Help us reach a complete count: Participate in the 2020 Census
What is the Census and why is participation important?
YW Boston is supporting efforts to reach a complete count in the 2020 Census. Every ten years, the United States counts the total of its populations, including each state, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. A complete count means that every member of our communities is accounted for, and that each of our diverse communities’ needs are known. Policy makers and private businesses use Census data to create voting districts, appropriate funds, and make decisions about future investments in our cities and towns. Here is what you need to know about the importance of the 2020 census and how to get involved.
A complete count is critical to advancing racial and gender equity in Boston and beyond
The Census is a cornerstone of American democracy. It determines political representation by informing how our political districts are drawn. It also informs how the federal government allocates resources to state and regional governments. This includes funding for social services, infrastructure, education, healthcare, and other programs. Businesses depend on Census numbers to make decisions about expansion and investment and communities of color, which often experience underinvestment.
Unfortunately, communities of color have historically been undercounted, effectively silencing their voices as federal decisions are being made. As Natalie Cone, YWCA USA’s National Director of Advocacy and Public Policy states, “When our communities aren’t counted, we see inaccurate drawing of political boundaries and we see denial of a fair voice in important local state and national policy decisions and it also means unequal allocation of critical resource and funding for programs meant to address gaps in education, healthcare, food security, poverty rates, and housing.” There are a number of reasons people may be difficult to include in the census. Reasons including difficulty finding those who move often or are experiencing homelessness, a lack of resources for those whose primary language is not English, or struggling to persuade people to participate who are distrustful of the government.
Specifically in Massachusetts, for every resident who is not counted $2,372 in funding is missed. Urban Institute estimates 63,600 Massachusetts residents could be undercounted. We have to work to ensure we have a full census count in Massachusetts. As Stacey Abrams, founder of Fair Count, politican, lawyer, and author stated, “Here’s the bottom line. If you aren’t counted, you simply won’t count” to those making political, nonprofit, and business decisions.
Safety concerns regarding the Census
Communities of color and immigrant communities were two populations undercounted in the 2010 Census. Given recent efforts to add questions regarding citizenship to the Census, many have expressed concern about responding to the 2020 Census. Please know that this effort was overruled, and there is no citizenship question on the 2020 census. No resident will be asked about their citizenship status.
Organizations such as Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, Lawyers for Civil Rights and YWCA USA are reassuring community members to complete the Census. Natalie Cone of YWCA USA states, “We shouldn’t want anyone to not participate in the census because they’re worried. We want everyone to participate… the Census is safe.” For anyone with further safety questions, please call the Lawyers for Civil Rights Census Hotline at (617) 482-1145 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to participate in the Census and ensure a complete count
- Fill out the Census by mail or online by April 1, 2020. In early March, The Census Bureau sent out letters to every address with your Census PIN. If you do not yet have your Census PIN, go to https://2020census.gov/ and use your home address.
- For individuals without access to the internet, call 844-330-2020. Staff speak more than 15 languages.
- Share Census awareness information in your workplace and online. You can share this blog post or the census website: https://2020census.gov/.
- Change your email signature to include the Census website and encourage your coworkers and peers to fill out their Census. For instance, copy the image below to put in your signature, and ensure it is hyperlinked to https://2020census.gov/. Find versions in thirteen different languages here.
About YW Boston
As the first YWCA in the nation, YW Boston has been at the forefront of advancing equity for over 150 years. Through our DE&I services—InclusionBoston and LeadBoston—as well as our advocacy work and youth programming, we help individuals and organizations change policies, practices, attitudes, and behaviors with a goal of creating more inclusive environments where women, people of color, and especially women of color can succeed.