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Power, Political Representation, Money: What’s at Stake with the 2020 Census

“Power, political representation, money. That’s what the census is about. Who deserves it, who has it, who gets to keep it.” These words from Arturo Vargas articulated what is at stake with the 2020 Census looming around the corner. Mr. Vargas, who serves as CEO of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund, is a nationally recognized expert in Latino demographic trends, electoral participation, voting rights, the Census and redistricting.

On October 23, 2018, he joined Rose Community Foundation and our partners from the philanthropic, nonprofit, government and business communities to discuss the upcoming 2020 Census. Many thanks to those who joined us for the sessions.

Mr. Vargas reminded attendees that all of the programs designed to serve vulnerable communities depend on the Census, but the irony is that vulnerable populations are least likely to be counted.

Our tax dollars come back to us according to the number of people living in our states and communities; Congressional seats are apportioned among states based on the count; and the census data is used by local and state governments, foundations, and companies to understand community needs and direct resources.

Yet the Census faces historic trends of undercounting children under four, rural populations, older adults and people of color. Additionally, the upcoming Census is significantly under-resourced at the federal level at the very same time that it will be the first high-tech Census, bringing new operational and perception challenges. In the current environment, among many other issues the Census is facing, the understandable participation concerns of our immigrant communities represent a real challenge to Colorado achieving an accurate count.

We know that an undercount would result in Colorado losing tens of millions of dollars in federal funding each year – vital dollars that support safety net services for the communities that need it most, leaving a gap that neither the philanthropic community, nor the business community, nor local or state government can fill.

We believe that all people count, and all people should be counted.

As such, we must work together to ensure that Colorado is prepared for the next Census. The State of California has already allocated $90 million in state funding and $10 million in philanthropic resources towards outreach efforts, technical assistance, Complete Count committees, and other activities that will engage hard-to-reach communities in the Census.  They are doing this because they know what is at stake – both in terms of federal funding and Congressional apportionment.

Rose Community Foundation is serving as the fiscal agent for Together We Count to help organize Colorado’s efforts around this issue. We invite you to join us in the effort to ensure a fair and accurate Census count for Colorado.

We have captured the resources shared at our Forum here, or you can watch the video of the morning presentations here.

Additionally, this video from the Ford Foundation does a great job of summarizing why the Census matters and what individuals and organizations can do about it:

Thank our partners who helped us plan this event and spread the word about it. We are so fortunate to have the Colorado Association of Funders, Community Resource Center, Colorado Nonprofit Association, and Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce as partners for today’s forum and also as partners in other ways throughout the year.


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