144 Organizations to Congress: 2020 Census COVID-19 Plans Can’t Keep Communities Undercounted for Yet Another Decade

Census News 05.13,20

Contact: Tamika Turner, [email protected], 419.913.8088

WASHINGTON – The Census Counts campaign, housed at The Leadership Conference Education Fund, led 143 other organizations in urging Congress to take action to prevent an inaccurate 2020 Census in the wake of COVID-19 by supporting significant enhancements to the methods that have been specifically designed to count historically undercounted communities. The U.S. Census Bureau needs a clear and detailed plan that includes increases in outreach so that it can execute these census operations in a way that is safe, fair, and doesn’t leave communities behind. 

“The people and communities getting hit the hardest by job loss and illness right now are the same ones the census has missed for decades. As the Census Bureau moves to keep people safe by extending the 2020 Census timeline, we have to ensure historically undercounted communities aren’t, once again, being denied a chance to receive the funding, resources, and political power they deserve,” said Beth Lynk, Census Counts campaign director, The Leadership Conference Education Fund. “The Census Bureau needs to step up its plan to increase outreach to communities that have been historically undercounted even before we were facing a national public health crisis. Getting counted in the 2020 Census is a way to strengthen our communities and everyone deserves that chance.” 

Without significant enhancements to support the following operations, rural, low income and remote communities, people of color, LGBTQ people, people with disabilities, and other populations more likely to be missed could be denied their fair share of representation and resources: 

  • Door-to-door counting of households who have not yet responded to the census — the most complex, labor-intensive census operation; 
  • Hand-delivering census packets in rural and remote communities, on American Indian reservations, in areas recovering from natural disasters, in much of Alaska, and in Puerto Rico;
  • Counting people experiencing homelessness; and
  • Facilitating outreach to households with limited internet access.

In a letter sent to the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform, the groups recommended the following enhancements to the 2020 Census plan and operations:

  • Send at least two additional census mailings during the extended self-response period from May through early August;
  • Update the 2020 Census Integrated Communications Campaign, including extending the advertising program during Nonresponse Follow-up (NRFU), adding new languages, adjustments in COVID-19 messaging, and non-response targeting, among other improvements;
  • Expand staffing of the Census Questionnaire Assistance operation for all languages; 
  • Update guidance for stakeholders supporting the 2020 Census with regard to phone and SMS-related issues;  
  • Reimagine the Mobile Questionnaire Assistance operation in response to COVID-19 with an expanded framework that includes both “mobile” assistance and fixed locations, as well as a larger staff;
  • Schedule operations for counting people experiencing homelessness;
  • Provide key data to stakeholders to support effective outreach strategies and continue their “get-out-the-count” efforts; and 
  • Ensure a robust and accurate post-enumeration survey operation.

The letter is available here and is signed by the following organizations: 

The Leadership Conference Education Fund 

Census Counts Campaign 

Advancement Project California

Advocates for Children of New Jersey

Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice

American Arab Anti Discrimination Committee

American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)

American Federation of Teachers

American Library Association

American Muslim Voice Foundation

Americans for Indian Opportunity



Arab American Institute (AAI)

Arkansas United

Asian American Federation

Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF)

Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC

Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus

Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta

Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles

Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago

Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote)

Asian Law Alliance

Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance

Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO)

ATNJ Education Fund

Austin Asian Complete Count Committee

Big Sky Chamber of Commerce

Bill Wilson Center

Black Belt Community Foundation

Boat People SOS Inc

California Association of Nonprofits

California Community Foundation

California Native Vote Project

California State Senate

Center for Civic Policy

Center for Employment Training

Center for Law & Social Policy (CLASP)

Central American Resource Center

Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio

City of San Jose

Color Of Change Education Fund

Colorado Latino Leadership Advocacy and Research Organization 

Common Cause Education Fund

Common Cause New Mexico

Community Health Partnership of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties

ConXion to Community

Cupertino Chamber of Commerce


Empowering Pacific Islander Communities (EPIC)

Empowerment Congress of Doña Ana County

Equality California

Fair Count Inc.

Fair Immigration Reform Movement/Community Change

Faith in Public Life

Foothill-De Anza Community College District


Forward Together 

Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO)

Hispanic Federation

Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama

Human Rights Campaign

Immigrant Resettlement & Cultural Center

Impact Fund

Innovation Ohio Education Fund

International Children Assistance Network (ICAN)

International Rescue Committee

Japanese American Citizens League – San Jose Chapter

Kentucky Nonprofit Network

Kentucky Youth Advocates

LA Voice

Latino Community Foundation

Latino Network

Latino Policy Forum

League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)

League of Women Voters Education Fund

League of Women Voters of Connecticut

Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition

Massachusetts Voter Table

Mi Familia Vota Education Fund

Michigan Nonprofit Association

Montana Nonprofit Association

MontPIRG Leadership Fund

Morgan Hill Unified School District

NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc.

NALEO Educational Fund

National Action Network

National Association of Jewish Legislators

National Center for Transgender Equality

National Coalition for Literacy

National Coalition of 100 Black Women – Central Alabama

National Coalition on Black Civic Participation

National Community Action Partnership

National Congress of American Indians 

National Council of Asian Pacific Americans

National Disability Rights Network

National Education Association

National LGBTQ Task Force

NAVA Education Project

NC Child

Nebraska Civic Engagement Table

New York Immigration Coalition


Nonprofit VOTE

Northwest Health Foundation

Ohio Census Advocacy Coalition

Oklahoma Policy Institute 

Padres & Jovenes Unidos

Pars Equality Center

Partnership for America’s Children

PICO California

Poder Latinx


ProgressNow NM Education Fund 

Proyecto Juan Diego



San Jose/Silicon Valley NAACP

Santa Clara County Office of Education

Services, Immigrant Rights and Education Network (SIREN)

Silicon Valley Community Foundation 

Silicon Valley Independent Living Center

Silver State Equality-Nevada

South Asian Network

Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC)

State Voices

The Arc of the United States

The Florida Civic Engagement Table (FLCET)

The Health Trust

The Ohio Women’s Public Policy Network

The United Methodist Church – General Board of Church and Society

Together We Count


Union for Reform Judaism

United Presbyterians of Wilcox County, Inc.

United Way Bay Area

United Way of the Columbia Willamette

United We Dream

Vietnamese American Roundtable

Virginia Civic Engagement Table

Voices for Progress




The Leadership Conference Education Fund builds public will for federal policies that promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States. For more information on The Education Fund, visit http://leadershipconferenceedfund.org/.