Promoting an Accurate Census Count as We Count Our Blessings


It’s Thanksgiving time, and for many of us that means unplugging from the stress of our everyday lives, stuffing ourselves with the very best of home cooking, and hanging out with the people that we love (who might also drive us a little crazy). But while you’re spending time with friends and family this holiday season, losing count of exactly how many helpings of mashed potatoes you’ve devoured, try to spare a minute to talk about a count we can’t afford to get wrong – the 2020 Census. You might be laughing to yourself, thinking about how you avoid all mention of politics at the family dinner table. However, what many of you may not know is that there’s nothing political about the census, and it’s incredibly important to our state that we get an accurate count. To put it simply, the 2020 Census will help define the future of Missouri for the next 10 years.

1940 Census in Alaska
A census taker collects information in Fairbanks, Alaska during the 1940 Census. The dog musher stands out of earshot to ensure confidentiality.

The census provides an official count of the U.S. population and is used to determine how federal funding is allocated. For every Missourian that goes uncounted, our state will lose $1,300 in federal dollars every year. That’s $13,000 per person over the next decade. Those are funds that we won’t get for our roads and bridges, hospitals, and schools.

Not only is the census responsible for dictating where federal funds go, it’s essential to our very democracy. Census data are what the government uses to determine fair representation for states. In 2010, Missouri lost a seat in Congress as a result of the last census. Moving forward, we can’t risk losing another voice for our state in Washington, D.C.

In addition to helping us build a strong economy and democracy, census data also provide the basis for decision-making by the government, philanthropy, and businesses alike. For example, when companies want to determine where to open a new location or enter a new market, they rely in part on census data. When I travel across the state, I constantly hear communities speak about the importance of business development for local revenue growth. If we’re serious about stimulating our economy, whether at the state or local level, we need to prioritize efforts to get out the count.

As a Foundation, we’re working with our partners across various sectors and throughout Missouri to coordinate efforts to ensure every adult and every child is counted. I encourage you to check out our 2020 Census website – Missouri Counts. There you’ll find helpful materials such as a message guide, social media toolkit, factsheet, and a short video. But even easier than that, just mentioning the upcoming census to your loved ones and reminding them of its importance is a small act that can make a big difference.

The census is built into the U.S. Constitution and has happened every 10 years since 1790. An accurate count is something we all can get behind, no matter your (or your weird cousin’s) political leanings. As we head into the holiday season, see if you can raise awareness about how #MissouriCounts within your network of friends, family, and neighbors. After all, the more we have to be thankful for this season, the more we should be doing to ensure a more prosperous future for all Missourians.