Press Releases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, November 7, 2019
Kristin Merkel | (310) 663-6428 | [email protected]

CommunityConnect Labs Launches Community Motivator SMS Solution to Encourage 2020 Census Participation with Inaugural Partners in California and Hawaii

REDWOOD CITY, CALIFORNIA - November 7, 2019 — CommunityConnect Labs (CCL), a California-based nonprofit that develops high-quality, affordable mobile text messaging solutions that enable state and local governments and other service providers to reach low-income and other hard-to-engage individuals, successfully launched its Community Motivator solution with partner organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area and Hawaii with the aim of increasing 2020 Census participation. The Community Motivator solution invites residents to create and share custom pledge cards committing to participate in the 2020 Census, and opts them in to receive mobile messaging reminders and follow-up communications as the critical once-a-decade count approaches.

In California and Hawaii, United Way Bay Area and the Hawai’i Community Foundation have begun activating communities using the Community Motivator.

  • United Way Bay Area is using the Community Motivator as part of a Bay Area-wide, opt-in texting campaign to encourage census participation in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Solano Counties. The campaign will be offered in 12 languages starting in mid-November.
  • Hawai'i Community Foundation’s statewide campaign to help get Hawaii residents counted has already introduced the Community Motivator solution in coordination with partners including the Hawaii Executive Conference and the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement.

“Hard-to-count communities need encouragement, reminders and other follow-up communications to motivate participation in the Census,” said CommunityConnect Labs founder and CEO Perla Ni. “This is true in every Census year, and it will be a particular challenge in 2020, as the protracted public legal wrangling over the Administration’s ultimately unsuccessful attempt to add a citizenship question to the once-a-decade count heightened some communities’ wariness about participating in the critical count.”

The Community Motivator solution is designed to address the challenge Ni describes, allowing states, counties and regional entities, including nonprofit community partners, to build opt-in lists and automatically follow up with text reminders and nudges in 2020. The Community Motivator allows organizations focused on Census outreach to scale and amplify their efforts in a meaningful way.

“The Community Motivator is helping us take a scalable approach to reaching the diverse, hard-to-count communities in the Bay Area,” said Stephanie Kim, United Way Bay Area’s Senior Director of Census 2020. “It builds upon the important in-person interactions and allows us to follow-up with coordinated and consistent messages that reach individuals where they are, in the language they prefer, and using a tool they’re familiar with.  We’re hoping to get as many people as possible signed up so that come March 2020, they’ll all receive reminders from Bay Area Counts 2020 to get counted.”

“A lot is at stake for the state of Hawaii and we believe the Community Motivator will help us to reach and engage individuals across our islands including those who live in rural communities, who are often undercounted,” said Robbie Kane, Director of Programs – Omidyar Initiatives at Hawai‘i Community Foundation.The Community Motivator will be a powerful amplification tool for our partner organizations, who are working to help us reach and encourage some of Hawaii’s most hard to count communities.”

Individuals can pledge to be counted via text and in turn receive a personalized digital pledge card. The digital pledge card is customizable by organization and personalizable by the individual respondents taking the pledge. The card can then be shared on social media to encourage friends and family to be counted. Individuals who opt in will then receive nudges and reminders in their selected language in the lead up to the 2020 Census. To demo the Community Motivator experience, text "CENSUS" to 987987.  

Redwood City, California-based CommunityConnect Labs is a leader and innovator in the public interest technology space, founded to address the difficulties local governments and human services providers face connecting with hard-to-reach individuals in their communities. CommunityConnect Labs empowers clients with technology and expertise created through inclusive, human-centered design. CommunityConnect Labs roster of clients has included Los Angeles, Contra Costa, and San Mateo counties.  

CommunityConnect Labs offers a suite of mobile messaging solutions and training resources to help states, counties, cities, and nonprofits prepare for the 2020 count, and to achieve a complete count of hard-to-count communities. The CCL team has developed census solutions in collaboration with the U.S. Census Bureau and has received grant awards to support census solution development from funders including Microsoft, Twllio and Amazon. Local governments, nonprofits and funders will play a critical role in ensuring a fair and accurate count of immigrant and low-income communities in the 2020 Census. CCL has worked in 9 geographies with city and county governments on the Local Update of Census Addresses (LUCA) phase of the Census. CommunityConnect Labs is a member of the  U.S. Census Bureau's Opportunity Project.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, July 17, 2019
(New Media Ventures) Madison Donzis | (210) 488-6220 | [email protected] (CommunityConnect Labs) Perla Ni | (415) 902-2659 | [email protected]
Sam Reeve | (770)880-4580 | [email protected]

CommunityConnect Labs Receives Grant from Progressive Angel Investor for Work to Engage Hard to Count Communities in 2020 Census

New Media Ventures Names CommunityConnect Labs as 2019 Recipient, Seed Fund’s Investments Aim to Drive Innovation, Spark Civic Engagement and Create Societal Change

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA — New Media Ventures, a seed fund and angel network investing in entrepreneurs and activists working at the intersection of progressive politics, movement building, narrative change, and civic engagement, has announced it has invested CommunityConnect Labs’ suite of tools that enable government and service providers to use mobile messaging to connect with hard-to-reach populations around the 2020 Census, naming the organization as one of its 2019 recipients.

