Mayor Bill de Blasio, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives J. Phillip Thompson, NYC Census 2020 Director Julie Menin, Council Member Carlos Menchaca, Council Member Carlina Rivera, City University of New York (CUNY) Executive Vice Chancellor and University Provost José Luis Cruz, and hundreds of advocates, service providers, representatives from labor and major civic institutions, and city officials today kicked off New York City’s Complete Count Campaign, the nation’s largest and most diverse coordinated municipal campaign to achieve a complete and accurate count in the 2020 Census.
“New York City has been on the front lines of the resistance against the Trump Administration and ensuring every New Yorker gets counted is central to that fight,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “No matter how hard the federal government tries to silence our diverse voices, we still stand up and be counted.”
“A complete headcount in the 2020 Census is crucial for the future well-being of our city. We have to get this right to ensure we receive the proper federal funding for our schools, our roads, our health care, our public housing, and more. This is our once-in-a-decade opportunity to show the federal government that we are here, and that we count. The City Council pushed hard to make sure we allocated $40 million in the current budget for the efforts to count every New Yorker, because every New Yorker matters. Community-based organizations are our trusted partners in this effort and will ensure that we reach every community across the five boroughs. Let’s get a complete and accurate count and receive the federal funding we need and deserve,” said Council Speaker Corey Johnson.
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With just eight weeks until New Yorkers can begin completing the census online for the first time starting March 12, 2020, Mayor de Blasio and NYC Census 2020 Director Julie Menin also announced that the City will invest $3 million in community and ethnic media advertising to ensure participation among the city’s most historically undercounted communities. This figure represents the largest such investment by the City in local and community media for any campaign to date. The census campaign will be advertising in a minimum of 16 languages, including several languages spoken by New Yorkers with high levels of limited proficiency in English.
The NYC Complete Count Campaign represents a historic and unprecedented partnership between a mayoral administration, the City Council, CUNY, and 157 community-based organizations across all five boroughs, as well as the city’s three library systems, labor unions, and civic and private institutions of many types. Consisting of all these partners and supported by an overall joint $40 million investment by Mayor de Blasio and Speaker Johnson, the NYC Complete Count Campaign, collectively, is by far the largest and best-resourced census-focused municipal campaign in the nation. A majority of that funding, an unprecedented $23 million, will go towards community-based organizing and outreach, the largest such investment by any city in the nation.
The plan released today details how the campaign seeks to achieve a complete and accurate count of all New Yorkers in the 2020 Census by engaging in:
- Targeted campaign-style organizing, with a focus on “Get Out The Count ” activities in historically undercounted communities;
- Aggressive earned media, paid media, and social media strategy featuring everyday New Yorkers and trusted community voices;
- Deep collaboration across all sectors: city agencies, houses of worship, elected officials, employers, unions, and more;
- Sophisticated data analysis and modern outreach tactics with new technologies to target outreach to priority neighborhoods, increase efficiency, and enable comparison to real-time self-response data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
New York City’s Complete Count Campaign Plan has been conceptualized and drafted by a combination of government and community partners, namely NYC Census 2020, the City’s census office, in coordination with the office’s Citywide Partners, a network of 15
of the city’s most trusted and effective advocacy, organizing, and service delivery organizations, in addition to CUNY. The organizations were discretionarily funded by the City Council in August 2019 at a total of $4 million to engage in census-related planning and organizing, and have worked hand-in-hand with NYC Census 2020 and the City Council on the creation and implementation of the Complete Count Campaign.
These organizations are:
- Association for a Better New York (ABNY),
- Asian American Federation,
- Asian Americans for Equality,
- Brooklyn NAACP,
- Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College,
- Chinese-American Planning Council,
- Community Resource Exchange,
- Hester Street,
- Hispanic Federation,
- Make the Road — New York,
- New York Immigration Coalition,
- NALEO Educational Fund,
- United Neighborhood House,
- The United Way of New York City.
