The once-a-decade population count called the Census determines a lot. The number of residents counted in each state determines federal funding for social programs and the number of seats each state occupies in the U.S. House of Representatives, not to mention public infrastructure projects like highways and school and the amount of business investment in our communities.
Consider this- for every 100 people not counted a community risks looking $1.2 million in federal funding over the course of the next ten years. This funding supports important programs including medicaid, transit, public housing, head start, education, social services and many others.
The Detroit News also reported that for each person not counted in Michigan, the state will lose $10,000 to other states over the course of 10 years.
Getting an accurate population count is crucial, but its also a tremendous challenge. The lack of funding to effectively carry out the count and immigrant populations fear of government are just two of the massive challenges we are facing.
The U.S. Census Bureau recently kicked off its communications campaign to reach every resident in America with the launch of its 2010 Census Web Site, 2010CENSUS.GOV. It provides tools and information aimed at easing fears about the census and encourages participation in the count. It also points out the most important thing to remember about the 2010 census “we can’t move forward until you mail it back“. Census forms will be arriving in your mailbox in March- 10 questions, 10 minutes, take the time to fill it out! (And, if you would like to get a look at the census form before it arrives you can click here) You can also follow the U.S. Census on Twitter, watch Census videos on YouTube and read their blog.
Nonprofit organizations like Community Health Centers play a critical role in the census by spreading the word to their patients and communities about the importance of completing and submitting the form. In the next few weeks Health Centers and nonprofits across the state of Michigan will be receiving a toolkit packed with resources to get involved and spread the word. Today, you can begin by getting educated on nonprofits’ role in the census and spreading the word on your website and in your publications.
And, in case you missed it, an archive of the October webinar “Nonprofits and the 2010 Census: Nuts and Bolts” is available below: