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April 1, 2020
Census Day is April 1st and YouthAction NYC is doing everything they can to get out the count in New York! The US Census Bureau has mailed all households instructions for completing the 2020 Census and our youth advocates are calling on friends and neighbors to get counted!Their virtual Census outreach campaign, Get Counted #YouthActionDay2020, is a way for young people and their allies to raise awareness about the importance of the Census from the comfort and safety of their own homes. YouthAction members created a Get Counted Toolkit that outlines step-by-step instructions on how to take action on social media, via e-mail, and over the phone with texts, calls and video chats.
They will also host a Get Counted Youth Social Media Takeover on Census Day, leveraging CCC’s platforms and their own to share the toolkit with a broader audience. YouthAction Members hope that New Yorkers will use and share the Get Counted Toolkit throughout April and beyond, until every one of us gets counted!
Download the Get Counted Toolkit here.
To learn more about the Census and the Get Counted campaign, watch our video blog below:
Aisatou: Hello, CCC Community! As the nation struggles with the coronavirus pandemic, we are meeting virtually to talk about something very important: The 2020 Census! My name is Aisatou Bah, and I am a senior at Hunter College interning with CCC. I’m here with some of CCC’s YouthAction Members, who have been doing great work to raise awareness about the 2020 Census. Can you all introduce yourselves?
Tuli: Thanks so much, Aisatou! We’re excited to help spread the word about the importance of the 2020 Census. My name is Tuli Hannan. I live in Queens and am a junior at Information technology high school!
Idalia: My name is Idalia Tlatelpa. I live in Brooklyn and I am a junior at Cyberarts Studio Academy!
Edward: Hello, everyone. My name is Edward Sanchez. I live in Brooklyn and I am a junior at Fort Hamilton High School!
Aisatou: So, today is April 1st, which is Census Day. What is so special about April 1st and the Census?
Edward: The Decennial Census is a count of every person living in the United States. The US Constitution requires that we do this every 10 years. April 1st is the point in time where you look around your household, and whoever is living or sleeping there most of the time, is who gets included on your household’s census form.
Idalia: The Census also helps determine representation in Congress and how funding is allocated for important programs and services used in our communities.
Aisatou: So, who does and does not get counted in the Census?
Tuli: Everyone living in the United States and its five territories are Counted in the Census. Immigrants are counted, whether they are documented or not. Newborn babies are counted. We also count the homeless in the Census.
Edward: There are some communities that were undercounted in 2010, and we are afraid that there will be an undercount again. These days, a lot of people don’t want to give their information to the government.
Idalia: Not just that, kids are undercounted more than any other group! A lot of times, adults don’t realize that babies and small children count! In 2010, over 1 million children under 5 were missed.
Tuli: Yeah, and to be honest, a lot people just don’t know about the Census. That is why we are trying to raise awareness.
Aisatou: Why is important that everyone is counted in the Census?
Idalia: When kids aren’t counted, communities don’t get their fair share of federal dollars for Head Start, school lunches, public health insurance, housing, child care and a bunch of other programs and services that help young children in low-income families get a healthy start in life.
Tuli: The results of the Census will determine how $675 Billion dollars are spent annually in the US.
Edward: And also, the Census determines how many representatives states get in Congress. New York could lose 2 seats this time around if we are undercounted!
Aisatou: Is the form complicated? How do I fill it out?
Tuli: The Census is 10 questions, takes 10 minutes to complete, and impacts a child’s life for the next 10 years! Think about it, we don’t get another chance to do this until 2030. If we are undercounted, that is ten years of not having enough funding for the programs and services we all rely on.
Aisatou: Is it safe to fill out the Census?
Idalia: The Census Bureau will never ask you for your social security number or immigration status! It won’t ask about your employment or income.
Edward: By law, census responses can’t be used against you by any government agency or court in ANY way. Census workers can’t share your information with law enforcement agencies or even your landlord. Any attempt to violate this law comes with harsh penalties.
