2018 Strategic Planning Issue #1

2018 Strategic Planning Issue #1

Improve the Accuracy of the 2020 Census


The Census helps determine how much political power your community has in Congress, and how much money your community receives from the federal government. Each year, more than $675 billion in federal funding is dispensed based on information gathered from the Census, such as the number of low-income residents in a community.

An accurate population count is a basic component of our democracy, which is why the U.S. Constitution requires a Census every ten years. The number of congressional districts allocated to each state is based on the Census. States draw congressional and legislative district lines based on Census counts. In addition to political representation, hundreds of federal programs rely on Census data to allocate funding. Accurate demographic and socioeconomic Census-derived data is needed for an equitable allocation of both federal and state funding for programs serving vulnerable populations and for effective planning and policy analysis. There is much at stake in every Census.

Key Advocacy Groups for Accurate 2020 Census

  • The Census Project is an ad hoc coalition of hundreds of organizations across the country that support a fair and accurate decennial census and comprehensive American Community Survey. Its stakeholders represent a diverse range of American sectors that rely on objective data for decision-making and promote civic engagement: business and industry; civil rights advocates; state and local governments; social service agencies; researchers and scientific associations; planners; foundations; and nonprofits focused on housing, child and family welfare, education, transportation, and other vital services.
  • The Leadership Conference, a coalition of more than 200 national organizations (e.g., NAACP, National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, National Urban League, and National Congress of American Indians) formed to promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States is also advocating for a fair and accurate Census. Their Census 2020 Toolkit has lots of resources but none of them designed for adult education classrooms.

Why this is important to NCL

It widely acknowledged that that there has been a serious and systematic Census undercount of immigrants and minorities for decades. People with limited literacy are equally likely to be undercounted. Any people fearing government intrusion in their lives are likely to not respond to Census surveys. The 2020 Census will rely increasingly on online surveys, which is likely to further increase the undercount of people with limited digital literacy and access to computers and the Internet.

Level of effort

Adult education programs and coalitions can play a role in raising the awareness of adult learners about why the Census matters and how, and even assisting people to respond to the Census. The NCL could develop a set of ESOL and ABE lessons and distribute them broadly through its members and the member organizations of national coalitions formed to improve the accuracy of the Census.

Timeframe: January-June 2020