“Achieving a complete and accurate count of all New Yorkers in the 2020 Census is critical to maintaining and strengthening our democracy,” said J. Phillip Thompson, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives. “This unprecedented investment in both community-based organizations and community and ethnic media advertising will allow us to reach New Yorkers where they live and in the languages that they speak. It will also help ensure that we are engaging critically important but historically under-counted and under-represented communities in the Census by leveraging some of the most trusted voices within these communities.”
“In Washington, the Trump Administration thought it had a plan to weaponize the census – and now we have a plan to fight back and get every single New Yorker counted,” said Julie Menin, Director, NYC Census 2020 and Executive Assistant Corporation Counsel, NYC Law Department. “Our Complete Count Campaign Plan is built on the idea that it is only through successful and strategic partnerships with local communities, major civic institutions, government, the private sector, media, and others, that we will be able to teach every New Yorker about the critical importance of the census in determining access to our rightful share of resources and representation – and we’re proud to be leading the largest and most comprehensive Get Out the Count effort being mounted by any city in the nation.”
“Helping New Yorkers to achieve a fair and accurate census count is a critically important task, and one that the City University of New York is uniquely positioned to help achieve both by helping administer the funds that are going to community-based organizations and by deploying our students, who reflect the full range of New York City’s diversity,” said CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez. “CUNY students are ready to venture into the hardest-to-count neighborhoods and ensure that the people who live in those communities, and who all too often are overlooked, are acknowledged and counted. We are proud to play a part in this process and excited about this necessary work to begin.”
“Almost one year ago, we promised to mobilize the Council to invest whatever it took to ensure a complete count in 2020. Today, we fulfill that promise with the most ambitious effort of any city in the country. But this unprecedented funding is more than a campaign plan. It is a recognition of the trust New Yorkers place in the organizations who serve them every day. The very trust we’ll need to reach our most vulnerable and marginalized New Yorkers no matter where they are or what language they speak,” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca.
“We’re entering the final stretch of one of the most important public outreach campaigns in New York City history. And we’ve stepped up to that challenge with a historic $40 million investment. I look forward to working with countless neighborhood leaders and the more than 160 community organizations that are joining us today to ensure we have a complete count in the Census,” said Councilwoman Carlina Rivera, Co-Chair of the Council’s 2020 Census Task Force.
In kicking off the Campaign today, the City also convened more than 150 organizations that are recipients of the $19 million NYC Complete Count Fund (CCF), the largest community organizing program the City has ever built. Also unprecedented both in scope and structure, the CCF has been jointly funded by the de Blasio Administration and the Council, with leadership from Council Task Force Co-Chairs Carlos Menchaca and Carlina Rivera, and is being jointly administered by NYC Census 2020 and CUNY. The convening provides CCF recipients training from both campaign experts and community peers on best practices for community organizing, messaging and communications, integrating census awareness into social service delivery, and more. This integrated government-and-community training approach is a first for the City, and serves as the foundation for the City building an expansive and deep civic engagement infrastructure that is meant to outlast and grow beyond the census.
Collectively, these organizations will be seamlessly integrated into NYC Census 2020’s Neighborhood Organizing Census Committees (NOCCs) network, announced in September 2019. This integrated outreach program will recruit thousands of volunteers citywide to engage in local census-related outreach, with the ultimate goal of getting hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers to self-respond to the census, especially in historically undercounted communities.
Volunteers will primarily engage in four organizing tactics: teach-ins, phone banking, “text-banking ,” and community canvassing. More than 1,800 New Yorkers have already signed up as NOCC volunteers through NYC Census 2020’s field operation. In addition to the NOCCs program, NYC Census 2020 and its partner organizations will recruit and train scores of trusted leaders to serve as “Census Ambassadors ” who will help educate New Yorkers about the census at teach-ins and other community events.