Aisatou: When I think about the Census, I think about Census workers knocking on doors with a clipboard. What can people do if they don’t want a census worker to knock on their door?
Tuli: Honestly, the easiest way to prevent a Census worker from knocking on your door is to complete the 2020 Census RIGHT NOW. Every household has received several mailings by now with instructions for how to complete the Census online or over the phone. Or they can just go to my2020census.gov and get started.
Edward: If people want to fill it out on paper, they can wait until mid-to-late April. Anyone who hasn’t filled out the form online or by phone by then will receive a paper version in the mail.
Idalia: It’s also important to say that the Census is available in 12 non-English languages, and there are language guides for 59 other languages.
Aisatou: Wow that is all such great information. I really hope everyone listening to you all takes it seriously and fills out the Census TODAY! Now, I want to ask some questions about how the Census impacts you personally. How will a fair and accurate census count impact your community ?
Tuli: To be completely honest with you, I was never aware that the census existed. I’ve learned about it and it’s purpose through CCC. Once CCC educated me on how impactful the census is, it was definitely an eye opener. I always noticed the lack of resources and funding my community suffered from; but it was something that was normalized for me and other constituents in Sunnyside, Queens. Now knowing that there is a way to prevent anyone from falling through the cracks in our society, I am definitely going to take advantage of it! And others should too.
Idalia: I live in a neighborhood where there are lots of resources. We also had a high self response rate in the 2010 Census. I think what happens with undercounts in some communities is that it just makes the lack of access to programs and services even worse.
Edward: For me, I didn’t really know the extent to which much the census would affect me and the community. Once I began to engage, my eyes opened to all the different ways the census would impact my community such as parks and recreation centers, mass transportation that are things that impacts my life daily.
Aisatou: Can you describe a struggle you have faced in your community due to the under-funding that may be a result of an inaccurate Census count in 2010?
Tuli: For me personally, I have severe health and mental health issues and I need access to dedicated services and organizations in my community considering I can’t afford private care. Thankfully, I was given the opportunity to have my healthcare needs met in my own community; but it has been a struggle to find what is best for me. Throughout my community and queens in general, I noticed the lack of resources, psychologists and psychiatrists being accessible to the youth throughout the years of my family and I searching for proper mental health needs. WIth that in mind, I can’t help but wonder if what we had endured was because of our communities being undercounted for in 2010?
Edward: One thing that I and my classmates struggled with would be my school’s unfinished sports field in which if there were more funding, we could have finished building the field and have the basketball and tennis courts finished. This would improve the quality of our physical education.
Aisatou: Tell us about Get Counted #YouthActionDay 2020, which is happening today. Why is it important to you to be a part of this campaign to raise awareness about the Census?
Edward: Well, we know that because of the Coronavirus, most people are stuck at home. A lot of organizations, including libraries and health centers, were planning to raise awareness about the census by holding events and setting up computers where people could complete the Census online. But none of that is happening anymore. Everything is shut down.
Idalia: So our group, YouthAction NYC, decided to create a toolkit that people could use to raise awareness about the Census right from the comfort and safety of their own home! We sent it out out to our friends and partners earlier in the week so that they could join us in a coordinated effort today, April 1st, since it’s Census Day.
Tuli: The toolkit has 3 parts. First there are instructions for how to raise awareness through social media. We included sample posts and images for Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. The second part is e-mail. We included a sample e-mail that people could send to friends and neighbors. And finally, we made our own version of text and phone banking, where people are instructed to text or call the people in their lives. For this we also included sample texts and a call script!
Edward: Actually, anyone can use the toolkit any time for as long as the Census is happening! The timeline has changed a bit since the public health crisis, but people can keep responding through most of the summer.
Aistatou: Well, thank you so much for all of this great information! I wish you luck with Get Counted YouthAction Day! Now…if you’ll excuse me…I have to go fill out my Census!!