CENSUS OUTREACH EFFORT

Amid concerns that underfunding could lead to another undercount of minority New Yorkers, non-profit organizations across New York City are taking action to make sure that everyone is counted. We’ll talk to the woman leading the charge.

Aired on December 13, 2019. 

TRANSCRIPT

THE 2020 CENSUS IS ALMOST HERE.

IN FACT, STARTING NEXT MARCH, THE UNITED STATES WILL ONCE AGAIN ATTEMPT TO COUNT EVERY PERSON LIVING IN THIS COUNTRY IN ORDER TO DETERMINE THE DISTRIBUTION OF FEDERAL DOLLARS AND THE NUMBER OF SEATS EACH STATE IS ALLOCATED IN CONGRESS.

FOLLOWING THE LAST NATIONAL CENSUS IN 2010 WHEN CITY LEADERS BELIEVED THE COUNT MAY HAVE MISSED AS MANY AS 250,000 RESIDENTS HERE IN NEW YORK, PUBLIC OFFICIALS AND LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS HAVE REVVED UP THEIR EFFORTS TO GET ALL NEW YORKERS TO PARTICIPATE IN THE 2020 COUNT.

A NON-PROFIT COMMUNITY EXCHANGE IS ONE OF THE ORGANIZATIONS HELPING OTHER NON-PROFITS EDUCATE THEIR COMMUNITIES ABOUT NEXT YEAR'S CENSUS.

JOINING US TO TALK ABOUT THOSE EFFORTS AMONG OTHER THINGS IS THE PRESIDENT AND CEO, KATIE LEONBERGER.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT CRE.

WHAT DO YOU DO?

IT'S A NON-PROFIT CONSULTING FIRM.

OUR MISSION IS TO STRENGTHEN OTHER ORGANIZATIONS WORKING TO REDUCE POVERTY AND ADVANCE JUSTICE.

WE PROVIDE PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT TRAINING, STRATEGIC PLANNING, SUPPORT AND COACHING SUPPORT FOR NON-PROFITS SO THEY CAN ACHIEVE THEIR MISSIONS.

WE DO THIS WITH 500 ORGANIZATIONS EACH YEAR.

NON-PROFITS AND FOUNDATIONS AND GOVERNMENT AGENCIES.

MOST EXPERTS AGREE THE 2010 -- IN THE 2010 CENSUS, NEW YORK CITY WAS WOEFULLY UNDERCOUNTED.

WHY DID THAT HAPPEN?

WHAT'S AT STAKE?

WHY DOES IT MATTER?

LET ME START WITH THE LAST QUESTION.

IT'S IMPORTANT WE HAVE AN ACCURATE COUNT.

THAT IS BECAUSE AS YOU MENTIONED THAT THE CENSUS DETERMINES SO MANY DIFFERENT THINGS THAT AFFECT HOW WE LIVE OUR LIVES AS RESIDENTS OF NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK STATE AND THE COUNTRY.

NUMBER ONE, IT DICTATES POLITICAL POWER.

WE, IN NEW YORK STATE RIGHT NOW, STAND TO LOSE TWO CONGRESSIONAL SEATS DEPENDING HOW ACCURATELY WE COUNT EVERYBODY WHO LIVES HERE.

IT DETERMINES HOW FEDERAL FUNDS ARE SPEND.

THAT'S $650 BILLION THAT ARE ON THE LINE NATIONALLY.

FOR NEW YORK CITY, THAT'S $20 BILLION A YEAR.

THESE ARE FUNDS THAT GO TO SUPPORT HEALTH CARE, MEDICARE, HOUSING, EDUCATION, YOU NAME IT.

EVERYTHING THAT TOUCHES OUR LIVES AS RESIDENTS HERE REALLY IMPACT -- IS IMPACTED BY THE CENSUS.

THE THIRD THING FOR WHAT CRE CARES ABOUT IS A LOT OF THE FEDERAL DOLLARS TRICKLE DOWN TO STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND FUND NON-PROFIT SERVICES THAT IMPACT THE WAY WE LIVE.

SO THAT IS, FOR US, ONE OF THE CORE REASONS THE CENSUS WORK REALLY MATTERS.

TELL US WHAT IS CRE DOING TO HELP MAKE SURE THAT 2020 DOESN'T END UP LIKE 2010.