The 157 organizations that make up the NYC Complete Count Fund recipients serve all 245 New York City neighborhoods in more than 80 languages. Built on the understanding that local community-based organizations are the most trusted messengers of important and sensitive information, the Complete Count Fund is designed to resource and train organizations to build awareness about the importance of the census and fight the spread of misinformation and disinformation. Their community-facing work will be complemented by a multilingual $8 million advertising campaign that will feature innovative, responsive, and multilingual advertising and marketing that will broadcast targeted messages via a diverse array of platforms. The City’s $3 million investment in ethnic and community advertising reflects the need to reach historically undercounted populations. Advertising will take place in a minimum of 16 languages, including the top languages spoken by limited English proficiency New Yorkers.
“The announcement and implementation of the NYC Complete Count Campaign Plan, I am thankful for the alignment of resources and support that are desperately needed for the Borough of Brooklyn and our #MakeBrooklynCount campaign,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. “We’re working with community partners to begin mobilizing boots on the ground to engage with every and all Brooklyn constituencies in every and all neighborhood around the borough to ensure an accurate and fair demographic and population count during the 2020 Census.”
“Every New Yorker counts,” said Council Member Andrew Cohen. “Now more than ever, we must fight back against efforts to suppress, marginalize, and discourage participation in the census. An accurate and complete count is vital to securing our fair share of federal funding for critical resources and ensuring our tax dollars are invested back into our communities.”
“Census 2020 will determine what kind of New York City is for the next decade,” said Council Member Costa Constantinides. “Ten years ago, we lost vital federal dollars, services, and representatives because of low Census returns in western Queens. It is crucial we make sure every resident is counted this time around, because every New Yorker deserves fair representation no matter one’s status.”
“In the most diverse city on the planet, a complete census count could not be more important. Every New Yorker deserves fair representation at the federal level, and we must secure fair federal funding to achieve our unique policy priorities,” said Council Member Robert E. Cornegy, Jr. (D-36 Brooklyn). Kings County has many of the hardest to count tracts in the nation, and the resources allocated to the Complete Count Campaign ensure Brooklynites get the benefits they are entitled to as U.S. citizens. I commend Mayor de Blasio, Speaker Johnson, Council colleagues, and more on their steadfast commitment to this issue.”
“The Complete Count Campaign is an unprecedented city-wide effort, which I cannot wait to take a part in especially as I represent parts of Brooklyn which are historically undercounted and underrepresented,” said Council Member Rafael Espinal. “The Census is more than just data and numbers. It’s critical for social justice and equity. This huge coalition of city leaders, community groups, and advocates will be campaigning tirelessly to reach every New Yorker and get them counted. I call for every community member to spread the word in their districts that every single person in New York must feel comfortable being counted.”
“The closer we get to an accurate count, the better it is for New York City,” said Council Member Barry S. Grodenchik. “Representing one of the most diverse council districts in the city, I know how important outreach efforts are and have already hosted several community events in preparation for this year’s census. I look forward to continuing to work with the mayor’s office, the census bureau, and local stakeholders to achieve a complete count.”
“It is paramount that every New Yorker is counted in the 2020 census, no matter their legal status in our country,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “We must work to educate the public and make every person living in our state comfortable with being counted. This ad buy and media blitz in ethnic media is exactly the kind of outreach residents in immigrant communities need in order to feel at ease about being counted. Thank you to Mayor de Blasio and Speaker Johnson for making the Complete Count Campaign a priority by committing resources to get it done right.”
“We are working diligently on 2020 Census outreach here in Southeast Queens, and the Complete Count Campaign will go a long way in empowering our partners in this effort,” said Councilman I. Daneek Miller, Co-Chair of the Black, Latino/a, and Asian Caucus. “Given the current political climate, the need for hyper-local, culturally-sensitive outreach is greater than ever. My colleagues and I are pleased to be a part of this historic investment which will not only facilitate a complete count, but will also strengthen the relationship between diverse community-based non-profits and city government.”
“A complete and accurate census count is critical to maximize federal funding and secure due representation in Congress for New York City,” said Council Member Paul Vallone. “Important efforts like those led under the NYC Complete Count Campaign will help ensure all of our New Yorkers are accounted for and served in the future.”
