Gearing Up for the 2020 Census
January 11, 2017
Present: John Mullaney (Public Policy Committee Chair), Kristi Andrasik, Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, Margaret Hulbert, Anthony Richardson, Mary Sobecki, Marissa Weldon and Claudia Herrold (staff)
John and Claudia welcome everyone and began introductions.
Ellen Buchman (Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights) began her presentation on the 2020 Census. Key points include:
- Fund the 2020 Census to ensure it’s fair and accurate;
- Stop efforts to weaken the ACS;
- Take action to reach the hardest to count populations; and
- Educate local government officials to fund, support and prepare for the count.
Ellen also enumerated the current policy decisions and issues related to the 2020 Census:
- Funding in the federal budget, through the Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee, will likely culminate in the spring; discussion ensued about the amount of funding needed, the amounts that have been requested by the Census Bureau and the administration and the move to an electronic emphasis on data gathering.
- Revised ethnicity/race questions in the Census, which the Leadership Conference has submitted comments on, need to submitted to Congress by April 1, with OMB and Bureau having authority to change the designations of ethnicities and races for inclusion in the categories of answers.
- Reliance on Internet as primary tool to collect data poses challenges in terms of funding testing and building the platform as well as access issues for respondents and the security of data (and perception of security) among the general population.
- Use of administrative data records to develop a full and accurate address list.
- Residence criteria related to incarcerated persons, whether they will be counted at the prison location or at their home county.
Ohio is one of 4 states targeted by Democracy Funders Collaborative (along with California, New York and North Carolina) for advocacy work related to these policy decisions and later work. The Leadership Conference is taking a lead role in field coordination, communication resources development and coordination and policy coordination. Resources including key messages should be available in February.
Steven Kelley (Ohio Development Services Agency) provided highlights of Ohio’s experiences during the last two census counts. He emphasized the critical importance of the ACS dataset, including poverty numbers as well as other elements, which Ohio uses in many contexts. He shared knowledge of Canada’s unsuccessful experience in using the Internet for its count and said that the question of allowing the use of administrative records in building an address list is in discussion among lawyers of the Bureau and Governor Kasich’s administration.
Erin Skene-Pratt (Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers) gave a quick overview of the Midwest Census project (Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin associations) and the connection the Forum has to the Democracy Funders Collaborative. The Forum has a webpage with Census materials and there will be a webinar on February 27 for funders, explaining the importance of the policy work.
Claudia and John led a discussion that began with the recognition that the Philanthropy Ohio Board of Trustees had approved participation in the Midwest project, engaging members interested in the work. Everyone indicated their interest in being part of an affinity group focused on the Census work. They discussed the desire for Philanthropy Ohio to include key messages about the Census work at Foundations on the Hill, with two key points agreed upon: 1) fund sufficiently to ensure a fair and accurate count; and 2) the ACS is a necessary part of the Census so do not weaken it.
Others who are visiting with members of the Ohio delegation separately would also like to have the messages for use in meetings. The group would like to meet again before FOTH to continue discussions. There was interest in finding out who among the advocacy/nonprofit community might be working in Ohio. Claudia mentioned that she is talking on Friday with Zach Roberts, from the Ohio Organizing Collaborative, about their work.