Every 10 years, the United States conducts a census, the results of which determine the number of congressional representatives, informs how congressional districts are drawn, and dictates how federal funds will be distributed within each state. The 2020 census opened on April 1.
Billions of dollars in federal funding will be determined by the census, and that money funds programs such as Medicaid, financial aid, school lunches and highway construction. SPC President Dr. Tonjua Williams is encouraging all faculty and staff at St. Petersburg College to be counted.
“It’s a population count, but many important services and projects flow from it,” Williams said. “Our college’s funding depends on the number of people counted in the county, and an undercount can cause us to lose federal money that provides assistance and support to our students, faculty, staff and community.”
Though some are wary of being counted, the census is confidential and it would be illegal for anyone’s answers to be held against them. Director of SPC’s Center for Civic Learning & Community Engagement Tara Newsom stressed the importance – and the civic requirement – of taking part in the census.
“This is an important and necessary commitment from every citizen,” Newsom said. “Some questions may seem personal, but the answers help the federal government plan policies that help us all. This is especially important for undercounted populations. SPC is committed to having everyone count!”
The census asks for basic information, including name, age, sex, race and ethnicity, but does not ask for any sensitive data such as social security numbers. It can be completed online, usually in less than 10 minutes.
Pinellas County – and St. Petersburg College – need you to help shape the future by taking a few moments to go online at my2020census.gov and complete the census. On May 27, census takers will begin visiting homes that haven’t responded in order to try to make sure everyone is counted.
The 2010 census missed an estimated 2 percent of the nation’s black population, 1.5 percent of the Latino population, and one million kids under the age of 5. Newsom says that besides being required by law, census reporting is an essential tool for democracy.
“So many people feel like they don’t count,” she said. “But here’s a chance for everyone to have representation.”