Together Oklahoma, an advocacy program of the Oklahoma Policy Institute, is working to ensure that every Oklahoman is counted during the upcoming 2020 Census by identifying partner organizations to reach hard-to-count residents, which have significant clusters in northwest and southeast Oklahoma.
To aid in this, Together Oklahoma is seeking community partners across the state to strengthen 2020 Census outreach efforts and ensure a more accurate count of all Oklahomans. Together Oklahoma will encourage and assist local outreach efforts by awarding $5,000 stipends to select non-profit, community-based organizations representing communities of color, children-serving organizations, rural populations, and other historically undercounted populations.
The stipends are to be used to support organizations that will actively engage in census outreach work by serving as a Census Assistance Center, hosting community engagement efforts, mobilizing Oklahomans to complete the census form, distributing educational materials, recruiting volunteers to help canvas hard-to-count neighborhoods or other key efforts.
Held every 10 years, the national Census is the basis for federal programs and services that impact every Oklahoman. These federal dollars come through aid, grants, and program funding, including Social Security, Medicare, food assistance, housing, transportation, education, and more. Oklahoma received more than $9.3 billion through 55 federal programs guided by census data gathered in 2010. Estimates show that each person not counted in the census costs the state about $1,800 per year in lost federal funding. By these measures, an undercount of just 2 percent could cost the state up to $1.8 billion over a decade.
During the 2010 Census, only three out of every four Oklahoma residents participated. Regions and populations with low response rates in past Census counts are considered “hard to count.” Hard-to-count populations include very young children, immigrants, people of color, rural residents, those experiencing homelessness, people with disabilities, and low-income individuals.
Communities that are not counted accurately could lose out on political representation and critical public and private resources.
Interested organizations should contact OK Policy Census Community Builder Jasha Lyons Echo-Hawk at firstname.lastname@example.org with a one-page summary describing their organization, the community they serve and how they plan to promote census awareness and participation.
For more information, visit togetherok.org/census.