The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights  & The Leadership Conference Education Fund
The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

Funding of Federal, State, And Local Programs

The decennial census determines the allocation of close to $400 billion annually for planning and implementation of federal programs and services such as school construction, housing and community development, road and transportation planning, and job training. The people served by many of these programs include those in hard-to-count communities who are at greater risk of being missed in the census, thereby skewing projections of needed resources and, potentially, appropriations based on projected need. Examples of these programs include (dollar amounts reflect FY2007 allocations):

  • Food stamps – $30.4 billion
  • Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers – $16.1 billion
  • National School Lunch Program – $8.6 billion
  • Head Start – $6.2 billion
  • State Children’s Insurance Program – $5.5 billion
  • Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program – $5.3 billion
  • Foster care (Title IVE) – $4.5 billion
  • Child Care Mandatory & Matching Funds – $2.9 billion
  • School Breakfast Program – $2.1 billion

Additional programs and specific populations served by these programs are highlighted below.


Decennial census data provide the basis for local, state, and federal policy makers to make critical decisions affecting workers and their families. In particular, census information is used for the following:

  • Identifying local areas eligible for grants to implement job training and other employment programs under the Job Training Partnership Act;
  • Pinpointing state and local areas with a labor force surplus for programs that promote business opportunities under the Labor Surplus Areas Program;
  • Monitoring and enforcing employment discrimination laws under the Civil Rights Act; and
  • Planning job training programs for seniors under the Older Americans Act.

Census information is also used to distribute approximately $12 billion in funds for the following federal programs that are beneficial to workers and their families:

  • Unemployment insurance;
  • The Workplace Investment Act provides funding to help adults, dislocated workers, and youth find employment that leads to self-sufficiency through various services available at local support centers;
  • The Employment Service focuses on providing a variety of employment related labor exchange services, including, but not limited to, job search assistance, job referral, and placement assistance for job seekers, re-employment services to unemployment insurance claimants, and recruitment services to employers with job openings;
  • The Senior Community Service Employment Program;
  • Native American Employment and Training;
  • Prisoner Reentry programs seek to reduce recidivism by helping former inmates find work when they return to their communities largely through faith-based and community organizations; and
  • Work Opportunity Tax Credit Program (WOTC) and Welfare-to-Work Tax Credit (WtWTC).

Local governments in particular require data at the neighborhood level for school planning, transportation, and economic development. They use census data to:

  • Fund child care to enable low-income and working families to work, train for a job, or obtain an education;
  • Fund health care for infants and children;
  • Fund policing agencies and community-based entities to work together to reduce crime;
  • Fund local agencies for food, health care, and legal services for senior citizens and individuals with disabilities;
  • Develop and strengthen the criminal justice system's response to violence against women; and
  • Determine the number of people eligible for Social Security and Medicare benefits.


The accuracy of the 2010 census has significant implications for the education of the nation's schoolchildren. The ACS provides the U.S. Department of Education with the most comprehensive data on school enrollment and educational attainment. Census population figures are used to draw school district boundaries and determine funding allocations for many education programs. Data from the census provide federal, state, and district governments with benchmarks for evaluating the need for and effectiveness of policies that affect the well-being of children, for determining program eligibility, and for applying financial aid allocation formulas. Census information is needed for the following:

  • Safe and Drug Free Schools and Communities State Grants that provide support to state education agencies for a variety of drug and violence prevention activities focused primarily on school-age youth;
  • Special Education Preschool Grants for children ages 3 through 5. Funds under this program are also used to cover the costs of related services including the salaries of special education teachers, speech therapists, and psychologists;
  • Reforming elementary and secondary school programs that serve Native American students under the Indian Education Grants to Local Educational Agencies program; and
  • Title I Program for Neglected and Delinquent Children that provides grants to states to help provide education continuity for youth in correctional facilities so they can make successful transitions to school or employment once they are released from state institutions.

Additionally, the census and ACS provide comprehensive demographic data that support the informed development of education policy. Data on school enrollment (including whether individuals attend public or private schools) and educational attainment can be cross-tabulated with information on the nation’s student population and the households in which they live (including location, age, sex, income, family structure, labor force status, and disabilities) to help educational policymakers address specific needs and challenges students might face in their communities.

Census data are also used for a number of critical education functions, including drawing school district boundaries, providing direct aid to schools that serve children with limited English proficiency, determining illiteracy levels among language minorities, profiling the socio-economic conditions of school-age children, and measuring changes in education levels across communities so employers can determine where to locate new jobs. Furthermore, census data are used to help allocate approximately $26 billion annually in education funding (FY 2007):

  • The census is used to disperse Title I grants for state educational agencies to improve the education of economically disadvantaged children and to distribute funding for the Rehabilitation Services-Vocational Rehabilitation State Grants program and the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities program;
  • Other U.S. Department of Education programs that use the data in their allocation formulas and eligibility determinations include: Special Education - Grants for Infants and Families with Disabilities; Improving Teacher Quality Grants; Education Technology Grants; Rural Education; Even Start State Educational Agencies; and Comprehensive School Reform Demonstration.

