My Two Census

Formerly the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 US Census, and currently an opinion blog that covers all things political, media, foreign policy, globalization, and culture…but sometimes returning to its census/demographics roots.

Posts Tagged ‘outreach’

Is the 2010 Census road tour still happening?

Saturday, July 24th, 2010

Even though nearly all enumerations have been completed at this point, a reader submitted a photo to us from the Whiting, Indiana Pierogi Festival (yum!) that implies partnership/outreach efforts are ongoing. MyTwoCensus.com seeks to determine why money is still being spent on partnership/road tour activities. Take a look at your tax dollars, still at work:

Poll: Just 31 percent know census is required by law

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

A survey from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press shows that Census Bureau still has a ways to go in educating U.S residents about the 2010 Census.

Though 90 percent of respondents said the census was very or somewhat important, the survey underscored the public’s lack of knowledge about the decennial count. Only 31 percent knew census participation is required by law. Answers about the census’ purpose fared somewhat better: 59 percent knew that the census is used to appropriate government funds and 64 percent knew the census determines congressional representation.

The survey comes as Bureau begins heavy promotion of the census: A $133-million advertising campaign began this week and a road tour was launched earlier this month.

The first stage of the ad campaign will focus on awareness and the Bureau has spent much time touting its outreach efforts — with nonprofits, minority groups and others. But it’s now evident that awareness about the census isn’t enough (84 percent of survey participants had heard of the census, and a full 92 percent were familiar with it after hearing a description) — education must be a key part of the marketing plans.

Perhaps owing to this lack of education, the poll also found that 18 percent of those surveyed may not participate in the 2010 Census. Ten percent said they might not fill out the form, 6 percent said they definitely or probably would not and 2 percent said they were unsure. Top reasons for not participating included a lack of interest or knowledge and a distrust of government.

Readers, what do you think: What’s the best way to educate the public about the cenus?

Census advertising campaign begins Sunday (VIDEO)

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

We have a few of the advertising spots from the ad campaign for the 2010 Census.

The Census Bureau‘s first advertising spot will air during the Golden Globe Awards Sunday night.

Here are some of the ads, courtesy of the Washington Post, Advertising Age and Ad Week.

Mail It Back:

The Announcement:

Next 10 Years:

Let us know what you think in the comments, and we’ll have more ads and analysis over the next few weeks.

Census Bureau to roll out ad campaign tomorrow

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

The Census Bureau is unveiling its $133-million advertising campaign tomorrow.

A Washington, D.C., event hosted by CBS sports broadcaster James Brown will kickoff the campaign, which includes television, radio, print, online and outdoor advertisements.

USA Today has a preview of what we’ll see from the Bureau’s ads in the coming weeks:

Today, the Census Bureau unveils a $133 million national advertising campaign that will debut at 9:15 p.m. ET Sunday during the Golden Globe Awards on NBC.

The money is part of $340 million the government is spending to promote the Census this year, including more than $70 million for ads targeting Hispanic, black, Asian and other ethnic markets.

The campaign chiefly targets the 84% of the U.S. population that consumes English-language media, but ads on billboards, radio and TV and in magazines and newspapers will circulate in 27 other languages.

The first of five TV ads directed by actor/writer Christopher Guest (This is Spinal Tap,Best in Show) showcases Guest’s signature style — using dry wit to showcase life’s absurdities.

In the first ad airing Sunday, a film director played by Ed Begley Jr. announces with dramatic flourish his latest ambitious project: Creating a portrait of “every man, woman and child in this beautiful country of ours.” The ad ends with two people whispering: “Isn’t that what the Census is doing?”

The campaign will feature different themes, says Jeff Tarakajian, executive vice president at Draftfcb, the lead ad agency, which is working with subcontractors who specialize in specific ethnic groups.

One theme is “10 questions, 10 minutes” to highlight the ease of filling out the form.

Another ad will have a crowd cheering as someone walks to a mailbox to send in the form.

