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Countdown to our Future: Census 2020

Caitlin Furey Mayo

“The 2020 Census is here, and it is up to us to get counted and ensure that all of us, our families and our communities, are part of American’s narrative for the next decade.” – Stacey Abrams, Founder, Fair Count  

As the 2020 Census approaches its latest deadline of October 15, the Greater Washington region is inching closer to achieving a complete count, thanks to the work of community partners: Ayuda, Identity, Inc., Latin American Youth Center, Liberty’s Promise, and Mary’s Center.  These five organizations were part of the Crimsonbridge Foundation’s Bridges for Census 2020 program, which awarded $60,000 in grants to expand multilingual outreach work in engaging populations that have been historically undercounted in the census.

Developed by program officer, Caitlin Mayo, the Bridges for Census 2020 program is an outgrowth of the foundation’s Bridges and Bridges for Schools communications capacity building programs. Through these programs the Crimsonbridge Foundation has partnered with nonprofits, hospitals, and schools to leverage multilingual communications to connect families with resources that will support their success and full community participation. For Bridges for Census 2020, Mayo sought out nonprofit partners within the Crimsonbridge network who were not only committed to supporting a complete count effort that included the clients, families, and communities they work with every day, but had a history of successful outreach strategies, established relationships, and expertise in working with multilingual immigrant communities.  The work has been ongoing throughout 2019 and 2020. All of the organizations have adapted in response to COVID-19 in order to continue census outreach while keeping their staff and communities safe.  During the 2020 Census, multilingual outreach has proven to be a key strategy to ensure that all people receive the information and resources needed to get counted.  Innovative strategies have included lifting youth voices through educational podcasts, setting up census “pop up tents” in outdoor spaces to provide guidance while complying with social distancing measures, and creating multilingual video tutorials to distribute widely on social media and directly with clients. 

 All over the country, nonprofit organizations have worked tirelessly to get a fair and accurate count, which can only be achieved if the census data includes populations that have been historically undercounted.  Though the Census Bureau uses the term “Hard to Count” to refer to these populations, which include immigrants, people of color, and young children, the reality is that although the census is meant to count every person living in the United States, the systems in place to do so are inadequate, which in the past has left certain populations and communities uncounted.  This is where nonprofits step in to play a crucial role in obtaining a fair and accurate count.  

“We know that the census informs how government, businesses, researchers, and communities make significant decisions, including allocating political representation, opening or closing businesses, providing social services, and allocating funding for schools, healthcare facilities, and basic infrastructure.” said Mayo. “For our region to thrive, we need this information to be accurate and inclusive.”

 The census matters.  It is a source of power in the sense that information gleaned from the census can be used to build a more inclusive and equitable Greater Washington region.  The census will impact our region’s recovery from COVID-19.  During these last two days, get out the message – we all count

To see the response rate in your community, visit the Census 2020 Hard to Count/Response Rate Map!

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