“Each New Yorker must take ownership of the census. We have to count everyone in our homes, communities and across the state. So much is at stake with federal funding and fair representation determined by census numbers. There are no second chances. We will have to live with the 2020 census data for the entire decade. Let’s be sure to participate. New York City is demonstrating it’s commitment to the census with one of the most comprehensive census outreach programs in the nation,” said Assistant Speaker Felix W. Ortiz.
“The results of the 2020 Census will have a direct impact on the Bronx receiving its fair share of federal funding and political representation, which is why we must get this right. My office is working with the Bronx Borough President and the Bronx Complete Count Committee to educate hard-to-reach constituents on the importance of participation. I appreciate the thorough and comprehensive plan put forth to encourage Census participation and outreach to historically undercounted communities across our city. I look forward to working with the New York City Mayor’s Office, City Council, CUNY, and community and business stakeholders to ensure a full and accurate count of every New Yorker in District 34,” said State Senator Alessandra Biaggi.
“New Yorkers need to stand up and be counted in the next Census. Our representation and resources depend on it – everyone needs to be counted to ensure New York has the seat at the table we deserve. I will work with all our stakeholders to ensure a thorough, accurate count of New Yorkers,” said Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris.
“It is vital that every person and every community in New York City gets counted in the 2020 census. Electoral representation and billions of dollars of federal funds are at stake. I applaud City Hall for the NYC Complete Count Campaign and the recognition that ensuring an accurate census count will require the coordinated efforts of our community groups, elected officials and grassroots organizers. In the 2010 census, one third of Brooklyn households did not mail back their census form, making our borough one of the lowest reply rates in the nation. In 2020, we need to change that. Together, we’ll stand up and be counted!” said Senator Andrew Gounardes.
“Too many New Yorkers, especially in our immigrant communities, do not understand how important it is to participate in the Census and are unaware of the ways that failing to be counted negatively affects the day-to-day life of our communities,” said Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz (D-Brooklyn). “I am confident that the partnership between our City and local organizations in this Census 2020 Campaign will help to energize the response rate among people in communities that have been historically under-counted and under-represented.”
“This year’s census is crucial for future funding and representation of our community. We cannot afford to have an undercount of our population, or else we risk losing federal funding and representation in Congress. I am encouraged that the Mayor’s Office and the Speaker’s office are devoting such a large amount of city resources for this daunting task,” said Assembly Member Michael G. DenDekker
“Marginalized communities have been historically undercounted in the Census – not because they are less inclined to civic duty, where the opposite is true, but because malicious efforts have been motivated to silence and hide the true strength in our numbers. Every single New Yorker counts and, in recognition of everything that’s at stake, we will kick off an incredible and properly funded campaign to reach all of the voices that make up this vastly diverse and proud City. Nothing less than a Complete Count can be set as our goal, and I look forward in joining these efforts,” said Assembly Member Robert J. Rodriguez.
What’s at Stake for New York City in the 2020 Census
Resources for New York City families and communities depend on a complete count of the City’s residents. The census determines New York City’s fair share of hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funds that support public education, public housing, roads and bridges, and more. The census also determines the number of seats each state is allocated in the House of Representatives, and thus the Electoral College. An undercount could cost the State of New York up to two congressional seats, significantly weakening the power of New York’s voice in Washington.
In 2010, New York City’s initial self-response rate was approximately 15 percentage points less than the national average, and the U.S. Census Bureau is currently estimating that the New York area’s self-response rate could be as low as 58 percent in 2020. The U.S. Census Bureau also recently published its final 2019 Census Test report, which showed that there would have likely been lower census responses from Asian and Latinx populations if a citizenship question had been included.
“At ABNY, we are committed to helping New York earn a fair and accurate count in the 2020 Census and one of the best ways to do that is to support the community-based organizations already working hard in our neighborhoods,” said Melva Miller, executive vice president of the Association for a Better New York (ABNY). “Today’s launch of the New York City Complete Count Campaign, alongside the Citywide Partners who are trusted organizations across the city, is one way we can ensure we provide the resources that our partners need to do their jobs and launch a targeted public awareness campaign. Together, we are happy to be a part of the effort to make sure New Yorkers complete their census form and that our communities receive every penny they deserve from the federal government.”