Nevada awards $866,000 public relations contract

Monday, January 11th, 2010

The public relations firm Weber Shandwick has been awarded an $866,000 contract for a 2010 Census outreach program in Nevada, according to a press release from the company.

The Nevada Secretary of State’s office awarded the contract.

A few more details from Weber Shandwick:

The Minneapolis office of Weber Shandwick, which directs the firm’s work on the national Census effort, has assigned a separate team to lead the Nevada campaign. The Nevada program includes advertising support from Sawyer Miller Advertising and Hispanic and African American outreach by Weber Shandwick’s multi-cultural firm, the Axis Agency. Weber Shandwick has subcontracted with The Ferraro Group of Reno and Las Vegas to assist in executing the plan. Weber Shandwick’s contract runs through the end of April.

California relying on nonprofits in 2010 Census

Saturday, January 2nd, 2010

In California, nonprofits are expected to play a key role in 2010 Census outreach, but a lack of organizations may hinder efforts in some areas.

New America Media reports that there’s a shortage of nonprofits in some of the state’s poorest areas, which could lead to an undercount in those locations:

“This is a big, big challenge,” said Ted Wang, a census consultant with Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees, which is coordinating private sector funding for outreach in California. “Neighborhoods that have the least amount of infrastructure often are the ones that are the most difficult to count.”

San Francisco is a case in point. No county in California has spent anywhere near the city’s $570,000 investment on outreach, according to city officials. San Francisco is also home to 2,879 public charity nonprofits – more per capita than any other county in the state, public records show. But an investigation by New America Media found that despite these achievements, in Bay View-Hunters Point and Visitacion Valley, neighborhoods where the response rates to the 2000 Census were lowest and the need for outreach in 2010 is arguably greatest, there are disproportionately few nonprofits and very little capacity to do outreach.

San Francisco hired 13 nonprofits to do $300,000 in census outreach, but none of those organizations are from the Bay View and Visitacion Valley areas. Nonprofits in those neighborhoods were encouraged t0 apply, officials said.

“We were looking for people that knew the population and the population trusted,” said Adrienne Pon, executive director of the city’s Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs.

City officials hoped to fund a team of nonprofits that were already regularly engaged with the same hard-to-count residents they would be targeting for the census.

But that task was difficult because in San Fransisco and elsewhere, nonprofits tend to cluster in areas with more civic engagement, such as downtown, rather than in poorer areas. That discrepancy could have big census repercussions for California, where nonprofits are expected to play a larger-than-typical role due to the state’s fiscal crisis. California spent nearly $25 million for the 2000 Census, but has cut its allocation for the 2010 Census to less than $2 million. The challenges of location and funding mean that California’s nonprofits have a big task ahead of them to prevent an undercount in the state’s poorest areas.

New York awards grants for Census outreach

Friday, January 1st, 2010

Happy new year, everyone. It’s now Census year! We’ve valued all of your comments, e-mails and suggestions in 2009. Keep them coming in 2010.

To start off the new year, we have a funding announcement — and some disappointed groups — up in New York. The state is distributing $2 million in grants to community groups and local governments for census outreach, but the allocations are already under fire from at least one who group that applied for, but did not receive, funds.

According to a release from Gov. David Paterson’s office, grants were awarded in two categories. Funds for outreach and mobilization will help recipients distribute information, train community members to encourage census participation and help hard-to-count groups fill out the census form. Grants for media campaigns will fund census promotion in print, broadcast and online media.

Here’s a full list of groups and local governments that received funding:

Outreach and mobilization grants

  • Asian American Federation
  • CAMBA, Inc.
  • Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce
  • Centro Cultural Hispano de Oyster Bay, East Norwich
  • Chinese-American Planning Council
  • Citizens Advice Bureau, Inc.
  • City of Albany, Vital Statistics
  • City of Buffalo
  • City of New Rochelle
  • City of Syracuse, Department of Community Development
  • City of Rochester
  • City of White Plains
  • City of Yonkers
  • Council of Peoples Organization
  • County of St. Lawrence
  • Emerald Isle Immigration Center
  • Hagedorn Foundation
  • Hispanic Federation
  • Make the Road New York
  • Medgar Evers College (CUNY) Center for Law and Social Justice
  • The Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty
  • NYS Association of Regional Councils
  • Sesame Flyers International, Inc.

