Author: Paul J. Luna, Helios Education FoundationJanuary 22, 2020
January 1 not only marked the start of a new year but it was also the dawn of a new decade. A new decade provides an opportunity for our nation to conduct a national census. The census is done every 10 years and is the primary source of data on the nation’s population and economy. Census data are used to determine our political representation and allocate the more than $675 billion in federal resources.
If Arizona achieves an accurate population count in the upcoming census, it stands to receive roughly $20 billion in federal revenue. It is estimated that Florida actually lost $20 billion in federal funding between 2010 and 2020 because of an undercount. Many of these federal resources are used for our education system. For example, Title I funds are federal funds that provide financial assistance to schools with high numbers of students from low-income families. This is critical funding that our schools rely on to serve their students. An undercount will add up to lost funding and the inability to recover those dollars for another 10 years.
In addition, the census determines the number of congressional seats each state receives in the House of Representatives. Arizona could possibly gain another congressional seat and Florida could possibly gain two seats, increasing both state’s input over critical federal decisions.
However, getting an accurate count is not easy. The reality is that the neighborhoods most in need of the federal dollars - high poverty areas, minority communities, and communities with young children - are often the ones with the lowest census participation. That’s why many states, including Arizona and Florida, have organized a Complete Count Committee to help educate communities about the importance of the census and help ensure the counts are as complete and accurate as possible.
Helios is doing its part by investing in organizations that work with the communities most at risk of being undercounted, including the NALEO Educational Fund's statewide work that supports the ¡HAGASE CONTAR! (Make Yourself Count) and ¡Hazme Contar! (Make Me Count) 2020 Census campaigns and OneArizona that includes over 20 community organizations, cities and towns, and philanthropic partners.
In addition, our Vice President and Director of Policy, Janice Palmer, was appointed by Arizona’s Governor, Doug Ducey, to sit on Arizona’s Complete Count Committee. She leads the Philanthropic Partnerships Subcommittee bringing together philanthropic groups around the state to better coordinate resources – financial and human capital – to ensure every Arizonan counts.
Click here to read more about NALEO's Census 2020 work.