The Constitution requires the federal government to collect census data every 10 years. The census provides an official count of the United States’ population and information about important demographic changes over a 10-year period. Population amounts are used to ensure states are being fairly represented, both in the allotment of federal dollars and in the number of congressional districts. The data collected helps to determine the distribution of federal funding to states for numerous programs aimed at helping underserved communities. These federal funds make up large portions of state budgets, with the majority of the dollars going toward programs such as Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and the Highway Planning and Construction Program. The census is also used to guide decision making by federal, state, and local governments; philanthropy; and businesses in determining where resources should be directed and how efforts should be evaluated.
Low participation in the 2020 Census could have substantial negative consequences for Missouri. Missouri receives approximately $11.2 billion annually in federal funds, which are directly calculated from census data. In fact, for every person undercounted, Missouri forfeits an estimated $1,272 in federal dollars. Achieving a complete count will already be a challenge for many areas across Missouri, with 9 percent of the population living in hard-to-count communities during the 2010 census. Households most at risk of being undercounted include those who are low-income, renters, people of color, young children, and immigrants. The new online census platform also presents hardships for the roughly 20 percent of Missouri households that lack access to broadband or high-speed internet services. This poses a significant concern for rural residents and older adults who are less likely to have broadband in their homes. The development of an effective and consistent messaging campaign for Missouri is vital to ensuring we have a complete and accurate count in the 2020 Census.
Description of Services Required
The purpose of this Request for Proposals (RFP) is to engage a strategic communications consultant to develop, implement, and manage a 14-month census messaging campaign.
The selected consultant will be expected to work closely with Missouri Foundation for Health staff, polling consultants, cross-sector stakeholders, and coalitions throughout the MFH service region to coordinate and align efforts. The consultant should have extensive knowledge of and have strong relationships with a wide network of media outlets throughout Missouri, as well as with key Missouri stakeholders who represent and/or understand hard-to-count communities. Missouri Foundation for Health will be working with a polling firm to conduct rural public opinion research and limited message testing for this project.
The strategic communications consultant should plan to work in collaboration with that consultant through October.
The goals of the messaging campaign are to:
• Develop effective and consistent strategic messaging that will encourage and inform about the importance of participating in Census 2020, with a particular focus on Missouri’s hard-to-count populations
• Amplify the reach of key messaging by engaging new and existing partners, grantees, and communities throughout MFH’s service region to develop buy-in and materials appropriate for various audiences
• Mobilize Missourians, across various sectors and communities, to participate in the 2020 Census and to encourage complete count activities