Census and Data Equity
Promoting smart investments and policies to ensure a fair and accurate census and data collection that serves our communities
In order to tackle some of the most complex civil rights crises facing us today, our nation first needs complete, accurate, and disaggregated data to give us a full understanding of who is impacted and how situations are evolving. Data are necessary, even though not sufficient, to advance equity and justice.
Nowhere is that endeavor more clear than with the national decennial census. The U.S. Constitution places the census at the core of our democratic system of government by calling for a count of the nation’s population every 10 years. The census and the related American Community Survey provide information that is the cornerstone of knowledge about the American people.
Census data shape the future of our community and define our voices in Congress. It determines how more than $1.5 trillion in federal government resources are distributed each year; where schools, roads, and hospitals are built; how many congressional seats are apportioned among the states; and allocates political representation in Congress, statehouses, and local legislative bodies. When communities are missed in the census, they are deprived of equitable political representation and access to critical resources.
Counting every person residing in the United States is a difficult endeavor, and despite the Census Bureau’s best efforts, some households are missed by the count, some are counted more than once, and still others respond with incorrect information. However, because the accuracy of the census directly affects our nation’s ability to ensure equal representation and equal access to important governmental resources for all people in America, ensuring a fair and accurate census must be regarded as one of the most significant civil rights issues facing the country today.
Roadmap to the 2030 Census
As we make our way to 2030, there are a number of steps and milestones to achieve in preparation for the census. Our roadmap outlines best practices of the 2020 Census and the importance of engaging communities early for the next census count.
The Census Counts campaign, housed at The Education Fund, is a collaborative effort involving organizations that live and work in the communities most at risk of being missed in the census. Through education, training, organizing, and outreach, these organizers and advocates work to ensure that the hardest-to-count communities are counted in the census.
States COUNT Action Network
The States COUNT Action Network was established as a space to hold field strategy discussions and provide resources for the get-out-the-count (GOTC) phase of the 2020 Census. S-CAN, housed under Census Counts and jointly run with State Voices, consists of state and national groups with state affiliates that include advocacy organizations, direct service providers, and more. S-CAN continues to update members on the latest post-2020 Census operational developments and provide resources to prepare for the 2030 Census.
The data equity program is meeting the need to achieve better data collection policies by working to ensure that national and state partners have the information, strategies, and resources to yield more robust and inclusive data collection, analysis, and reporting and use that data to identify and remedy disparities that undermine equal opportunity and harm vulnerable communities.
Recently, we published “Data for Equity: A Review of Federal Agency Equity Action Plans,” the fourth in a series of reports from The Education Fund about civil rights data collection. “Data for Equity” builds on those earlier reports by making eight recommendations about how federal agencies can improve the collection, analysis, and sharing of data. Check out the series of reports below.
Data for Equity: A Review of Federal Agency Equity Action Plans ›
Information Nation: The Need for Federal Civil Rights Data Collection ›
Misinformation Nation: The Threat to America’s Federal Data and Civil Rights ›
Advancing state and federal policies for data disaggregation
Good data are necessary to advance equity and justice. In order to address inequalities in our society, we first need complete, accurate, and disaggregated data to give us a full understanding of who is impacted and how. Data disaggregation refers to the collection, reporting, and analysis of information on specific subgroups by race, ethnicity, and other characteristics. A lack of disaggregated data makes it impossible to quantify and compare the experiences and outcomes of different subgroups, particularly those that are historically and currently marginalized. Failure to collect data for specific subgroups may seem like a technical matter, but it has the effect, often intentional, of making it impossible to tackle a problem by disguising its existence or scope.
The Education Fund is working to advance federal and state policies as they relate to data disaggregation by race and ethnicity. Through the creation of a state and national advocacy infrastructure to engage stakeholders and policymakers on the need for disaggregated data, we will ensure the collection, analysis, and reporting of critical federal- and state-level data that will help to identify gaps in and achieve racial equity.