Today’s blog is written by Andy Flynt Kathryn Harvey. Andy is the chair of the Complete Count Committee. Kathryn, Founder of Neue South, is helping coordinate the efforts.
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The US Census, Counting the People Since 1787
In the summer of 1787, our Founding Fathers came together to create the Constitution. In Article I, Section 2, they stipulated that a Census occurs every 10 years to reapportion federal representatives between the states. Since 1790, we have abided by this requirement.
As the years have progressed, the numbers from the Census has determined funding from the federal government. In fiscal year 2015, the Census drove over $11.7 billion back to the state of South Carolina from the federal government – that’s about $2,600 per person to support many programs, including law enforcement, social services, public health, housing and community development, among others.
The 2020 Census launched on March 12, 2020 with the opportunity to complete this brief survey online and by phone for the first time in history. Over half of the residences in Spartanburg County have responded to date, which places us in the top 10 responding counties in the state. In 2010, our final response rate put us in the BOTTOM 10 for response in South Carolina. WE have improved significantly, but there is still much work to be done.
In addition, with the current health crisis, the self-response deadline has been extended to October 31st, giving us more time to get Spartanburg counted in new and creative ways.
Why Spartanburg Counts
We live in a community that is rich with diversity. As such, the bulk of our efforts lie in helping our Hard-to-Count (HTC) communities to complete the Census. HTC communities are defined as historically undercounted and underrepresented groups of people such as racial and ethnic minorities, millennials, young and mobile individuals and families with young children. Interactive Hard to Count Map
How do we do this? We collaborate with our incredible community partners. The best way to get accurate information out about the importance of completing the Census is through trusted messengers and compelling collateral. This means forging partnerships with organizations like PASOs, the Spartanburg Housing Authority and Neue South.
PASOs supports and advocates for our Hispanic Community here in Spartanburg. They have been passing out postcards, putting up yard signs, promoting completion on social media, and working hard to dispel misinformation around citizenship. In fact, they were able to help 60 individuals complete their Census in April through a good ole fashion phone bank.
The Spartanburg Housing Authority has been working diligently to reach the 5+ communities they support through hand-outs, online media resources and even yard signs in more trafficked areas. While organizations are wrestling with the fact that community events and in person activations are not possible right now, we have been able to offer them materials to promote the Census, free of charge, thanks to a partnership with local marketing firm, Neue South.
All of these Organizations Belong to our Spartanburg Complete Count Committee
Our local Complete Count Committee is composed of more than 50 partners, led by Andy Flynt from the Spartanburg County Public Libraries. The goal of the group is to share information, updates, and outreach strategies with each other and the public over the next few months as we work towards a complete count. The Census count will inform everything from disaster response funds, to children’s services like WIC and free lunch, to roads and infrastructure repairs. Please help us help our community get our highest completion rates ever by sharing information with your families, friends, coworkers, and those you do business with. Don’t know where to start? Try the resource page on the library website and join our Facebook Group.
Want to keep up with how we’re doing? Check out this dashboard on our city, county and state ranking for the 2020 Census response rate.