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A Complete Census Count is Critical to Communities

Author: Helios Education Foundation

March 12, 2020

¡Hágase Contar! Make Yourself Count is an initiative spearheaded by NALEO Educational Fund and aims to ensure a fair and accurate count of the Latino community nationwide in the 2020 Census. Mandated by the United States Constitution, the census takes place once every decade to count the total population living in all 50 states and territories. This count matters – its results will guide the disbursement of more than $1.5 trillion a year in federal funding, while also determining states’ congressional representation. The U.S. Census Bureau details how decennial census data inform decisions that affect the future of communities nationwide, including investments in public schools and infrastructure. 

Because of its decade-long impact, accurate census data are critically important for all individuals. An undercount of certain population groups  has negative impacts on communities in a variety of ways. Vulnerable and hard-to-count populations, such as young children, those living in rural areas, and recent immigrants, are especially at risk of being  undercounted. NALEO Educational Fund reports that in 2010, 400,000 Latino children ages 0 to 4 went uncounted. 

“Given the importance of Census 2020 in distributing over a trillion dollars in federal funding every year, and allocating political power to communities across the country for the next 10 years, we cannot afford an undercount of the Latino community,” stated Arturo Vargas, Chief Executive Officer of NALEO Educational Fund. “A failed count of the nation’s Latinos, adults and children alike, would mean a failed decennial count for the country.”

The consequences of a census undercount are particularly evident for our public schools, most notably through lack of funding.  Without an accurate population count that represents the total number of children in our communities, federal, state, and local funding for public schools can fall short, resulting in our students’ schools receiving less than what they deserve. “A complete census count is crucial to ensure resources are available to public schools that connect all students to their full potential,” said Paul J. Luna, President and CEO of Helios Education Foundation.   

Rooted in our commitment to equity, Helios Education Foundation partnered with NALEO Educational Fund to inform our communities of the critical importance of a complete census count. With Helios support, NALEO Educational Fund leads Train-the-Trainer programs in Arizona and Florida to empower community leaders with information and resources that lead to a complete count. After training is completed, participants are certified as Census Ambassadors, prepared to support and engage their peers in census completion efforts. To date, over a dozen trainings have taken place in Arizona and Florida with more than 500 participants. 

As the first of five Census Bureau mailings arrive between March 12-20, 2020, NALEO Educational Fund continues to educate and mobilize communities to achieve an accurate and complete count. Visit hagasecontar.org/resources for more information, or call their toll-free, bilingual census hotline at 877-EL-CENSO.  

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