Lose Yourself…in the Census

If I had to guess, I’d assume that before this moment you probably wouldn’t see an immediate connection between Eminem lyrics from nearly 20 years ago and one of the most important civic initiatives in our country. But the reality is, we only have one shot, one opportunity, every 10 years to shape the future of our communities: the Census. And now, it’s your chance to either capture it or let it slip. 

Every 10 years, the Constitution requires a count of every person living in the U.S. The data that is collected in the Census has critical effects on our communities and determines how $800 billion in Federal funding is distributed. 

But our region is at serious risk of an undercount. The 2020 Census faces unprecedented challenges. It’s the first “high tech” Census. Instead of paper, people must complete it online or by phone. There are fewer resources behind the count, meaning less outreach about the role the Census plays in each community. There is growing, general distrust of government. And just in Philadelphia, there are ~400,000 people who are a part of hard to count communities – including people of color, immigrants, low-income families, and young children. 

What would an undercount mean for our region? It would mean we get less than our fair share of  critical Federal resources and would have long-term effects on policy and political representation. Using Philadelphia as an example, for every person not counted in the 2020 Census, the city will miss out on $2,100 in funding to support infrastructure, housing, health care, education, and more. And in the 10 years until the next Census, that balloons into more than $21,000 in lost funding – just from a single person being missed in the count. Even a 1% undercount would mean a loss of almost $500 million to support safety net and other services. 

And many of those consequences will last a full decade,  until the next Census. If there was an accurate count in 2010, there would have been $550 million more per year for health, education and financial stability programs benefiting children and young people. 

In short: if just a single person in our community isn’t counted, we all lose out. The stakes are simply too high. 

In just a few months, the 2020 Census will be in full swing – and we need to get this right. If we work together to ensure every person in every community is counted, we make sure our communities get the representation and resources we deserve, grow economic opportunities and jobs, support education and other public resources – all vital to the growth of our region. We reduce the barriers that so many in our community face and help more of our neighbors get access to the resources they need to build well-being.  Join the fight for our community in four simple ways: 

  • Take the Be Counted Pledge and commit to being a part of a fair and accurate Census count in 2020. 
  • Share on social. Raise your voice – and awareness for the Census – using  #CountMeIn and #2020Census and why it’s important to be counted. And we even did the hard work and wrote a tweet for you: 
    • The #2020Census is almost here and the stakes have never been higher. Our community can’t risk an undercount – join me in raising your voice and making sure your family and neighbors are counted. #CountMeIn! https://unitedway.co/2TzMhj3
  • Volunteer to support Community Action Days and talk about why the Census is important to the future of our community. 
  • Complete the Census. Leading up to April 1, 2020, you’ll receive a postcard in the mail with a code you can use to complete the Census online or by phone. It shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes to complete the Census. If you don’t complete the Census by April 1, you may receive a paper form or an in-person visit from a Census field worker. 

Don’t let this opportunity slip. Are you in?

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