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Monday, July 09, 2018

Everyone Counts: New MNN Report on the Critical 2020 Census

Everyone Counts: New MNN Report on the Critical 2020 Census
$16 billion in federal funding Massachusetts, over $600 billion nationwide at risk of an inaccurate Census count in 2020

BOSTON - Today the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network (MNN) released its latest edition of Commonwealth Insights, “Everyone Counts: The Importance of the 2020 Census to Massachusetts Nonprofits.”

The report, featuring interviews from four experts in their fields, examines the unprecedented challenges presented by the upcoming Census, what is at stake for Massachusetts, and the role that nonprofits can play to ensure a fair and accurate Census count.

Census data drives the distribution of over $16 billion annually in federal funding to important programs across Massachusetts that nonprofits care about,” said Jim Klocke, CEO of MNN.

The report focuses in particular on the all-digital nature of the upcoming Census, "hard-to-count" communities in Massachusetts, and ongoing funding challenges, all of which could seriously hamper the collection of accurate data.

The experts define “hard-to-count” communities as those without reliable access to the Internet, those with immigrants and limited English proficient residents, those with large numbers of young children, and other low-income communities that face significant barriers to participating in the Census.

“An accurate Census count will support one of our key messages, that investing in immigrants is essential,” says Brooke Mead, Executive Director of the Berkshire Immigrant Center, in the report. “If we can’t prove there are enough immigrants in the Berkshires (even though I know there are), it would be harder to make that argument, and could mean less assistance.”

The report highlights actions that Massachusetts nonprofits can take now to engage in the 2020 Census, including adding Census education and outreach to their public education and communications plans, advocating for full funding to the Census, opposing the inclusion of a citizenship question, and joining efforts such as Complete Count Committees that are already working on Census outreach strategy.

“We need to communicate about the Census early and often, and have as many nonprofits as possible build it into their communications” says Avi Green, Executive Director of the Scholars Strategy Network.

Although the 2020 Census has a unique set of challenges, the experts assert that nonprofits are uniquely poised to be crucial partners in collaborations and cross-sector partnerships directed at ensuring that all individuals and communities are counted.

“Nonprofits are on the front lines, in a position to help encourage their clients to participate in the Census and to understand how their involvement benefits their communities,” says Mary Jo Hoeksema, Co-Director of The Census Project.

Ultimately, the negative ramifications of an inaccurate census count will affect an ecosystem that exists on a scale beyond the day-to-day operations of individual nonprofits. David Moy, Senior Program Officer at the Hyams Foundation, says, “The reality of it is that if you care about education, infrastructure, elderly or disability services - they all rely on getting an accurate count.”