The Montana Department of Commerce has detailed some of the increased 2020 Census outreach efforts made possible by statewide partners through funding allocated by Governor Steve Bullock from the Coronavirus Relief Fund. With 41 days remaining in the count, the state and partners are making final push to get a complete count of Montanans before September 30.
“An accurate count in the 2020 Census will help Montana get its fair share of federal funding, put our state in the best possible position to gain back a second seat in the U.S. House of Representatives and help us plan for the next ten years,” said Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney, who is the chair of the Montana Complete Count Committee.“With the deadline to respond to the Census fast approaching, the Montana Department of Commerce and statewide partners are all-hands-on-deck to ensure Montanans know the importance of being counted.”
Sharing $530,500 allocated from the Coronavirus Relief Fund, the partners have amplified their ongoing efforts to increase Montana’s 2020 Census count by reaching Montanans in hard-to-count areas of the state.
One of the partners, the Montana Nonprofit Association (MNA), has hired a rancher and former mayor in central Montana with field organizing experience to help reach local communities in low-responding rural counties. The statewide nonprofit organization also worked with the Montana Association of Counties to mail 52,000 post cards, including cards mailed on behalf of county governments, to low-response counties earlier this month. Additionally, MNA is working with state and tribal officials to design cards to mail to households on reservations in Montana.
Western Native Voice, along with Man Power, a local tribal organization, recently organized a drive-thru Census response station in Browning. The event added 200 residents to the 2020 Census count. Western Native Voice is in the process of hiring up to 50 organizers across the state to mobilize the Native count.
Additionally, the Forward Montana Foundation has hired six full-time employees to encourage college students and younger populations in Montana to respond to the 2020 Census. The Forward Montana Foundation expects to reach more than 40,000 young residents and students through targeted outreach efforts.
The U.S. Census Bureau suspended all field operations from March to early May to slow the spread of COVID-19, which put Montana’s response rate below the national average. The Census Bureau initially extended the deadline from July 31 to October 31 to respond to challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, but earlier this month, announced it will cut its 2020 Census count operations short by a month, to end on September 30.
While the federal government is tasked with counting all households every 10 years, the state supports the effort to educate and promote the importance of the Census.
An accurate and complete count of all Montanans is critical for determining the federal funding distributed to the state – overall, more than $2 billion from 300 federal programs is allocated back to Montana based on Census information. The Census count also shapes local voting and school districts, and it determines whether Montana will receive a second seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
To date, 57.5 percent of Montana households have self-responded to the Census. Montanans who have not yet responded to the 2020 Census can do so by going to MY2020CENSUS.GOV, by calling 1-844-330-2020, or by mailing in their Census form if they received one in the mail.