Media Campaign Grants

  • Asian American Federation
  • Asian Americans for Equality
  • City of Buffalo
  • City of Rochester
  • Hagedorn Foundation
  • Hispanic Federation
  • New York Immigration Coalition
  • Voto Latin

But one group not on those lists was quick to issue a statement criticizing the allocations yesterday. CaribID2010, which is advocating for the Census Bureau to add a Caribbean-American or West Indian category to census forms, says it deserved a grant due to its record of partnerships with media, churches and other groups to educate Caribbean Americans about the census.

CaribID2010 also criticized the state for not awarding a media grant to a Caribbean-focused group. Felicia Persaud, the group’s founder, called the decision “an insult and an outrage” in the statement.

Readers, where else have state grants been awarded? And what has the reaction been?

Iranian Americans urged to specify ethnicity in Census

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

We’ve written about the extensive (but controversial) outreach to encourage Latinos to participate in the 2010 Census — and now, Iranian Americans are also the target of outreach efforts.

According to the Los Angeles Times, this year’s outreach campaign is the first time Iranian Americans have been encouraged to specifically identify themselves as Iranians on their Census forms.

The protests that followed the reelection of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad  are expected to help. Since the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis, the LAT reports, Iranian Americans have been reluctant to identify themselves. But that’s changed since this summer:

“It has created a sea change in the way Americans view Iranians,” said Reza Aslan, author of “How to Win a Cosmic War,” who moved to the U.S. from Iran in 1979. “No doubt about it, it’s now cool to be Iranian.”

Some hailed it as a sort of coming out for Iranian Americans. The hope is that the effects of that change will be seen in the census count next year.

“It was a sort of boost or a shot in the arm,” [Census Bureau partnership specialist Nadia] Babayi said, because people were encouraged to say that they were Iranian. They weren’t hiding anymore.”

After the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979, many Iranian Americans and expatriates chose to keep a low profile in what some saw as a hostile environment. The 1991 film “Not Without My Daughter” was blamed for helping to cast a negative light on Iranian men. Starring Sally Field, it depicted an American woman and her daughter fleeing Iran and an abusive husband. And in 2002, then-President Bush declared Iran a member of the “Axis of Evil.”

About 300,000 Iranians were counted in the 2000 Census, a figure thought to be highly underreported. The U.S. government classifies Iranians as “white” and some didn’t know they could specify in the “other” category that they were Iranian.

Which states need to improve their Census response rates?

Sunday, December 27th, 2009

Census forms won’t reach homes until March, but the Census Bureau is already publicizing a three-stage advertising campaign aimed, in part, at encouraging people to fill out their forms and cooperate with Census workers.

So, in which states should the Census Bureau concentrate its efforts?

A look at the response rates from the 2000 and 1990 censuses show that, in general, the same states had low numbers in both years.

Alaska had the lowest response rate in both 2000 (56 percent) and 1999 (52 percent). South Carolina had the next-worse response rate in both years, with 58 percent in 2000 and 56 percent in 1990. (Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, had a response rate of just 53-percent in 2000).

At the other end, Iowa had the best response rate in 2000 with 76 percent, followed by Minnesota, Nebraska and Wisconsin at 75 percent. In 1990, Wisconsin topped the list with a 77-percent response rate. Iowa and Minnesota tied for second-best at 76 percent.

The national response rate was 67 percent in 2000 and 65 in 1990. The Census Bureau is predicting a drop in the response rate, to 64 percent, for the 2010 Census.

More areas with low response rates include Washington, D.C. (60 percent in 2000, 56 percent in 1990), Louisiana (60 percent in 2000, 58 percent in 1990), Hawaii (60 percent in 2000, 62 percent in 1990), Vermont (60 percent in 2000, 64 percent in 1990) and Maine (61 percent in 2000, 58 percent in 1990).