CommunityConnect Labs, which was founded by Perla Ni, is the leading provider of mobile messaging tools for local government agencies and service providers to count low-income and hard-to-reach communities in the Census, or to connect them with the services they deserve such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), utilities assistance, and workforce development opportunities.

“The Census is democracy in action - making sure people and communities are counted and given the representation they deserve. That’s why CommunityConnect Lab’s innovative tools are so critical, especially for reaching hard to count communities,” said Julie Menter, Managing Director of New Media Ventures. “New Media Ventures is proud to be able to support CommunityConnect Labs’ work as they expand operations and make sure that all Americans are represented in the 2020 census.”

“CommunityConnect Labs is dedicated to helping government and nonprofit service providers engage low-income, immigrant, and other hard to reach people,” said Perla Ni, Founder and CEO of CommunityConnect Labs. “This support from New Media Ventures will fund development and scaling of our Census Communications Suite of tools designed to coordinate, amplify and track progress of outreach efforts. It will help Hard To Count communities get counted, and get fair representation, funding, and services. By supporting our suite of Census Solutions, NMV is leading the path forward on innovative data and technology to empower local communities.”


New Media Ventures received more than 500 applications from progressive startups seeking funding this year, up 50% from 2018 and a massive increase over the 100 applications received in 2016. Of the 500 applications, New Media Ventures has announced 17 recipients. In total, New Media Ventures will invest $1.5 million in organizations working at the intersection of politics, movement building and civic engagement - their largest round of funding ever. 2019 recipients included Upsolve, the Sunrise Movement, AvalancheStrategies, Prism, Wonder Media Network, New/Mode, Survey 160, CommunityConnectLabs, a collaboration between the Center for Technology and Civic Life, PeoplesHub, Contest Every Race, Gather Voices, the Movement for BlackLives, Pulso, Swing Left / Flippable, and the Luz Collective.

“At New Media Ventures, we see investment as a mechanism for societal change, and work to redirect capital towards entrepreneurs and activists on the front lines to tackle the biggest challenges facing our democracy and society today. We look beyond expected opportunities to find the most innovative and effective approaches to creating lasting societal change. After reviewing hundreds of applications, we can confidently say that we’re seeing groundbreaking innovation across the progressive landscape and are inspired by the leaders stepping up to tackle the biggest issues facing our democracy,” said Julie Menter, Managing Director of NewMedia Ventures.


Led by women, New Media Ventures has mobilized more than $50M in direct funding to more than 70 startups since launching in 2010. Past recipients include Pantsuit Nation, Blavity, SumOfUs, ActBlue Civics, Indivisible, Mijente, MobilizeAmerica, and Upworthy.

New Media Ventures (NMV) invests in entrepreneurs and activists wrestling with the biggest challenges facing our democracy. They have supported more than 70 companies and organizations working to build movements, create new narratives, and spark civic engagement. By changing where capital is invested, NMV works to shift the structures of power to benefit more people.

Perla Ni | (415) 902-2659 | [email protected]  

Local Update of Census Addresses (LUCA) Critical to Prevent Census Undercount

REDWOOD CITY, CALIFORNIA — The clock has started ticking for tribal, state, and local governments to add to the U.S. Census Bureau’s residential address list for the 2020 Census. This Local Update of Census Address (LUCA) process is even more critical in the current political environment, as increased challenges are expected in encouraging participation of immigrant and other hard-to-reach communities. Addresses not included in Census Master Address File are unlikely to be counted, whether through outreach or estimation.

The Census Master Address File is often incomplete because it’s missing unconventional types of housing where low-income people live. “We know that many families are living in garages and back-units because of the extraordinary cost of housing here. And we know that we’re not counting many of those families,” said San Jose mayor Sam Liccardo.

Research shows that as much as one-third of total undercount of low-income minority and immigrant families stems from the place a household lives being left out of the Census Bureau’s Master Address File.

Community-based address canvassing is an effective way to address the issue — pilots in San Jose, San Francisco and Fresno identified and added up to 6% additional households to the Census Bureau address list, according to census researcher Ed Kissam of the WK Fund.

“Using the CommunityConnect Labs’ text-based tool to conduct community-based address canvassing is easy and rapid to implement,” says Jacob Model, VP of Data and Research at CommunityConnect Labs. “Training canvassers takes half a day, or less and canvassers can easily submit automatically geo-coded locations on housing units they identify in a format conforming to Census Bureau specifications.”

However, there is a very short window of opportunity for local government. LUCA submission deadlines for local governments are June or July of 2018.

“Differential undercount of minorities and immigrants keeps local communities from getting their fair share of census-driven federal program funding and securing equitable political representation,” says Perla Ni, CEO of Community-Connect Labs. “Community-Based Address Canvassing is a safe and easy way for local governments to prevent an undercount by submitting a complete LUCA list.”

For more Information on Community-Based Address Canvassing, see our webinar with Institute for Local Government, CommunityConnect Labs, WK Fund and City of San Jose:

CommunityConnect Labs enables nonprofits, governments, agencies, foundations and mission-driven companies to generate fast, affordable, and reliable data from low-income communities through the innovative use of SMS technology. For more information, visit and


3/30/2018 "120 Day Deadline: How Local Governments Can Conduct Community-Based Address Canvassing to Ensure Low-Income People Are Counted"