WE ARE REALLY HONORED TO BE ONE OF 17 CITY WIDE PARTNERS WORKING WITH THE MAYOR'S OFFICE AND CITY COUNSEL TO REALLY HELP SUPPORT WHAT'S CALLED A REAL GET OUT THE COUNT EFFORT TO GET EVERY SINGLE NEW YORKER COUNTED AS PART OF THE CENSUS.

CRE'S ROLE AS A TRAINER AND CONSULTING FIRM IS TO OFFER FREE TRAINING ACROSS THE CITY SO IN ALL FIVE BOROUGHS THAT NON-PROFITS CAN ATTEND TO LEARN BASIC FACTS AROUND THE CENSUS, WHY IT'S IMPORTANT AND HOW IT WORKS SO THAT THEY CAN SHARE THAT WITH THEIR CONSTITUENTS IN THE COMMUNITIES THEY SERVE.

TWO, WORKING WITH THEM TO THINK THROUGH HOW CAN THEY INTEGRATE CENSUS EDUCATION AND OUTREACH INTO THEIR DAY TO DAY SERVICES.

FOR EXAMPLE, IF YOU RUN AN AFTER SCHOOL PROGRAM IN QUEENS, BY WORKING WITH CRE AND THESE TRAININGS, YOU WILL HAVE THE INFORMATION YOU NEED TO SHARE WITH YOUR COMMUNITY THAT YOU SERVE BUT ALSO YOU CAN THINK THROUGH, HOW YOU CAN INTEGRATE EDUCATION AND ACTIVITIES AROUND THE CENSUS TO ENCOURAGE FOLKS TO BE COUNTED?

THAT WILL START IN MARCH.

MANY NON-PROFITS WITH NOT GOING TO HAVE FUNDS TO HIRE A NEW DEPARTMENT OR A SINGLE PERSON TO DO THAT WORK.

THEY WILL HAVE TO INTEGRATE IT INTO THE WORK THEY DO.

WHO CAN PARTICIPATE IN THIS TRAINING?

ANYBODY WHO IS GOING TO BE INVOLVED WITH AN ORGANIZATION, DOING WORK -- THEY WANT TO DO WORK RELATED TO THE CENSUS.

IT COULD BE A FORMAL 501C3.

IT CAN BE A COMMUNITY BASED ORGANIZATION, FAITH BASED, THEY WANT TO GET OUT THE COUNT.

AS LONG AS IT'S PEOPLE WHO INTERACT WITH THE COMMUNITY, PARTICULARLY THOSE THAT ARE HARD TO COUNT.

WE WILL WANT TO SUPPORT THEM.

IT LOOKS LIKE THEY ARE TRYING TO GET THESE ORGANIZATIONS INVOLVED.

IS THAT UNUSUAL?

IT IS.

EVERY LOCAL GOVERNMENT IS DOING SOMETHING TO HELP WITH THE CENSUS.

HERE IN NEW YORK CITY, BETWEEN CITY COUNSEL AND THE MAYOR'S OFFICE, THEY HAVE INVESTED $40 MILLION TO ENSURE A COMPLETE AND ACCURATE COUNT OF ALL NEW YORK CITY RESIDENTS.

IF YOU COMPARE THAT TO WHAT THE STATE IS DOING AT $20 MILLION, WHICH ISN'T SOMETHING TO SNEEZE AT, BUT $40 MILLION IS HUGE.

THEY HAVE BEEN STANDING UP THE OFFICE AROUND THE CENSUS.

WHAT'S BEEN COOL TO SEE IS HOW THE CITY COUNSEL AND THE MAYOR'S OFFICE ARE COLLABORATING TO POOL RESOURCES AND IT'S INTERESTING AND FANTASTIC FOR NON-PROFITS TO PARTNER WITH NON-PROFITS SO WE ARE WORKING TO COORDINATE WHAT WE ARE DOING.

WHY DO NON-PROFIT SNON-PROFITS, COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS, WHY DO THEY HAVE THE BETTER ARGUMENT FOR WHY THEY SHOULD DO IT?

WHAT IS THE ADVANTAGE OF THESE COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS BEING INVOLVED IN THIS?

THANK YOU FOR ASKING.

IT'S A GREAT QUESTION.