Other states with high response rates were South Dakota (74 percent in both years), Virginia (72 percent in 2000, 70 percent in 1990), North Dakota (72 percent both years) and Ohio (72 percent in 2000, 75 percent in 1990).

This county-by-county map shows a more detailed breakdown of response rates from the 2000 Census.

Some states are already striving to improve their performance from the last count. The Herald in Rock Hill, S.C., reported that the state will have heavier marketing and outreach efforts in the 10 or 12 counties that had the lowest response rates in 2000.

“Some people just don’t understand the importance of the census,” Michael Sponhour, spokesman for the State Budget and Control Board, told the paper.

Find local Census resources

Monday, December 21st, 2009

States and municipalities are launching web sites to provide information about and mobilize citizens to participate in the 2010 Census. The sites are run by local governments or state data centers and provide local jobs, contact info, volunteer opportunities and meeting times.

Many states have already launched sites, and other localities — from Maricopa County, Ariz., to Dallas to Mt. Pleasant, Mich. — also have 2010 Census web sites.

We’ve already written about why Census outreach is such a big deal to cities and states. Both the Census Bureau and local governments seem to be making an effort to develop online portals to educate people. Last month, OhMyGov critiqued the Census Bureau’s site, so now, we ask you, readers: What do you think of the web site your state or city has developed?

After the jump, check out a full list of the states we found with Census sites already set up. Leave any others you’ve found — states, counties or cities — in the comments.

(more…)

Cash Cuts May Cost California Billions

Friday, November 20th, 2009

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

By Marissa Lagos

(11-16) 04:00 PST Sacramento

California has slashed the amount of money it will spend on the 2010 census, a move that experts warn could lead to a flawed count and cost the state billions in federal aid over the next decade.

Additionally, the U.S. Census Bureau – which recognized early that states wouldn’t have as much cash on hand – is redoubling its efforts. For example, in 2000, 18 census outreach workers were dedicated to the Bay Area; this year, the bureau assigned 160.

The U.S. government hands out about $400 billion to states and local jurisdictions every year based on population counts made during the nation’s decennial census. The money pays for local hospitals, schools, public housing, highways and unemployment insurance.

While the federal government pays census workers to take counts, states and local governments spend money on census outreach efforts to stress to residents – particularly those who may be wary – the importance of the census.

But because of deep budget cuts in the 2009-10 California spending plan, the state has earmarked less than $2 million for 2010 census outreach, down from nearly $25 million a decade ago. The cut in state census outreach funds is a problem that federal officials said is playing out across the country.

In California, the cut means many counties, which 10 years ago received grants from the state for outreach in addition to using their own money, will get little or no state funding for 2010 census outreach. Some counties struggling with their own fiscal problems also have cut local funding for census outreach.

Undercounts costly

Sonny Le, a spokesman for the U.S. Census Bureau, said outreach is critical to ensure residents fill out the census forms that will be delivered to every home in the United States in March. Many people don’t understand the reason for filling out the form, while others are reticent to share information with the federal government.

Each uncounted resident could result in the loss of $1,000 a year in federal funding for a state, according to the nonprofit Grantmakers Concerned With Immigrants and Refugees.

Ted Wang, a census consultant working for the group, said state and local outreach efforts play a critical role in communicating with populations that historically have been difficult to count.

An undercount also could cost California a congressional seat for the first time in its 150-year history, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has said.

In 2000, 70 percent of the U.S. census forms that were sent out in California were returned – though only 58 percent were expected, said Eric Alborg, a spokesman for the California Complete Count Committee, a group formed by the governor in June to oversee the state’s census outreach.

Even with a higher-than-anticipated rate of response, Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes, D-Sylmar (Los Angeles County), estimated that California lost $2 billion to $3 billion in federal funding over the past decade because some people were not counted.

“If this year is a bad count, how many more billions could we lose?” Fuentes said.

