Census 2020

  • Counting for Dollars 2020: This document from the George Washington University Institute of Public Policy provides a detailed list of the programs which receive funding based on census counts, including how much money comes to Illinois for each program. (See the Illinois report here. Find other state’s reports here.)
  • Census 2020: Illinois has lost a House of Representatives member every year for over 50 years. In 2020, Illinois is slated to lose one or even two more representatives. This article shows why census 2020 is so important for Illinois, The Stakes Couldn’t Be Higher in Illinois
  • Mapping Historically Undercounted Communities: This interactive map allows users to search for and identify census tracts in their area that have been historically undercounted. It’s a project of CUNY Mapping Service at the Center for Urban Research, CUNY Graduate Center. (See Census.gov map here) (See simplified map here.)

Learn how higher education can support a fair and accurate count.

FERPA Guidance from the Department of Education for the 2020 Census

  • Issue: People don’t know why it’s so important
    • Develop educational exercises and resources for use in classes.
    • Inform how the census affects them, their families, and their local communities. (Information here)
  • Issue: Distrust
    • Prepare students as liaisons to their own hard-to-count communities.
    • Help dispel common myths and misconceptions about the Census. (Information here)
  • Issue: Staffing
    • Get career centers equipped to help students access Census jobs or apply yourself to get extra money. (Information here)
  • Issue: People want training
    • Develop resources on how the census works.
    • Learn more about the barriers and concerns people face and how to help people overcome those issues. (Information here)
  • Issue: Off-campus students
    • Develop campus systems and awareness-raising for these groups of students who live at home, who rent, who couch surf, or don’t have a stable home. (Information here)
  • The census takes place starting April 1st, 2020 and is based on the address where someone is living/staying on that specific day.
    • Student highlight: It is NOT based on your “permanent address” or who might claim you as a dependent on their taxes.
    • Students who live on campus in residence halls will have their census information completed for them by their college or university. Everyone else must complete one census form on their own for all the people living at their address.
  • First people will be asked to complete an online Census form. Those who don’t respond will then receive a paper form in the mail. Census enumerators, people from your area who are being employed by the Census, will come to the doors of those who don’t complete the paper form.
  • The United State Census Bureau can be a useful resource for general questions about the census and how it’s going to to work.

Does the risk of not participating outweigh the risk of participating?

There are many factors that may lead to an undercount in the Census:

  • Citizenship status question – The Supreme Court ruled in favor of not adding the citizenship question, and the current administration dropped its’ efforts to add the question. It is still unseen how these events unfolded will affect participation in Latinx communities. Information here
  • Many people face barriers to participation, such as people experiencing homelessness, and those speaking languages that the Census will not be translated into, such as Hmong, Oromo, and Somali. Information here
  • Many communities have uncertainty about whether participating in the Census is worth the potential risks, such as immigrant communities concerned about how the citizenship status question might be used and Native nations with questions of sovereignty and history of forced removal.
  • Off-campus, renters, and highly mobile students are at risk of going uncounted for a range of reasons. Information here

Lots of temporary staff from the most impacted communities are needed!

Are you a trusted messenger? Think about communities you’re connected to; geographic, cultural, religious, campus student groups, or other communities. Are you a trusted messenger in those spaces? If the census matters to you, you may be able to help others in those communities get information about and participate in the upcoming census. On the other hand, there is so much distrust about the census that it can actually be harmful for “outsiders” to enter communities where they do not have a pre-existing trusting relationship to try to help people participate in the census. Self-awareness and reflection are important first steps prior to deciding how to be helpful.

    • Work for the Census. These are part-time jobs that can be done in the evening or weekend and pay well. The Census Bureau particularly needs people with language skills and relationships in their own communities who can help achieve a complete count. Due to the low unemployment rate, the Census is working hard to fill these positions. If part-time work in your own community could be a fit for you, consider applying. More information here
    • Talk to friends, family, and neighbors about the 2020 Census. A lot of people just don’t know the census is coming, and once they understand how important it is to their communities and that others they trust think it matters, they do, too. More information here
    • Commit to Count Table. Set up a table on campus before the census to provide information, have people commit to participate in the Census, and write reminder postcards to have sent to themselves.
    • Help people complete the Census form. If you’re a trusted member of a community, you could be an important helper. Libraries, schools, and other familiar and trusted community centers can be places where neighbors access computers and get help completing the Census form for their household.
    • Join a Complete Count Committee. Across the state, people are coming together to form Complete Count Committees (CCC). You can form a CCC around a physical or interest community, or connect to one that already exists. Learn about CCCs here
    • Contact a Local Library or League of Women Voters. Organizations such as libraries and local LWV chapters are organizing to support complete census counts. Find one near you and reach out to see if you can support their efforts. League of Women Voters information here
    • Contact Illinois Complete Count Commission to learn about how the census will affect Illinois and how you can help get an accurate count. Information here