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posted Friday, May 22, 2020 - Volume 48 Issue 21
144 organizations to Congress: 2020 Census COVID-19 plans can't keep communities undercounted for yet another decade
Section One
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144 organizations to Congress: 2020 Census COVID-19 plans can't keep communities undercounted for yet another decade

WASHINGTON (May 13, 2020) - The Census Counts campaign, housed at the Leadership Conference Education Fund, led 143 other organizations in urging Congress to take action to prevent an inaccurate 2020 census in the wake of [the COVID-19 pandemic] by supporting significant enhancements to the methods that have been specifically designed to count historically undercounted communities. The US Census Bureau needs a clear and detailed plan that includes increases in outreach so that it can execute these census operations in a way that is safe [and] fair, and doesn't leave communities behind.

"The people and communities getting hit the hardest by job loss and illness right now are the same ones the census has missed for decades. As the Census Bureau moves to keep people safe by extending the 2020 census timeline, we have to ensure historically undercounted communities aren't, once again, being denied a chance to receive the funding, resources, and political power they deserve," said Beth Lynk, Census Counts campaign director, the Leadership Conference Education Fund. "The Census Bureau [needed] to step up its plan to increase outreach to communities that have been historically undercounted even before we were facing a national public health crisis. Getting counted in the 2020 census is a way to strengthen our communities, and everyone deserves that chance."

Without significant enhancements to support the following operations, rural, low-income, and remote communities, people of color, LGBTQ people, people with disabilities, and other populations more likely to be missed could be denied their fair share of representation and resources:

" Door-to-door counting of households who have not yet responded to the census - the most complex, labor-intensive census operation;

" Hand-delivering census packets in rural and remote communities, on American Indian reservations, in areas recovering from natural disasters, in much of Alaska, and in Puerto Rico;

" Counting people experiencing homelessness; and

" Facilitating outreach to households with limited internet access.

In a letter sent to the US Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and the US House Committee on Oversight and Reform, the groups recommended the following enhancements to the 2020 Census plan and operations:

" Send at least two additional census mailings during the extended self-response period from May through early August;

" Update the 2020 Census Integrated Communications Campaign, including extending the advertising program during Nonresponse Follow-Up (NRFU), adding new languages, adjustments in COVID-19 messaging, and nonresponse targeting, among other improvements;

" Expand staffing of the Census Questionnaire Assistance operation for all languages;

" Update guidance for stakeholders supporting the 2020 census with regard to phone and SMS-related issues;

" Reimagine the Mobile Questionnaire Assistance operation in response to COVID-19 with an expanded framework that includes both "mobile" assistance and fixed locations, as well as a larger staff;

" Schedule operations for counting people experiencing homelessness;

" Provide key data to stakeholders to support effective outreach strategies and continue their "get-out-the-count" efforts; and

" Ensure a robust and accurate postenumeration survey operation.

The letter is available [at https://bit.ly/2WIJWY6] and is signed by the following organizations: the Leadership Conference Education Fund; Census Counts Campaign; Advancement Project California; Advocates for Children of New Jersey; Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice; American Arab Anti Discrimination Committee; American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME); American Federation of Teachers; American Library Association; American Muslim Voice Foundation; Americans for Indian Opportunity; APANO; APAPA Texas; Arab American Institute (AAI); Arkansas United; Asian American Federation; Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF); Asian Americans Advancing Justice - AAJC; Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus; Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Atlanta; Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Los Angeles; Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago; Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote); Asian Law Alliance; Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance; Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO); ATNJ Education Fund; Austin Asian Complete Count Committee; Big Sky Chamber of Commerce; Bill Wilson Center; Black Belt Community Foundation; Boat People SOS Inc; California Association of Nonprofits; California Community Foundation; California Native Vote Project; California State Senate; Center for Civic Policy; Center for Employment Training; Center for Law & Social Policy (CLASP); Central American Resource Center; Children's Defense Fund-Ohio; City of San Jose; Color Of Change Education Fund; Colorado Latino Leadership Advocacy and Research Organization; Common Cause Education Fund; Common Cause New Mexico; Community Health Partnership of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties; ConXion to Community; Cupertino Chamber of Commerce; EARLY MO; Empowering Pacific Islander Communities (EPIC); Empowerment Congress of Doña Ana County; Equality California; Fair Count Inc.; Fair Immigration Reform Movement/Community Change; Faith in Public Life; Foothill-De Anza Community College District; Forefront; Forward Together; Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO); Hispanic Federation; Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama; Human Rights Campaign; Immigrant Resettlement & Cultural Center; Impact Fund; Innovation Ohio Education Fund; International Children Assistance Network (ICAN); International Rescue Committee; Japanese American Citizens League - San Jose Chapter; Kentucky Nonprofit Network; Kentucky Youth Advocates; LA Voice; Latino Community Foundation; Latino Network; Latino Policy Forum; League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC); League of Women Voters Education Fund; League of Women Voters of Connecticut; Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition; Massachusetts Voter Table; Mi Familia Vota Education Fund; Michigan Nonprofit Association; Montana Nonprofit Association; MontPIRG Leadership Fund; Morgan Hill Unified School District; NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc.; NALEO Educational Fund; National Action Network; National Association of Jewish Legislators; National Center for Transgender Equality; National Coalition for Literacy; National Coalition of 100 Black Women - Central Alabama; National Coalition on Black Civic Participation; National Community Action Partnership; National Congress of American Indians; National Council of Asian Pacific Americans; National Disability Rights Network; National Education Association; National LGBTQ Task Force; NAVA Education Project; NC Child; Nebraska Civic Engagement Table; New York Immigration Coalition; NextDayBetter; Nonprofit VOTE; Northwest Health Foundation; Ohio Census Advocacy Coalition; Oklahoma Policy Institute; Padres & Jovenes Unidos; Pars Equality Center; Partnership for America's Children; PICO California; Poder Latinx; PolicyLink; ProgressNow NM Education Fund; Proyecto Juan Diego; Raíces; ReadyNation; San Jose/Silicon Valley NAACP; Santa Clara County Office of Education; Services, Immigrant Rights and Education Network (SIREN); Silicon Valley Community Foundation; Silicon Valley Independent Living Center; Silver State Equality-Nevada; South Asian Network; Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC); State Voices; The Arc of the United States; The Florida Civic Engagement Table (FLCET); The Health Trust; The Ohio Women's Public Policy Network; The United Methodist Church - General Board of Church and Society; Together We Count; UnidosUS; Union for Reform Judaism; United Presbyterians of Wilcox County, Inc.; United Way Bay Area; United Way of the Columbia Willamette; United We Dream; Vietnamese American Roundtable; Virginia Civic Engagement Table; Voices for Progress; YWCA USA; and ZERO TO THREE.

The Leadership Conference Education Fund builds public will for federal policies that promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States. For more information, visit leadershipconferenceedfund.org.

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