Mayor Bill de Blasio announced today the launch of New York City Neighborhood Organizing Census Committees (“NOCCs”), the cornerstone of NYC Census 2020’s Field Program. The NOCCs program seeks to recruit 2,500 volunteer “Census Ambassadors” citywide to engage in local census-related outreach, with the ultimate goal of significantly increasing New York City’s self-response rate in the 2020 Census.
“Successful campaigns come from the grassroots. That’s why we’re taking to the streets to ensure all New Yorkers get counted next year,” said Mayor de Blasio. “Everyone in this city has a role to play. We must encourage one another to fill out the census and ensure we get an accurate count.”
“Engaging New Yorkers through NOCCs is a highly effective way to ensure City-wide participation in the Census,” said J. Phillip Thompson, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives. “Combined with our $19 million investment to support community-based census education and organizing, NYC Census 2020 is maximizing all of the City’s resources to engage as many people as possible in this critically important count, especially from those within communities that historically have not engaged in the past.”
Starting today, interested New Yorkers can sign up to volunteer and join their local NOCC by visiting NYC Census 2020’s website: nyc.gov/census. NOCC volunteers will primarily engage in four organizing tactics: teach-ins, phone banking, “text-banking,” and community canvassing.
“Our team is leading a multi-pronged, campaign-style strategy in coordination with a broad range of stakeholders to proactively engage New Yorkers from all walks of life. We know that when our communities organize, there’s nothing that can stop us. That’s why we’re empowering everyday New Yorkers to act as trusted voices in their own communities and help organize their neighborhoods for a full 2020 count,” said NYC Census 2020 Director Julie Menin.
Relying on a “train the trainer” model of organizing, NYC Census 2020 will train volunteers via “Census 101” trainings on what the census is, its importance to New York City, and best practices for community organizing. NOCC volunteers will also be provided with printed materials, talking points, digital toolkits, and more. NOCC volunteers will then be expected to conduct census-related organizing activities in their neighborhoods and will have access to cutting-edge direct-engagement technological tools.
As part of the NOCCS program, NYC Census 2020 will organize the city into 245 neighborhoods across all five boroughs. Each NOCC contains a group of census tracts, and the NOCC neighborhood boundary lines will be drawn along the appropriate census tract boundaries. This is particularly important as the U.S. Census Bureau will provide daily data starting next March about the rate of self-response in each census tract. New Yorkers will be able to see an average self-response rate for their neighborhood on NYC Census 2020’s website in real time, and compare that rate to the rate of self-response in 2010.
Given New York City’s overall low self-response rate in 2010 (62 percent, as compared to the national average of 76 percent), this comparison creates an incentive for neighborhoods to improve on their 2010 performance.
NOCCS: How to get involved
As of today, any New Yorker interested in joining a local NOCC can access an interactive map that allows one to simply type in an address and see the average 2010 self-response rate for their neighborhood and, with just a few clicks, allows them to sign up for their local NOCC. Once a volunteer signs up, they will receive an e-mail within three business days informing them of upcoming Census 101 trainings, as well as providing them with information regarding census-related events across the city.
All interested volunteers will be required to attend a Census 101 training and commit to engaging in a certain number of outreach activities. Each NOCC will consist of a NOCC Leader; three NOCC Captains charged with specific roles and responsibilities, and volunteers.
The decennial census, mandated by the U.S. Constitution and conducted every 10 years since 1790, determines how more than $650 billion in federal funds for public education, public housing, roads and bridges, and more, are distributed annually throughout the country. The census also determines the number of seats each state is allocated in the House of Representatives (and thus, the Electoral College).
The U.S. Census Bureau is currently estimating that, due to a variety of factors, the city’s self-response rate may be even lower – 58 percent – in 2020. Another undercount could cost the State of New York up to two congressional seats, emphasizing the importance of a complete and accurate count of New York City.
NYC Census 2020 is currently building a diverse, multi-lingual field team that reflects the wide diversity of New York City’s neighborhoods and communities. This team will be charged with partnering with everyday New Yorkers on the ground to ensure that the importance of the census is conveyed across the city, and with the appropriate linguistic and cultural competencies. The NOCCs program will be implemented by NYC Census 2020’s Field Team which is led by Kathleen Daniel. Kathleen recently joined the NYC Census 2020 leadership team, led by Deputy Director Amit S. Bagga.
Kathleen Daniel, Field Director
Kathleen Daniel joined the de Blasio Administration as Field Director for NYC Census 2020 in July after serving for several years as Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams’ Outreach Director. A veteran of multiple congressional, state, and local campaigns and a speaker of French, Kreyol, and Spanish, Kathleen also worked on the ground in Brooklyn in both in the 2000 and 2010 Censuses. Kathleen has been an advocate on behalf of survivors of domestic violence and has also led public relations efforts on behalf of the New York University School of Continuing and Professional Studies. Kathleen is both a Brooklyn native and current resident.
Amit S. Bagga, Deputy Director
Amit S. Bagga has been serving as Deputy Director for NYC Census 2020 since May of this year. In this role, his fourth with the de Blasio Administration, he oversees The New York City Complete Count Fund, as well as the Field, Communications, Strategic Partnerships, and External Affairs teams. He has previously served as a Deputy Commissioner at the Department of Social Services and the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (formerly the Department of Consumer Affairs). Prior to joining the Administration, Amit served for several years as a congressional aide in New York and in Washington, D.C., as well as in leadership roles in congressional and citywide campaigns. A speaker of Hindi, Punjabi, and Spanish, Amit is a native of The Bronx and a current resident of Queens.
NYC Census 2020 is a first-of-its-kind organizing initiative established by Mayor de Blasio in January 2019 to engage in a multi-pronged effort to ensure a complete and accurate count of all New Yorkers in the 2020 Census. NYC Census 2020’s program is built on four pillars: (1) its community-based New York City Complete Count Fund; (2) its in-house “Get Out the Count” field campaign; (3) innovative, multi-lingual, tailored messaging and marketing; as well as (4) its in-depth Agency and Partnerships engagement plan that seeks to leverage the power of the City’s 350,000-strong workforce and the city’s major institutions, including libraries, hospitals, faith-based, cultural institutions, and higher educational institutions, among others, to communicate with New Yorkers about the critical importance of census participation.
NYC Census 2020 is led by Director Julie Menin, an attorney by training, who has previously served as Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media & Entertainment, as well as the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (formerly known as the Department of Consumer Affairs).