Peter Dunn

Pete’s Perspectives: A Major Civic Event

The census tells us where our attention is needed in matters of education, housing, economic development, and transportation, as well as our congressional representation in Washington.

While we are navigating one of the most challenging moments in recent history, we must not forget that we are also in the midst of a major civic event that will have a significant impact on Central New York’s next decade – the 2020 Census. Ensuring an accurate and complete census is critical to our community.

Why is it so important? The nationwide count of every person in the United States informs our federal funding to the tune of $800 billion. The census tells us where our attentions are needed in matters of education, housing, economic development and transportation, as well as our congressional representation in Washington.

Recognizing how important it is to collect comprehensive and accurate data in this count, the Central New York Community Foundation embarked on a year-long funding effort, investing nearly $100,000 to ensure as many people as possible are counted in the region’s hardest-to-count neighborhoods.

How do we know that this is important? We are data driven. We’ve witnessed first-hand the lack of resources allocated to communities based on inaccurate data. One notable case involves Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program, which provides books to thousands of children in Onondaga and Madison counties each month from birth to age five. The number of children enrolled in Imagination Library came in higher than the number of children that had been reported to be actually living in particular neighborhoods. This may sound minor, but by not counting those children, Central New York did not receive the appropriate amount of government funding for libraries, schools, parks, hospitals and more.

An undercount leads not only to bad data, but erroneous funding decisions by governments that make allocation determinations based on population. As a philanthropic institution that relies heavily on census data to make key funding decisions of our own, a full and accurate count is one of our most pressing concerns.

By now, most of us should have received a census notification in the mail. We encourage residents to take the time to complete their surveys as accurately as possible for all of the people living in their households. Because every one of us counts. Central New York’s future depends on it.

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