The decennial census count is one of the most critical periods for communities to secure essential federal funding for the coming decade. Funding seeded from the Census goes to support programs like Head Start, Medicare and Medicaid, SNAP as well as grants for non-profits operating in local communities. Census funding, which is estimated by the Census to be about $4,300 per person counted, helps improve the capacity for these programs to issue needed services to the entire population that depends on them.
On June 6th, United Way of the National Capital Area along with the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers and Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments kicked off local Census planning for 2020 with the Regional 2020 Census Forum. Attendees, mostly a mix of nonprofits, foundations, and local government, were led through strategic conversations surrounding some the challenges presented for 2020 as well as tactics for reaching chronically undercounted communities.
“As a convener, we literally want to bring together all the facets of the community,” shares Rosie Allen-Herring, President and CEO of United Way of the National Capital Area. ”Being counted is simply saying that we matter; every person in this country matters.”
Historically, the Census has been a critical tool in measuring how demographics grow, shift and change throughout the decade in a community. The decennial count ensures that a community’s needs are accurately represented as the appropriated funds are intended to last a decade. All that being said, Census presents a unique opportunity for communities in need to flourish by accessing vital federal funding.
“What can we do to ensure that we’re helping everyone achieve what they need to achieve,” exclaims Allen-Herring, “and to be here and do what they can do for the community at large.”
The benefits of a full count in the region are clear. With accurate numbers, the Census would provide greater capacity to improve infrastructure and roadways, bring extracurricular and enriched education opportunities to schools, and optimize health and nutrition care through Medicare, Medicaid and SNAP. Districts would accurately be able to apportion representatives for federal, state and local governments. Businesses would have key insights as to which communities could profit from their services as well have access to information into where to invest in growth. All of this data is critical in creating robust, sustainable communities for the next decade to come.
United Way NCA has a vested interest in securing accurate counts for all communities in our region.