Philly Counts Closes Out a Successful 2019 Leading the Way in Census Efforts
As the 2020 Census approaches, the City’s initiative created to ensure a complete and accurate census count in Philadelphia celebrates a successful year of census action.


PHILADELPHIA — In preparation for the 2020 Census, Philly Counts has spent 2019 working alongside community partners and volunteers to raise awareness about the importance of the census and how it will impact the city for the next 10 years.

The work of Philly Counts started early, more than a year ahead of Census Day 2020. Philly Counts’ office was created via an executive order signed by Mayor Kenney in January 2019. The Complete Count Committee (CCC), which is composed of 19 working subcommittees, has guided Philly Counts’ efforts to ensure a complete and accurate count in the 2020 Census. The CCC and its subcommittees are focused on historically undercounted populations, including LGBTQ+ individuals, children and youth, and immigrant communities.

“The upcoming census is important for the future of our city—it is essential to the distribution of political representation and the equitable distribution of resources,” said Mayor Kenney. “It is critical that all Philadelphia residents understand why the census matters in their lives. The subcommittees have assisted Philly Counts’ efforts by providing recommendations for how to engage and provide support for their constituents.”


Census Champion Training Program 

On Constitution Day, September 17, Philly Counts launched its Census Champion Training Program. Since September, over 3,000 people have been trained with the tools and information needed to talk about the census in their community accurately, dispel myths, and promote participation among neighbors, friends, and family. The training sessions have been completed in English, Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Korean, Arabic, and American Sign Language (ASL).

“We were happy to see an overwhelming response to the Census Champion Training Program from our community-based organizations and residents. The goal of the Census Champion training is to ensure local folks—trusted messengers and leaders such as teachers, block captains, and ministers—are properly trained to have complex conversations about how the census will work and why it matters for Philadelphians. The results have been fantastic and prove that if you give people the tools and resources, they are eager to help solve our most complex challenges,” said Stephanie Reid, Executive Director of Philly Counts 2020. 

Philly Counts will host Census Champion training sessions until March 2020. Members of the public can choose the training that works best for them based on location, time and language, using the list of events available on


Action Leaders Summit

Philly Counts is in the midst of completing the capacity-building stage of its action plan, with a focus on coordinating outreach and educating the public about the census through a neighbor-to-neighbor approach. Census Champions and Action Leaders are part of these efforts.

On November 9, Philly Counts hosted the Action Leaders Summit with 300 people in attendance. The free full-day summit was targeted towards Census Champions, community leaders, organizers, and the general public as the next level of engagement with Philadelphia’s census efforts. The Action Leaders Summit featured discussions about historically undercounted communities, a Q&A period with the U.S. Census Bureau, details on Philly Counts’ data-informed engagement strategy, and a planning session in breakout groups by neighborhood, to provide a full organizing experience to all attendees.


Regional Meetings

The next stage of Philly Counts’ strategy is organizing volunteers and community-based organizations based on geography. “The goal is to meet people where they are and to engage with them in a way that is authentic and meaningful,” said Morris Hobson, Coalition Manager for Philly Counts 2020. At the monthly regional meetings, Philly Counts brings neighbors together to discuss census priorities and challenges in their area and plan for action ahead of the census in April.

“These meetings have gathered community organizations and leaders to strategically plan census engagement activities at the neighborhood level to ensure a complete and accurate count in 2020. Regional teams have organized and confirmed census job recruiting sessions and Census Champion training sessions along with other events aimed at engaging our historically undercounted populations across the city,” Hobson added.


Philly Counts 2020 Action Fund

The Philly Counts 2020 Action Fund was launched in August to provide financial support to local organizations that are taking action to engage their constituents about the upcoming census. “We are so grateful to our corporate and philanthropic partners in Philadelphia for stepping up to support the Philly Counts 2020 Action Fund. Through the fund, we are able to support trusted community-based organizations in our hardest to count communities to promote a complete and accurate count,” said Olivia Baackes, Director of Corporate and Philanthropic Engagement at Philly Counts 2020.

This fall, United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey (UWGPSJ) announced it would match donations made to the Action Fund—up to $400,000. The Philly Counts 2020 Action Fund closes the year with $487,000 raised from 13 donors and has distributed more than $424,000 to 47 community-based organizations serving historically undercounted communities across the city. Grant proposals are being accepted through Spring 2020.

In the New Year, Philly Counts has no plans of slowing down on these efforts. With over 1.5 million people living in Philadelphia, there are many more individuals and communities to engage before the census begins. To ensure a complete and accurate 2020 Census, Philly Counts will continue to host regional meetings, Census Champion Trainings, and other events to bring Philadelphians together around this critical issue.


About Philly Counts

Philly Counts 2020 is the City’s effort to support the next United States census. By working closely with community members and partners, this program aims to: increase understanding about the importance of the census, educate the public on how to participate, ensure responses from the public for a fair and accurate count, and support filling census jobs. More information is available at