“Hispanic Federation is proud to work alongside a diverse group of organizations focused on ensuring an accurate and complete count for 2020 in New York City,” said Frankie Miranda, President of Hispanic Federation. “Essential resources are at stake that will directly affect the Latino community and educating our neighbors will determine the resources for the next ten years. Through this collaborative effort, we will strive to ensure that our community is counted and will get the representation it deserves.”
“This convening of 157 community organizations by the Mayor and the City Council represents an important step in preparing the trusted voices of undercounted communities to ensure all residents of New York City are counted in the 2020 Census,” said Executive Director of the Asian American Federation Jo-Ann Yoo. “We look forward to working with all the partners to implement the plans and goals of the Complete Count Campaign.”
“Under the City’s leadership, an amazing array of grassroots organizers from across New York has come together to create a powerful campaign for a complete count,” said Co-Executive Directors of Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE) Thomas Yu and Jennifer Sun. “AAFE is proud to be part of this historic effort in our hard to count communities, where robust participation in the 2020 Census will mean more affordable housing, access to quality health care, improved schools and resources for immigrant entrepreneurs.”
“For nearly two years, Brooklyn NAACP has been educating and organizing our membership to prepare for the 2020 Census. A complete count ensures equity in our political representation but also makes sure we receive our fair share in funding for our schools, senior centers, housing, hospitals and much more,” said President Brooklyn NAACP L. Joy Williams. “Our national office has led the fight to combat the imminent threat of an undercount among African Americans nationwide and the Brooklyn branch, along with our sister branches of the NAACP Metropolitan Council, look forward to this partnership with the City and numerous community organizations to make sure New York City has a complete count.”
“Participation in the 2020 Census is essential for New York City, particularly for New Yorkers of African descent, who have historically been among the hardest to count. The Complete Count Campaign is an unprecedented mobilization of government and community stakeholders to ensure that no New Yorkers are left behind,” said General Counsel at the Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College (CLSJ) Lurie Daniel-Favors, Esq,. “With billions in federal dollars for schools, hospitals, housing, transportation, and other critical needs, as well as political representation on the line, the stakes couldn’t be higher for the vulnerable communities we serve. CLSJ is proud to partner with the City to spearhead an accurate enumeration of African descendant communities and secure our fair share of both money and political power.”
“Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) remain the fastest-growing racial group in the nation and makeup 16 percent of the population here in New York City. But a historic lack of visibility and data on our communities, paired with limited services and language access, prevent AAPIs from fully exercising their influence,” said President and CEO of the Chinese-American Planning Council Wayne Ho. “With a complete count, the AAPI community should receive additional resources and have equitable access to culturally competent and linguistically appropriate services that promote their social and economic empowerment. The NYC Complete Count Fund will not only provide the much-needed resources for partners to do census outreach and education, but it will also build a strong network of trusted providers who will continue to fight for our communities’ visibility and access in the decade ahead.”
“As we near the start of the 2020 Census, it’s crucial that we use every tool at our disposal to ensure that New York achieves as accurate a count as possible,” said President and CEO of Community Resource Exchange (CRE) Katie Leonberger. “CRE is proud to take part in New York City’s Complete Count Campaign and to lead a workshop today, in addition to holding three other trainings this month. Awareness about the importance of the Census — and why it matters for the future of our city — is vital. CRE will continue to work closely with the campaign to educate and empower nonprofits to serve as valuable frontline resources and connect with communities across our city.”
“In NYC, we are blessed with a vast network of brilliant and committed community-based organizations and neighborhood institutions that have long served our communities and strengthened our neighborhoods. The Complete Count Fund recognizes the power of that critical social infrastructure and invests in its long-term sustainability,” said Hester Street Co-Executive Director Betsy MacLean. “At Hester Street, we are thrilled to support CBOs, faith-based institutions, and small businesses — the lifeblood of our neighborhoods — with the kinds of tools, data and analysis they need to ensure a complete count and to create the conditions for all NYC neighborhoods to thrive.”
