences of undercounting kids in the 2020 Census. 

Consider the census—perhaps the most reliable and least exciting of all civic events. In the United States, we've been counting our population every 10 years since 1790. In 2020, we'll do it again. Most of us know the principal function of the census: It tells us who lives where and apportions U.S. House seats.

The census directs hundreds of billions of federal dollars to hospitals, infrastructure projects, and education each year, exerting unparalleled influence on students, educators, and schools.

It affects students and educators in other ways, too—ways sometimes less direct but never less important. A community's share of Section 8 housing vouchers, heating assistance funding, and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits, for example, all depend on census data.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, whose department oversees the Census Bureau, says the bureau faces an "urgent" shortfall of more than $3 billion. Meanwhile, a hostile political environment threatens to curb participation and undercount whole communities.

Early focus groups conducted by the bureau have revealed deep-seated fears about how the 2020 census will be used.

The U.S. Justice Department's proposal to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census only compounds the problem. First reported in December, the proposal was swiftly condemned by lawmakers, census-watchers, and editorial boards around the country as an attempt to undermine the census.

Read the full article on the U.S. census by Gregg Behr at Southern California Grantmakers