There is no comparable comprehensive source of information about the population to support U.S. Department of Education initiatives.

People of Color

The decennial census collects data on Hispanic origin and race in order to comply with nondiscrimination legislation, address racial disparities, and provide statistics to federal agencies. In particular census data are used for the following:

  • Ensuring enforcement of language assistance rules and creating legislative districts under the Voting Rights Act;
  • Identifying population segments that need medical services under the Public Health Service Act;
  • Monitoring and enforcing equal employment opportunities under the Civil Rights Act; and
  • Funding programs at historically black colleges and universities to foster equal opportunity through post-secondary education for African Americans.


The ACS collects information on place of birth, citizenship, year of entry, and language spoken at home in order to better serve the needs of immigrants and refugees. Knowing the characteristics of immigrants helps policy makers understand how different immigrant groups are assimilated. The data also help fund programs specifically geared towards those who have difficulty with English. Decennial census data are used to:

  • Allocate funds to public and private nonprofit organizations to provide employment resources aimed at making the foreign-born economically self-sufficient;
  • Assist states and local agencies with developing health care and other services tailored to the language and cultural diversity of immigrants;
  • Evaluate voting practices of government subdivisions, such as states, counties, and school districts, under the Voting Rights Act;
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of equal opportunity employment programs and policies under the Civil Rights Act;
  • Allocate grants to school districts for children with limited English language proficiency; and
  • Develop health care and other services tailored to the language and cultural diversity of the elderly under the Older Americans Act.

People with disabilities

Census data directly affect funding for many programs critical to individuals with disabilities including programs for education, health care, transportation, employment training, and housing. The federal government uses census information to guide the annual distribution of approximately $15 billion in services to people with disabilities (FY 2007). For example, the information is used to:

  • Help state and county agencies plan for eligible recipients under the Medicare, Medicaid, and Supplemental Security Income programs;
  • Distribute funds and develop programs for people with disabilities and the elderly under the Rehabilitation Act;
  • Distribute funds for housing for people with disabilities under the Housing and Urban Development Act;
  • Allocate funds to states and local areas for employment and job training programs for veterans under the Job Training Partnership Act, Disabled Veterans Outreach Program;
  • Ensure that comparable public transportation services are available for all segments of the population under the Americans with Disabilities Act;
  • Award federal grants, under the Older Americans Act, based on the number of elderly people with physical and mental disabilities;
  • Allocate funds for mass transit systems to provide facilities for people with disabilities under the Federal Transit Act;
  • Provide housing assistance and supportive services for low-income individuals with HIV/AIDS and their families under the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program; and
  • Make available special education for children ages 3 through 5 through Special Education Preschool Grants.

Senior Citizens

Census data on age help policy makers target funds and services to senior citizens. The following provide examples of how policy makers use census data to develop programs and allocate approximately $200 billion in federal funds:

  • State and county agencies use the data to forecast the number of people eligible for Social Security and Medicare;
  • Planners use it to determine the number and location of hospitals, health service centers, and retirement homes;
  • The Nutrition Education Program uses the data to help elderly persons obtain nutritionally sound meals through senior citizen distribution centers or via meals-on-wheels programs;
  • Funds are distributed through programs developed for people with disabilities and the elderly under the Rehabilitation Act;
  • Equal employment opportunity is enforced under the Age Discrimination and Employment Act;
  • Planners use it to ensure that comparable public transportation services are available for all segments of the population;
  • Federal agencies require these data to award federal grants, under the Older Americans Act, based on the number of elderly people with physical and mental disabilities;
  • Under the Very Low-Income Housing Repair Loans and Grants program, the data enable older people who cannot afford to repay a loan to remove health and safety hazards in their homes;
  • The Senior Community Service Employment program, funded under Title V of the Older Americans Act, helps economically disadvantaged individuals aged fifty-five and older with poor employment prospects gain financial independence through employment training, referrals, and counseling;
  • The Prevention of Elderly Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation program coordinates state and local adult protective efforts with other state and local service programs that focus on elderly abuse prevention and intervention;
  • The Long Term Care Ombudsman Services for Older Americans program allows state and local long term care ombudsmen to speak and act on behalf of the residents of nursing homes by investigating nursing facility complaints and providing community support to those who often cannot speak or act on their own behalf;
  • The Indian Program Grants to Indian Tribes and Grants to Native Hawaiians help provide meals, health care, and transportation to elderly Native Americans and Native Hawaiians who are disproportionately poorer than the older population in general; and
  • The Supportive Housing for the Elderly Program, administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, supports the creation of housing facilities specifically for older persons.