FOR US, BUT LUCKILY BACKED BY DATA, WHAT WE KNOW IS THAT NON-PROFITS, PARTICULARLY LOCAL COMMUNITY BASEDCOMMUNITIES FOR DECADES, THEY ARE THE MOST TRUSTED RESOURCE IN TERMS OF INFLUENCING HOW FOLKS THINK AND BEHAVE.

WHAT ARE THEBIGGEST CHALLENGES THAT ANYONE IS GOING TO EXPERIENCE?

THERE'S THREE BIG LARGER CHALLENGES WITH THE CENSUS THIS YEAR.

NUMBER ONE IS THAT THIS IS THE FIRST EVER DIGITAL CENSUS.

THAT MEANS THE FIRST TIME THAT RESIDENTS ACROSS THE COUNTRY CAN RESPOND ONLINE.

WHAT IT MEANS IS THAT RATHER THAN IN YEARS PAST YOU WOULD GET SEND A FORM TO FILL OUT ON THE QUESTIONNAIRE.

THAT'S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN FOR EVERYONE.

WHAT WE ARE GOING TO GET IS POSTCARD STARTING IN MARCH THAT SAYS, DON'T FORGET TO FILL OUT THE CENSUS.

IT'S APRIL 1.

THE IDEA IS MOST FOLKS WILL GO ONLINE TO FILL OUT THE QUESTIONNAIRE OR CALLING IN TO GIVE THEIR ANSWERS VERBALLY.

ONCE FOLKS HAVE NOT RESPONDED THAT THEY WILL RECEIVE A PAPER QUESTIONNAIRE IN MID APRIL.

THE FACT THAT THIS IS DIGITAL COULD BE FANTASTIC.

EASE OF ACCESSIBILITY.

THERE'S CONCERN OF PEOPLE NOT HAVING ACCESS TO THE INTERNET.

THE GOVERNMENT IS PARTNERING WITH THE PUBLIC LIBRARIES FOR NEW YORKERS TO GO INTO THE LIBRARY AND RESPOND ONLINE THERE.

FOLKS WILL BE TRAINED TO HELP YOU UNDERSTAND HOW TO DO THAT.

THE OTHER CONCERN WITH THE DIGITAL CENSUS IS SECURITY AND CONFIDENTIALITY.

THERE'S BEEN CONVERSATIONS AROUND HOW DO YOU HELP PEOPLE UNDERSTAND WHAT IS THE RIGHT URL SO THEY DON'T ENTER THEIR DATA ON SOMETHING THAT'S NOT THE CENSUS SITE.

OF COURSE, WHAT HAPPENS WITH THAT DATA ONCE IT GOES ON THE INTERNET.

WE KNOW THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION TRIED HARD TO INCLUDE THE CITIZEN QUESTION, WHICH IS THAT CENSUS -- THEY WANTED THE CENSUS TO HAVE A QUESTION, ARE YOU A CITIZEN.

THEY LOST THAT BATTLE.

THEY TOOK IT TO THE SUPREME COURT AND LOST THAT BATTLE.

DOES THAT RESOLVE THE PROBLEM?

IS THERE A LINGERING FEAR AMONG IMMIGRANTS THAT THIS WILL CREEP UP SOMEHOW?

THERE'S A HUGE LINGERING FEAR.

THERE'S ONE OF THE -- THE SECOND ISSUE IN TERMS OF CHALLENGES.

THIS HUGE LEVEL OF MISINFORMATION AND DISINFORMATION.

THERE'S IMMIGRATION COMMUNITIES WHERE THEY DON'T BELIEVE THE CITIZEN QUESTION IS NO LONGER ON THE FORM.

THE QUESTION IS NOT ON THERE.

THERE'S STILL A HUGE AMOUNT OF FEAR.

YOU ARE ASKING FOR MY NAME AND MY ADDRESS.

ARE YOU OPTIMISTIC THAT 2020 WILL BE DIFFERENT THAN 2010?

I HOPE SO.

I THINK WE HAVE GOT -- WE'RE MOVING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION.

WE HAVE A LOT OF WORK TO DO.

THERE'S BEEN SO MANY -- WHAT FEELS LIKE STEPS BACKWARDS BECAUSE OF WHAT'S COMING OUT OF WASHINGTON, WITH THE CITIZENSHIP QUESTION, THE LATE START.

WE HAVE OUR WORK CUT OUT FOR US.

KATIE, THANK YOU FOR JOINING US TO TALK ABOUT THIS.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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