The governor’s office defended the cuts as necessary and pointed out that in 2000 – at the height of the dot-com boom – the state was flush with cash.

‘Hard to count’ groups

“Given the breadth of the recession and the toll on state revenues, we had to make cutbacks in virtually every area,” said H.D. Palmer, a spokesman for the Department of Finance, who added that state officials recognize the importance of the count. “We’re pleased we are able to commit resources for outreach efforts to reach individuals that are hard to count.”

California is home to 10 of the nation’s 50 counties with the largest “hard to count” populations, which include people of color, young adults, immigrants and low-income residents. Alameda and San Francisco counties are among the 10 counties, topped by Los Angeles County.

People harder to find

Further compounding the challenge is the economic and political climate, experts said. The financial crisis, including the waves of foreclosures, has forced people into homelessness or nontraditional housing, making them hard to find.

Officials said some immigrant populations are expected to be even more wary of the count than usual because of an uptick in immigration raids and anti-immigrant rhetoric in recent years – including an attempt by several Republican U.S. senators to exclude undocumented residents from the count and require respondents to disclose their immigration status. The amendment was defeated, but sponsor David Vitter, R-La., has vowed to raise the issue again.

To make up for the cut in state census funds, the state is working closely with elected, religious, nonprofit, community and educational leaders to develop plans to reach out to residents and get accurate counts via the California Complete Count Committee.

The state is also developing a Web site that will offer tool kits in census outreach to community partners.

Meanwhile, some local jurisdictions are trying to bridge the gap left by state cuts. San Francisco and Santa Clara counties ponied up money in their budgets to fund local efforts. For the first time, San Francisco created a “complete count committee,” which includes community, business, labor and nonprofit leaders to help with outreach.

Still, serious challenges lie ahead, says Adrienne Pon, who is leading San Francisco’s efforts.

“There are no (state) funds this time around, and populations are more dispersed and diverse … (so) we’re trying to be more street smart and direct outreach mobilization efforts,” she said. The largely African American Bayview-Hunters Point “had the lowest rate of return in 2000. We know of eight neighborhoods like that one which we are targeting.”

Cities starting Census outreach efforts

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

As we told you last month, the Pew Charitable Trust found that major cities are behind in their outreach and awareness preparations for the 2010 Census.

That’s changing now.

Philadelphia, which was at the center of the Pew study, took a step toward those outreach efforts earlier today, when Mayor Michael Nutter announced an executive director for Philly Counts, the city’s Census-awareness campaign. Patricia Enright, a current Nutter aide, will assume that position.

That appointment came just days after Detroit officials announced plans to use volunteers and community organizers to help with outreach and making sure all citizens are counted.

Making sure all citizens are counted is a top priority in cities like Philly and Detroit, which have seen significant population loss in recent years. From 2000 to 2008, both cities ranked in the top five for the greatest decrease in the number of residents.

As the 2010 Census will determine federal and state funding based on a city’s population, there’s a lot of incentive for cities — especially those with declining populations — to put forth great effort in making sure all of their residents get counted.

Readers, what’s going on in your city? Are Census-awareness efforts already under way? How effective do you think they will be?

Los Angeles Times: Census Outreach Is Critical In L.A. County

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

Some news from the City of Angels (click HERE for full article) – it’s too bad the LA Times’ new web site looks like it was built for a high school newspaper:

By Teresa Watanabe

With sprawling enclaves of immigrants, crowded housing conditions and pockets of deep poverty, Los Angeles is regarded as the nation’s most difficult county for census-takers to count.

But as they gear up for the decennial census beginning in April, officials are beefing up efforts to reach the region’s far-flung polyglot communities with more community outreach staff and language assistance, including a first-ever bilingual English-Spanish census form.

At a meeting last week in downtown Los Angeles, U.S. census officials met with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, dozens of community activists, nonprofit leaders and state and local government representatives to craft strategies on how to reach the 4.4 million people who live in “hard-to-count” neighborhoods in Los Angeles County.

