Improving Census Data

October 22, 2009

Participation in the 2010 census is a huge opportunity to shape the distribution of roughly $400 billion a year in federal funds to state and local governments. Census data guide government decisions about where to build new roads, schools, and hospitals, and where to locate job training centers and services for the elderly. Census information is also used to draw state and federal legislative districts. Everyone loses if the numbers are wrong.
Here in Illinois, philanthropy leaders have joined forces to fund an unprecedented alliance of 60 nonprofits to work together to improve participation in the 2010 census among hard-to-count populations. The Count Me In campaign will attempt to increase census participation in 37 targeted communities in Chicago and throughout Illinois.
Some great examples of what these groups plan to do? Voto Latino will engage with Latino youth through social media and celebrity texting activities. Other plans include networks of door-knocking individuals and outreach through churches, barber shops, and beauty salons messaging. Count Me In is a tremendous opportunity to leverage the strengths of community organizations and provide a model of partnership that could be used across the country.
Across the Midwest, groups like the Cleveland Foundation, the Michigan Nonprofit Association, and the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin Education Fund are collaborating with a host of local and statewide partners to achieve an accurate census count in all hard-to-count communities.
To underscore philanthropy’s commitment to the issue, the Pew Charitable Trusts just released a report detailing the difficulties cities face when trying to reach an accurate census count. The report provides an overview of 11 cities and the unique challenges each one faces when it comes to gathering census data.
Tomorrow: Philanthropy's Patient Capital.
Wednesday's post: The Problem of Youth Violence.
Tuesday's post: Designing Efforts and Charting Courses of Action.
Monday's post: Reasons for Optimism.
 

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Ellen S. Alberding

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