Rural Areas

Census information is used to plan tunnels, bridges, and roads. The data help federal and local emergency management agencies assess the damage from tornadoes, floods, and droughts and plan recovery assistance. Census data also help local governments and businesses plan future economic development by forecasting future demand for goods and services. The federal government allocates approximately $15 billion in funds to assist rural areas. Specific programs critical to rural communities that rely on census data include:

  • The Food Donation Program, which provides food to individuals, families, and institutions;
  • Intermediary Relending Programs, which finance business facilities and community development projects in rural areas. Loans are made by the Rural Business Cooperative Service (RBS) to intermediaries to establish revolving loan funds for rural recipients;
  • Business and Industrial Loans, which improve, develop, or finance businesses and industries, creating jobs and improving the economic and environmental climate in rural communities (including pollution abatement);
  • The Emergency Community Water Assistance program, which assists rural communities that have had a significant decline in the quantity or quality of drinking water in repairing and replacing rural water treatment facilities;
  • The Rural Domestic Violence and Child Victimization Enforcement Grant Program, which improves and increases services available to women and children in rural areas by encouraging community involvement in preventing domestic violence and child abuse. Funding helps increase victims' access to treatment and counseling and further strengthens the investigation and prosecution of domestic violence and child abuse cases;
  • Rural Development Loans and Loan Guarantees, which provide zero interest loans and grants for telephone and electric utilities to promote rural economic development and job creation;
  • Rural Cooperative Development Grants, which improve the economic condition of rural areas through the development of new cooperatives and the improvement of existing cooperatives;
  • The Very Low to Moderate Income Housing Loans program, which allows low-income and moderate-income rural residents to purchase, construct, repair, or relocate a dwelling and related facilities;
  • Assistance to rural renters through the Rural Rental Housing Loans Program and Rural Rental Assistance, which provide subsidies to very low-income individuals or direct mortgage loans to very low-, low-, and moderate-income families; the elderly; and persons with disabilities;
  • Formula Grants for Other than Urbanized Areas, which funds operating and administrative assistance for transportation in rural areas;
  • Rural Education; and
  • Various programs to provide quality, accessible health care through the State Rural Hospital Flexibility Program, Rural Health Care Services Outreach and Rural Health Network Development Program, Small Rural Hospital Improvement Grant Program, Grants to States for Operation of Offices of Rural Health, and Development and Coordination of Rural Health Services program.


Businesses of all sizes and types rely on census data to reach decisions that allow them to operate more efficiently. The business community utilizes census data for marketing, hiring, and selecting site locations, as well as forecasting future demand for goods and services. In short, census data help businesses to make more knowledgeable decisions about the people they serve and thereby enhance overall economic performance and improve the standard of living in communities. Census data help businesses in the following ways:

  • Site selection: Census data assist businesses in choosing where to locate new stores, banks, restaurants, and other retail or service enterprises. Bank lenders and insurance companies use census data to evaluate financial risks and investment planning. Builders and contractors are particularly interested in housing-related census data in order to select sites for new housing construction as well as rehabilitation projects.
  • Understanding the local labor supply: A major concern to the business community is having an adequate supply of skilled workers. Census data provide this needed information so that businesses are able to determine whether a geographic area has the labor force skills necessary for a specific industry. Census data also are critical in helping administrators, personnel managers, and employees determine whether a firm is complying with federal regulations that promote fair employment practices.
  • Understanding consumer needs: Businesses use census data to help them meet specific needs of the populations they are serving in each area. For example, in areas where large numbers of people primarily speak a language other than English at home, businesses can offer bilingual information about their services. In communities with high percentages of senior citizens, businesses can tailor their facilities and train their staff to assist people who may have more trouble hearing or getting around on their own.

Community-Based and Social Service Organizations

Community-based and social service organizations rely on census data to reach decisions that allow them to operate more efficiently. Census data guide local decision-makers in important community planning efforts, including where to build child-care and community centers. Community planners and governments rely on census data to determine where there is the most need for additional social services and who gets needed funding, such as community development block grants. Census data can help organizations estimate the number of potential volunteers in communities and the number of residents who may need services and can help them write better proposals for grants. For example, service organizations, such as Big Brothers of America, use data on the characteristics of young men such as age, education, occupation, and income to estimate the number of potential volunteers in metropolitan areas. In short, census data help community-based and social service organizations make more knowledgeable decisions about the people they serve and thereby enhance overall performance.