Census officials give that designation to areas where residents traditionally have low rates of census participation, including immigrants with limited English, African Americans and other minority groups, the poor, the less educated and those who live in crowded housing.

Los Angeles County’s hard-to-count population dwarfs those in all other U.S. counties and is concentrated in the city’s central core, from Sunset Boulevard to Imperial Highway, the Terminal Island area and parts of the San Fernando Valley.

Officials fear funding shortages and mistrust toward the government among many immigrants could result in an undercount with enormous consequences for California: the possible loss of a U.S. congressional seat for the first time in state history and the loss of billions of dollars of federal funding for schools and other services.

Congressional seats and more than $300 billion in federal funding for more than 170 programs are apportioned by population, as determined by the census. By some estimates, each person counted results in $12,000 in federal funds over a decade.

“This is the most important census in California history,” said Ditas Katague, state census director.

Fueling the worries about an undercount next year is a sizable drop in state funding for outreach efforts: $3 million for next year, compared with $24.7 million in 2000.

James T. Christy, the U.S. Census Bureau’s Los Angeles regional director, said the federal government has stepped in with some increased funding. It has expanded the number of Los Angeles community outreach staff to more than 350 people from 50 in 2000 and is offering informational guides in 59 languages, an increase of more than 20%. The new languages include Polish, Russian and Arabic. In addition, Russian has been added to the telephone assistance system, which also operates in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese.

Nonprofit organizations have also tried to fill the gap. The California Endowment, which sponsored the census forum, announced last week that it would provide $4 million for statewide outreach, and the California Community Foundation had earlier announced grants of $1.5 million.

But Christy said the financial woes remain worrisome. “Community-based organizations don’t have the funding to tack on a census message,” he said.

Christy also said that next year’s census, the first since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, could be met with suspicion from minorities who may be wary of government intrusion into their lives. He said the Justice Department had assured the bureau that the Patriot Act, which gave law enforcement broader access to personal information for counter-terrorism investigations, could not be used to force the surrender of any census information. The U.S. Supreme Court has also ruled that census information must remain confidential, he said.

“No one can get access to census data,” Christy said. “It is rock solid secure.”

To address such concerns, census officials are expanding their outreach staff and dispatching “complete count” committees made up of local government officials and community members. Committees have been formed by Cambodians, Koreans, Filipinos and Sikhs, among others. Officials are pitching the census as “safe, easy and important,” noting that the form’s 10 questions will not ask for Social Security numbers or legal status.

Multimedia Essay: A Squandered Opportunity for The Census Bureau

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

At Sunday’s Carnaval parade in San Francisco, the Census Bureau made a major blunder by not participating in the parade and only setting up a dinky little booth at an event in the vicinity of the parade that lacked the visibility of the main event.

The Census Bureau could have participated by creating something like this:


  

But instead, all the Census Bureau did to reach out to minorities was this:

Editorial: Census Bureau Squanders Outreach Opportunity in San Francisco

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

On Sunday, the Carnaval parade in San Francisco’s Mission District brought together tens of thousands of individuals, most of whom who are members of ethnic minority groups. Dozens of Central American, South American, and Caribbean nationalities were represented. All of these people are classified as “hard to reach individuals” by the U.S. Census Bureau.

In addition to the elaborate floats that represented community organizations, schools, arts organizations, and more, government agencies like BART and government partners such as the Sunset Scavengers had their own floats. One organization that was noticeably absent from the parade was the United States Census Bureau.

For a government agency that always touts how many millions of dollars it will save for each household that returns Census forms on time (by Census Day, April 1, 2010), the Census Bureau’s outreach to self-proclaimed “hard to reach” groups has been sub-par.

Yes, the Census Bureau had a tiny stall staffed by two bilingual workers at Carnaval’s accompanying festival. However this stall was inadequate as only a fraction of the people who attended the parade walked past it, let alone stopped to speak with representatives.

Hopefully the Census Bureau will learn from this mistake and correct this problem for next year’s festivities, which fall after Census Day, but before all of the surveys are due back to the federal government.