Skip Header
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Why 2020 Census Partner Propel is Motivated to Promote the Count

Shira Cavanaugh

Partnerships with the U.S. Census Bureau come in all shapes and sizes. This story launches Connecting With Partners, a new series of Q&A profiles of 2020 Census partners.

For an inside look at the growing roster of 2020 Census partners, the census partnerships team asked new partner Propel what’s driving them to support the 2020 Census. Here’s our Q&A with Propel Senior Business Development Manager, Molly McGowan. 

Organization Name: Propel

Headquarters Location: Brooklyn, New York

Organizational Mission: Propel, the company behind Fresh EBT, is a team of technologists, advocates and engineers motivated by the desire to use technology to create social impact at scale.

Census Bureau Partner Since: 2018

Does your organization use Census Bureau data? If so, how?

Yes, we use Census Bureau data to better understand our users and compare to national demographic trends so we can continue to develop useful products for low-income Americans.

— Molly McGowan, Senior Business Development Manager, Propel

Tell us about Fresh EBT.

We built Fresh EBT — a free mobile app — to create a beautiful and easy digital experience for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants, because we believe that low-income Americans deserve world-class attention to design and usability in the products they use.

Before Fresh EBT, SNAP participants spent up to 45 minutes per month calling a 1-800 number to check their balances and review past transactions. Fresh EBT saves them time and provides additional tools to help budget and manage benefits.

Today, people use Fresh EBT for much more than checking their balances. We help people save money with digital grocery coupons (over $10 million in savings in 2018); we help people find jobs (over 60,000 job applications submitted to date); and we help people access local and national social service resources.

What motivated you to collaborate with us?

With more than 2.2 million monthly users and more than 25,000 five-star ratings, Fresh EBT is the most widely trusted digital platform for low-income Americans today. We were motivated to collaborate with the Census Bureau for two primary reasons:

  1. Given our trusted relationship with low-income Americans, we see an opportunity to use the Fresh EBT platform to share information and dispel census myths, ultimately giving underrepresented populations a stronger voice.
  2. Our users download and use Fresh EBT not just to check their balance, but also to find jobs and access other local and national social service resources. For this reason, we are well-suited to advertise census taker jobs across the country, particularly in areas that are traditionally underrepresented.

Does your organization use Census Bureau data? If so, how?

Yes, we use Census Bureau data to better understand our users and compare to national demographic trends so we can continue to develop useful products for low-income Americans.

Why is a complete and accurate 2020 Census important to your organization?

An accurate census is important to us because it is important to our users. All 2.2 million of our users depend on SNAP to eat and feed their families. The majority of them also depend on programs like reduced-price school lunch programs, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, all of which depend on accurate census data to ensure appropriate allocation of federal funds.

What would an accurate census mean to the communities you serve?

Our application, Fresh EBT, is the most widely trusted tool for low-income Americans to improve their financial health and access these important government-provided benefits. An inaccurate census, or a census undercount, would impact the daily lives of our users. It would mean less federal funding for the programs many of them depend on to house, feed and provide for their families — like Medicaid, Section 8 housing assistance, and support for school lunches.

How is Propel preparing for the 2020 Census?

We’re working with the Census Bureau to develop a plan that encourages our users to respond to the 2020 Census and ensures they get the latest information on 2020 Census job opportunities.

Learn about Propel and visit the Census Bureau’s partnership program page.

Shira Cavanaugh is the National Partnership Program's communications manager at the Census Bureau.

What is EBT?

Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) is an electronic system that allows a recipient to authorize transfer of their government benefits from a federal account to a retailer account to pay for products received. EBT is used in many states to issue food stamp, WIC, and other benefits.


Our email newsletter is sent out on the day we publish a story. Get an alert directly in your inbox to read, share and blog about our newest stories.



America Counts tells the stories behind the numbers in a new inviting way. We feature stories on various topics such as families, housing, employment, business, education, the economy, emergency management, health, population, income and poverty.

Contact our Public Information Office for media inquiries or interviews.


This story was filed under:



Back to Header