One of American democracy’s core tenets is the guarantee that everyone deserves equal representation in our government. This guarantee is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and reinforced every 10 years with a meticulous count of the nation’s population: the census.

The census has serious practical consequences, as well: It’s the basis on which more than $1 trillion in government funding is distributed, including for vital programs such as Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Head Start. The data is used for key planning decisions, such as where to build new schools, hospitals and roads. And many industries use the information to make business decisions based on demographic changes.

But this year, the prospect of being counted is fraught for many. The specter of the collection of citizenship data, along with the largely online nature of this year’s census, means an undercount is not only possible, but likely. Since 2017, the U.S. Government Accountability Office has continued to find the 2020 census a high-risk issue. The GAO cites the lack of sufficient staffing, inadequate development of IT systems and security protocols, and skyrocketing costs as impediments to an accurate and secure count.

Seeing 2020, a nationwide collaborative reporting initiative from Reveal, seeks to empower local and ethnic media outlets to report on the census. Our project has three goals:

  • Understand what local communities want to know about the census through a multipronged, multipartner listening initiative.
  • Help local reporters inform their audiences so they can make educated decisions about participation in the census.
  • Track and explain how the census’ potential implementation flaws might lead to disempowerment and disenfranchisement down the road.

Partnering with the Center for Cooperative Media, we will provide Seeing 2020 participants with training and webinars, assistance with community engagement efforts, access to an exclusive tip repository to seed stories, access to experts, channels to facilitate collaboration with other reporters, opportunities to publish your work on Reveal and small reporting stipends.

To join the Seeing 2020 Census Reporting Network, please fill out this form and select “Seeing 2020 Reporting Network.”

Join the Network

Stories from our Seeing 2020 network:

Got questions about how the 2020 census will affect your community? Ask them using the form below.

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