Networks Northwest Working to Increase Census Participation to Secure More Federal Funding for Communities

Every person counts, and that’s especially true of the U.S. Census.

There is strength in numbers, and money, too.

The once-a-decade survey from the federal government counts population and also is used to measure how much funding to allocate to local infrastructure, like schools and road repairs.

Every Michigan Census is worth $1800 in funding for local programming.

A lot is at stake, which is why Networks Northwest wants to help communities that traditionally have low survey participation.

They’re partnering with nonprofits in ten counties to spread the word about participating.

“It’s important to be counted so we can get all the funding and all the support that northwest Michigan deserves,” said Kathy Egan, Networks Northwest manager of community development. “We want to make sure that we don’t leave anyone behind.”

Historically, low income communities and families have been under-counted in the survey. There are many reasons people do not participate, including distrust in government, hesitancy to share personal information, or misunderstanding about the importance of the Census.

For example, in Kalkaska County, just 53% of people responded to the 2010 Census.

“The Census translates into federal monies to help fund road repairs, schools, health programs and other social programs across the board,” said Egan.

In Northern Michigan, some summer home owners do not get the survey because they are out of town.

“A lot of seasonal residents may not be counted here or anywhere else,” said Egan.

The campaign will provide nonprofits with Census outreach tactics, help them find undercounted people, as well as grants to coordinate efforts. Egan says the program will start in August.

Nonprofits interested in grants to coordinate Census grants can contact Networks Northwest. Monies will be available to serve Antrim, Benzie, Charlevoix, Emmet, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Leelanau, Manistee, Missaukee and Wexford counties.

The Census will be sent out in April 2020.