FPWA, along with our partners at UJA Federation of New York, Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New York, the Interfaith Center of New York, and the Council of People’s Organization, is proud to partner with NYC Census 2020 and convene the Interfaith Census 2020 Coalition, to establish effective strategies and tools for mobilizing New York City’s faith leaders, houses of worship, and the communities they serve on behalf of the city’s coordinated census campaign,” said Jennifer Jones Austin, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of FPWA. “We look forward to extending the legacy of our nearly 100 years of service to New Yorkers by organizing and mobilizing faith leaders from every background across the city to bring the clarion call of the census to their communities so that we achieve a complete and accurate count.”
“In 2020, we have a chance to make sure every single New Yorker gets counted so we get the funding we deserve for schools, parks, and hospitals. As someone who lives in Corona — one of the hardest places to count — I know the importance of the census. I went to over-crowded schools, and now I go to a hospital that is not even in the district because Corona does not have a hospital,” said Alma Grande, member of Make the Road New York. “This year, I will make sure my family gets counted and that my community gets counted because I want to make sure my niece and other kids in the area don’t face the same circumstances I faced. Members of Make the Road New York are excited to partner with New York City to make sure our voices are heard in this process.”
“A complete and accurate count in a city as diverse as New York is already daunting, but it is made much more challenging with our federal government’s ongoing attacks on immigrants. With our fair share of billions in federal dollars and representation at risk, we are delighted to be partnering with NYC Census 2020, local government agencies and other community-based organizations to develop, plan and organize New York City’s Complete Count Campaign. Today’s campaign launch represents the City’s strong commitment to involving community-based organizations with strong ties to hard-to-count communities, to ensure that every resident is counted, for the good of all New Yorkers,” said Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition Steve Choi.
“NALEO Educational Fund is proud to partner with the City of New York to help ensure that every single resident of the Big Apple is counted in the upcoming 2020 Census,” said Northeast Director of Civic Engagement for National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund Juan Rosa. “The data obtained from the decennial census helps determine the allocation of over $1.5 trillion in federal funding for programs on which we all rely, affecting everything from education to housing. NALEO Educational Fund stands ready to unify our efforts with Citywide Partners and community leaders throughout New York City to promote 2020 Census participation. Our toll-free bilingual hotline — 877-EL-CENSO (877-352-3676) — will be available to ensure that our community has the information they need to count themselves and their family members.”
“A fair and accurate census count ensures that communities get funding for the services and programs that New Yorkers need to thrive,” said Executive Director of United Neighborhood Houses (UNH) Susan Stamler. “The 2020 Census will be particularly challenging, and UNH is mobilizing settlement houses to educate their neighbors about the census and reach hard-to-count communities. We are proud to be a part of New York City’s Complete Count Campaign and to collaborate with partners across the city on these efforts.”
“United Way of New York City applauds this effort and is pleased to be a Citywide Partner who has informed and influenced the NYC Complete Count Campaign Plan,” said President & CEO of the United Way of New York City Sheena Wright. “This plan will help make certain that diverse New Yorkers of every background and language, especially those in low-income communities, are far less likely to be overlooked and undercounted in this year’s census. What is at stake is critical to the future of our neighbors, our communities and our city as a whole.”
NYC Census 2020 was established as a first-of-its-kind organizing initiative by Mayor de Blasio in January 2019 to ensure a complete and accurate count of all New Yorkers in the 2020 Census. The program is built on four pillars: (1) a community-based awards program, The New York City Complete Count Fund; (2) an in-house “Get Out the Count” field campaign that is supported by the smart use of data and technology; (3) an innovative, multilingual, tailored messaging and marketing campaign; as well as (4) an 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, higher educational institutions, and more, to communicate with New Yorkers about the critical importance of census participation.
Photo credit: Harlem skyline looking south Wikipedia.