09.04.18

Message From Jeff Hirota, CEO

Who Counts?

“…never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”
John Donne

One of the ways we determine whether we matter or even exist in America is by counting ourselves.  This happens every ten years with a national census and will happen again in 2020, which seems a long way off yet right around the corner. 

According to the U.S. Census Bureaus, “When you respond to the census, you help your community gets its fair share of the more than $675 billion per year in federal funds spent on schools, hospitals, roads, public works and other vital programs.”

The people of Boulder County, our nonprofit organizations, and your Community Foundation depend on an accurate census count.

Here are a few examples of why the census matters to our community:

  • Funding for Medicaid, SNAP, WIC, State Children’s Health Insurance, Foster Care, Special Education, Health Center Programs, etc.  One uncounted person in Colorado results in an estimated $1262 loss to federal “welfare” programs to Colorado (GW Univ).
  • Compliance with fair standards in housing, educational, and senior services
  • Establishing new congressional districts and losing others
  • Planning for business development, schools, workforce development, transportation, and emergency response
  • Informing local policy, philanthropy, and community-based organizations 

Why is it not too soon to care?

  • The last census missed about one million children, many of them young children of color.  When kids aren’t counted, the households in which they live aren’t counted either.  The number of unrepresented people multiplies.
  • The chilling effect of a “citizenship check box” on the census is real.  Some people fear this question might target them for removal of benefits or deportation.  Some households include citizens and non-citizens.  For example, 94% of Latinos under the age of 18 are U.S. born.  Individuals in “blended families” may worry about being treated differently by their citizenship status.
  • This is the first decennial census to use the internet as the primary response mode.  Seniors, people living in poverty, or people living in areas without adequate internet service may not have access to this technology.  How do we help ensure equitable opportunity for participation by other means? 
  • Federal budget cuts will affect communication and outreach.  How do we help people understand and access the census?  

Who counts?  We all do.  A fair, inclusive, and accurate census is a matter of equity

To learn more visit: www.togetherwecount.org and www.thecensusproject.org