Editor’s Note: Miami-Dade Counts 2020 is a collaborative effort, built by a growing base of local and national funders, to help ensure that everyone in Miami-Dade County is counted in the 2020 Census. Natalie Castellanos, director of policy and public affairs for the Health Foundation of South Florida, Lindsey Linzer, senior director of programs and grants administration for The Miami Foundation, and Donovan Lee-Sin, public policy and communication engagement officer for The Children’s Trust, share why funders have come together around the census and ways nonprofits, organization and the public can get involved.

The Census takes place only once every 10 years, and the data gathered helps inform critical decisions that will affect our community for the next decade. The next census count takes place in April 2020. We want to make sure that every Miami-Dade resident is counted. Billions of dollars in population-based federal funding for everything from early childhood education to health coverage, transportation planning and affordable housing hinge on a fair and accurate count. That data also affects how congressional districts are determined, including how much representation we have in Congress.

There’s a lot at stake, particularly for the country’s most vulnerable communities. Miami-Dade County is home to large numbers of traditionally undercounted communities. That’s why a group of local funders and national partners have come together to launch Miami-Dade Counts 2020 in support of on-the-ground efforts supporting a complete and accurate count. The Miami-Dade Counts 2020 collaborative will provide more than $400,000 in grants to fund this critical work, especially in the most hard-to-count communities. Applications open today and the deadline to apply is August 15th end of day. All 501(c)(3) organizations, government, and equivalents serving Miami-Dade County may apply.

Partners in the collaborative include the Allegany Franciscan Ministries, the Census Equity Fund, The Children’s Trust, the Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties, Health Foundation of South Florida, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, State Voices, Stearns Weaver Miller, The Miami Foundation, the United Way of Miami-Dade and the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation.

Why getting a complete count matters

Simply put: the more accurate the county’s count, the more financial resources Miami-Dade has to support health, education and infrastructure needs, and the more representation Florida gets as a state.

Each person not counted translates into $1,800 lost per person, per year in federal funds for the next ten years. Miami has more hard-to-count populations than anywhere else in the state. In 2010, our county’s completion rate was 72%, versus the national average of 84%, resulting in millions of dollars in federal funds lost each year for the last decade. Of those undercounted, an estimated 10% of children were not counted – that is over two million children, mostly minorities, who missed out on vital programs like Medicaid, National School Lunch, Head Start that ensure they have access to a pediatrician, dental care, nutritious meals and a quality education.

How do we reach Miami’s hard-to-count communities?

Nationally and locally there are certain communities and populations that are traditionally undercounted, including Hispanics, communities of color and children under five years old. Surveys show that the primary reasons people don’t participate in the census include apathy, concerns about confidentiality, fear of repercussions and distrust in government.

When community members are informed, they are more likely respond to the census. That’s where you – the nonprofit community and grassroots organizations who know your communities best – come in. Currently, no funds have been allocated to support census local outreach efforts. We know you can’t go at it alone. The Miami-Dade Counts 2020 collaborative wants to put financial resources in the hands of trusted messengers and community-based organizations that will spread the word about the importance of census participation.

Resources for nonprofits

Miami-Dade Counts 2020 will support nonprofits and grassroots organizations as they plan for the count.

The grants will range from $5,000 to $25,000 and will be awarded to nonprofit and governmental organizations with thoughtful, culturally sensitive, and innovative strategies for reaching communities that have historically low rates of participation in the Census. This may include everything from convening community complete count groups to providing for organizational capacity, conducting targeted outreach and organizing events.

View program guidelines and submit your application here by August 15th. For more information, you can join a Webinar Info Session on Wednesday, July 17, 2019 at 9:30 a.m. Register here to let us know you’re coming.

The group is also focused on outreach and partnership – working to develop shared messaging and tools to help nonprofits, community-based organizations and grassroots efforts mobilize around Census 2020 efforts.

Please help us spread the word about the importance of the 2020 Census for Miami. Census day is April 1, 2020 but the count takes place throughout the late March and April. Educate your family, your friends, and your colleagues about why being counted matters. Learn more at MiamiCensus.org. If you want to financially support our efforts, please click here.

Natalie Castellanos is director of policy and public affairs for the Health Foundation of South Florida and a Miami Fellows alum, Lindsey Linzer is senior director of programs and grants administration for The Miami Foundation and Donovan Lee-Sin is public policy and communication engagement officer for The Children’s Trust.


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