Helping Others Be Counted

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The Fair Count to Fair Share Census Initiative seeks to ensure that the census and its ensuing policies, from the count to its implications for money and representation, are conducted fairly and that the interests of people of African descent are on the agenda.

As Sam Seaborn of The West Wing White House said, "It’s not glamorous but the Census has to be taken seriously." While many of our nonprofit colleagues understand why the Census is so important, it often needs to be explained to our constituents and the people we represent. Many Americans think of the Census as just another way for the government to invade our privacy. Engaged citizens may want the Census's promise of better representation at the government level, but we also may think it is inaccurately measured. And, nonprofit leaders may see it as something the government should solely manage.

What many people don’t realize is that the Census is critical to ensuring that we all have a voice. If every African American homeless vet in San Francisco, Native American performance artist in New York City, Latino day laborer in Los Angeles, and organic farmer of any race in Nashville Tennessee were counted, their voices might be heard at a government level. In the same West Wing episode, Sam eloquently explained why the Constitution mandates that the government count people living in the United States every ten years: "Because representation at the various levels of the government, federal, state and municipal, is based on population. The only way to find out how many congressmen California gets is to count the people in California."

Non profits are critical to this endeavor. The Funders Committee for Civic Participation recently released a report on the impact that non profits had on the 2008 election. Non profits used a wide range of tactics to manifest their dramatic reach, and because of those efforts they registered millions of voters! If we can use some of these same tactics (i.e. reach out via a variety of methods, educate our constituents, capitalize on the knowledge we have of the people in our area or demographic group), just think of the impact we can have on this year’s census!

Many nonprofits are working to make the Census a success, but more need to get involved. Here are some resources and toolkits to help the people in your communities be counted:


Plus, check out these "Be Counted" Census PSAs (featuring Rosario Dawson) from Voto Latino:

Pledge to take the census at
Pledge to take the census at

9 Responses to “Helping Others Be Counted”

  1. Sue Dormanen says:

    Thanks Dom and Aimée, I have posted a link to the census blog post on the Community Clinic Voice:


  2. Jenny Paul says:

    Very cool! Thank you so much for bringing attention to this important and timely topic!

    Another great resource was made available earlier this month by They launched a statewide site specifically dedicated to the Census: .

    The website gives users access to a large array of census outreach related data and innovative tools to design, analyze, and share outreach activities.

    Good luck getting your communities counted!

  3. [...] Check out these tools to learn more about the importance of the census. Share this: [...]

  4. Lesley Kountz says:

    I agree it's important to complete and be taken seriously. I know of some people who made it a mockery and included the names of their pets.

  5. dom brassey says:

    Very nice. In community spirit, Samuel Nunez from the San Joaquin Center for Fatherhood & Families shares this event:

    FFSJ along with several youth and community groups are planning the "Healing The Hood~Census Block Parties" in strategic South and East Stockton public parks to build community and reach the hardest to count populations.

    Our first event commemorates the birth and legacy of Cesar Chavez and is scheduled from 10-4PM on March 27th at Stribley Park in East Stockton.

    According to The Census Project, San Joaquin County is home to the 13th-highest hard-to-count population in California, based on criteria such as ethnicity, immigrant status, English proficiency, income, employment and homelessness. FFSJ has partnered with Sierra Health Foundation and the Census as part of a collaborative effort in Northern California to support an accurate census count, which is essential to the equitable distribution of resources and political representation. Census data is used to determine the allocation of $300 billion to $400 billion annually for federal programs. After a 2000 Census undercount of more than 500,000 people, California lost an estimated $1.5 billion of federal funding over 10 years, according to the U.S. Census Monitoring Board.

    If you are interested in getting involved, would like to set up a booth, or just want further information please don't hesitate to give us a call at (209) 941-0701.

  6. Else Strada says:

    It is nice that you wrote about this. I found you on google and I had been looking for info about this. Nice blog, thank you for the info. I will check back to check for new entries

  7. I for one believe the census is important and am all for it!

  8. Elaine says:

    Considering that only half the adult population bothers to vote, this is the only real representation we have in our country today.
    Every single wealthy person gets counted. Far too many of the poor are missed.

  9. Generac says:

    It may be that you have to see things from the governmental planner's point of view to appreciate just how essential the census is.
    I'm all for small government but consider the census to be vital.

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