The 2020 Census

The 2020 Census is just around the corner.  It’s crucial that we understand why it’s important and just what’s at stake for Middle Tennessee and the rest of the state.

2020 Census data will be used to determine how $675 billion in federal funding will be allocated to state, county, and community-based programs around the country.  An undercount would have a dramatic negative impact on our nonprofit partners working in education, as well as those working with marginalized youth and promoting wildlife conservation.

As nonprofits, you are the trusted allies in your communities and can play a unique and important role in ensuring that all people are counted – and that everyone counts.

What is the Census?

The Census is a national survey that counts the entire U.S. population every ten years.  It counts all residents, regardless of age, race, location, and citizenship status.  The data is important because it will be used to determine the allocation of federal funding over the course of the next decade.

The survey itself has seven questions and takes approximately ten minutes to complete.  All households will be receiving information about taking the Census over the next few months and everyone will have been invited to take part in it by the end of March.  For the first time, the Census will be offered online.

Why is the Census important?

Roughly 40% of Tennessee’s state budget comes from federal funding sources that use census data.  A mere 1% undercount in the state would represent the loss of $69 million in federal funding per year for the next decade.  This is funding that supports essential education programs, ensures that young people have the opportunity to thrive, and protects the environment throughout the state.

There are a number of populations that have been historically undercounted.  These include minority communities, children between the ages of 0 and 5, as well as low-income families.  The Census Bureau’s new online platform will also make it more difficult for rural areas to be accurately counted.  The first step in making sure that these communities have the resources they need to make sure that they’re counted.

What can nonprofit organizations do?

As trusted entities in your communities, nonprofit organizations can play an important role in ensuring that we get a complete count.  Here are some things that your nonprofit can be doing:

  • make sure that your organization is informed about the Census and has a plan for getting the people you serve counted;
  • determine whether you are working in a “hard-to-count” region;
  • raise awareness around the census by including it in your messaging;
  • make computers available for individuals to take the census; and
  • host a Census party.

Through the Middle Tennessee Donors Forum, the Maddox Fund and other local foundations have contributed to a pooled fund for nonprofit organizations to work on the 2020 Census.  The next deadline for proposals is February 1.  There will also be an informational session for nonprofit organizations on January 21 at 1:30 p.m. at the United Way of Metropolitan Nashville.  Please contact Kim Carpenter Drake [] for more details about either of these opportunities. 

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