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Don’t Forget (and Remind Your Community) About the 2020 Census

Jeff Cobb

By Jeff Cobb, MASB Assistant Director of Government Relations

DashBoard, April 1, 2020

The COVID-19 coronavirus has disrupted many things this spring, including the launch of the 2020 Census campaign. The census went live on March 12, only one day before Michigan’s schools were closed and only two weeks before Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ordered residents to “stay home, stay safe, save lives.” Despite these setbacks, the campaign to encourage residents to fill out the census form continues.   

The goal remains to have 82% of Michigan residents fill out the census form by April 30, 2020. The good news is that our state currently ranks fifth in the country in completing the  form. The bad news is that we are currently only at 38.5%, which is well below our goal with only one month left to go. There are several activities planned throughout April to help get us there.

Originally, the plan was to host several town halls across the state to explain the significance of the census and help residents fill out their forms. Instead of in-person town halls, the state is now hosting virtual ones led by Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II, Attorney General Dana Nessel and other state leaders. The next town hall will be today from 4 – 5 p.m. and will be available via Facebook Live. 

Today is also another planned activity called the “Need a Break” campaign. All Michigan residents are encouraged to take a 10-minute break today to fill out your census form.

The mail campaign will continue as planned, targeting hard-to-reach households, urging them to be counted. The media campaign will begin ramping up this week with ads and stories appearing in local newspapers, and on radio stations and tv markets. There will also be a new texting campaign called “20 for 20,” where everyone is encouraged to text 20 friends and family members reminding them to fill out their household’s form. 

In-person canvassing is slated to begin in May but is dependent on the status of the virus outbreak and state guidelines. Census job openings are still available for those interested in applying.

At the beginning of the campaign, school buildings were going to be used as central locations to provide access to fill out the forms on the internet for those who do not access at home. Unfortunately, this did not go as planned, but school districts can still play a role in educating students, their families and staff about the importance of the census. This can be done by including articles and links about the census in emails, newsletters and other communications, in addition, to posting resources on the district website.

It is critical that we all do our part to be counted as this will ensure school districts receive the resources they need to serve our communities for the next 10 years. We appreciate anything your district can do to spread the word. If you have any questions or need more information, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

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