Innovation and partnership to get-out-the-count during COVID-19
Contributed by Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta
Guest post by Calista Jahn, Voices for Georgia’s Children
It’s been two months since Census Day, and to date 56.8% of Georgia’s households have completed their form, lagging behind the U.S. self-response rate 60.6%1. While the COVID-19 pandemic is causing difficulty, hardship and unprecedented stress across the state, it is still essential we get an accurate count.
The results of the Census are used to decide how much federal funding is allocated to programs that Georgians rely on, like Medicaid, SNAP and the National School Lunch Program. The count also determines job availability, where grocery stores are built and how much food and medicine are stocked in stores and pharmacies. The results are critical to our state’s ability to respond to crises like these in the future.
That’s why groups like Voices for Georgia’s Children, GEEARS, Fair Count and the Georgia Family Connection Partnership with support from the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta have shifted plans and activities to continue to reach communities least likely to be counted in the 2020 Census – those living in poverty, people of color, young children and immigrants – who are also being hit particularly hard by COVID-19.
During April, these organizations teamed up to distribute 20,000 Census flyers to Atlanta Public School (APS) students through its meal distribution program as well as through several YMCA of Metro Atlanta sites. Voices created the flyer, Fair Count took care of printing and delivery (overcoming a quarantined FedEx warehouse!) and GEEARS APS Ambassadors volunteered to add flyers to meals, while APS and YMCA were supportive of the effort. We are fortunate that the U.S. Census Bureau has made the decision to extend response operations through October 31. Georgia needs to keep the 2020 Census top of mind by finding creative strategies like these to spread the message about what the Census is, how to complete it and why it’s more important than ever – so disparities and the ability to recover from this pandemic are not further exacerbated for the next ten years.
1Source: https://2020census.gov/en/response-rates.html as of June 5, 2020
Pictured: GEEARS’ Early Childhood Education Policy Manager, Jessica Woltjen, joins Atlanta Early Education Ambassadors, Yeme Thomas, Glenna Taylor, and Roderick Smith, in putting census materials in meal packages at Dean Rusk YMCA.