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Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Mayor de Blasio, Speaker Johnson, NYC Census 2020, CUNY, More Than 160 Community Partners Convene for Complete Count Campaign Kick-Off and Release of Campaign Plan

NY City Hall Press Office Photo

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives J. Phillip Thompson, NYC Census 2020 Director Julie Menin, Council Member Carlos Menchaca, Council Member Carlina Rivera, City University of New York (CUNY) Executive Vice Chancellor and University Provost José Luis Cruz, and hundreds of advocates, service providers, representatives from labor and major civic institutions, and city officials on Tuesday January 14, kicked off New York City's Complete Count Campaign, the nation's largest and most diverse coordinated municipal campaign to achieve a complete and accurate count in the 2020 Census.

“New York City has been on the front lines of the resistance against the Trump Administration and ensuring every New Yorker gets counted is central to that fight," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. "No matter how hard the federal government tries to silence our diverse voices, we still stand up and be counted.”

“A complete headcount in the 2020 Census is crucial for the future well-being of our city. We have to get this right to ensure we receive the proper federal funding for our schools, our roads, our health care, our public housing, and more. This is our once-in-a-decade opportunity to show the federal government that we are here, and that we count. The City Council pushed hard to make sure we allocated $40 million in the current budget for the efforts to count every New Yorker, because every New Yorker matters. Community-based organizations are our trusted partners in this effort and will ensure that we reach every community across the five boroughs. Let’s get a complete and accurate count and receive the federal funding we need and deserve,” said Council Speaker Corey Johnson.

With just eight weeks until New Yorkers can begin completing the census online for the first time starting March 12, 2020, Mayor de Blasio and NYC Census 2020 Director Julie Menin also announced that the City will invest $3 million in community and ethnic media advertising to ensure participation among the city's most historically undercounted communities. This figure represents the largest such investment by the City in local and community media for any campaign to date. The census campaign will be advertising in a minimum of 16 languages, including several languages spoken by New Yorkers with high levels of limited proficiency in English. 

About the NYC Complete Count Campaign Plan

The NYC Complete Count Campaign represents a historic and unprecedented partnership between a mayoral administration, the City Council, CUNY, and 157 community-based organizations across all five boroughs, as well as the city's three library systems, labor unions, and civic and private institutions of many types. Consisting of all these partners and supported by an overall joint $40 million investment by Mayor de Blasio and Speaker Johnson, the NYC Complete Count Campaign, collectively, is by far the largest and best-resourced census-focused municipal campaign in the nation. A majority of that funding, an unprecedented $23 million, will go towards community-based organizing and outreach, the largest such investment by any city in the nation.

The plan released today details how the campaign seeks to achieve a complete and accurate count of all New Yorkers in the 2020 Census by engaging in:

  • Targeted campaign-style organizing, with a focus on "Get Out The Count " activities in historically undercounted communities;
  • Aggressive earned media, paid media, and social media strategy featuring everyday New Yorkers and trusted community voices;
  • Deep collaboration across all sectors: city agencies, houses of worship, elected officials, employers, unions, and more;
  • Sophisticated data analysis and modern outreach tactics with new technologies to target outreach to priority neighborhoods, increase efficiency, and enable comparison to real-time self-response data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

New York City's Complete Count Campaign Plan has been conceptualized and drafted by a combination of government and community partners, namely NYC Census 2020, the City's census office, in coordination with the office's Citywide Partners, a network of 15 of the city's most trusted and effective advocacy, organizing, and service delivery organizations, in addition to CUNY. The organizations were discretionarily funded by the City Council in August 2019 at a total of $4 million to engage in census-related planning and organizing, and have worked hand-in-hand with NYC Census 2020 and the City Council on the creation and implementation of the Complete Count Campaign. 

These organizations are: 

  • Association for a Better New York (ABNY), 
  • Asian American Federation,
  • Asian Americans for Equality,
  • Brooklyn NAACP,
  • Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College, 
  • Chinese-American Planning Council, 
  • Community Resource Exchange,
  • FPWA, 
  • Hester Street, 
  • Hispanic Federation,
  • Make the Road — New York, 
  • New York Immigration Coalition, 
  • NALEO Educational Fund,
  • United Neighborhood House, 
  • The United Way of New York City. 

“Achieving a complete and accurate count of all New Yorkers in the 2020 Census is critical to maintaining and strengthening our democracy,” said J. Phillip Thompson, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives. “This unprecedented investment in both community-based organizations and community and ethnic media advertising will allow us to reach New Yorkers where they live and in the languages that they speak. It will also help ensure that we are engaging critically important but historically under-counted and under-represented communities in the Census by leveraging some of the most trusted voices within these communities.”

In kicking off the Campaign today, the City also convened more than 150 organizations that are recipients of the $19 million NYC Complete Count Fund (CCF), the largest community organizing program the City has ever built. Also unprecedented both in scope and structure, the CCF has been jointly funded by the de Blasio Administration and the Council, with leadership from Council Task Force Co-Chairs Carlos Menchaca and Carlina Rivera, and is being jointly administered by NYC Census 2020 and CUNY. The convening provides CCF recipients training from both campaign experts and community peers on best practices for community organizing, messaging and communications, integrating census awareness into social service delivery, and more. This integrated government-and-community training approach is a first for the City, and serves as the foundation for the City building an expansive and deep civic engagement infrastructure that is meant to outlast and grow beyond the census. 

Collectively, these organizations will be seamlessly integrated into NYC Census 2020's Neighborhood Organizing Census Committees (NOCCs) network, announced in September 2019. This integrated outreach program will recruit thousands of volunteers citywide to engage in local census-related outreach, with the ultimate goal of getting hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers to self-respond to the census, especially in historically undercounted communities. 

Volunteers will primarily engage in four organizing tactics: teach-ins, phone banking, "text-banking ," and community canvassing. More than 1,800 New Yorkers have already signed up as NOCC volunteers through NYC Census 2020's field operation. In addition to the NOCCs program, NYC Census 2020 and its partner organizations will recruit and train scores of trusted leaders to serve as "Census Ambassadors " who will help educate New Yorkers about the census at teach-ins and other community events.

About the NYC Complete Count Media Campaign

The 157 organizations that make up the NYC Complete Count Fund recipients serve all 245 New York City neighborhoods in more than 80 languages. Built on the understanding that local community-based organizations are the most trusted messengers of important and sensitive information, the Complete Count Fund is designed to resource and train organizations to build awareness about the importance of the census and fight the spread of misinformation and disinformation. Their community-facing work will be complemented by a multilingual $8 million advertising campaign that will feature innovative, responsive, and multilingual advertising and marketing that will broadcast targeted messages via a diverse array of platforms. The City's $3 million investment in ethnic and community advertising reflects the need to reach historically undercounted populations. Advertising will take place in a minimum of 16 languages, including the top languages spoken by limited English proficiency New Yorkers.

What's at Stake for New York City in the 2020 Census

Resources for New York City families and communities depend on a complete count of the City's residents. The census determines New York City's fair share of hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funds that support public education, public housing, roads and bridges, and more. The census also determines the number of seats each state is allocated in the House of Representatives, and thus the Electoral College. An undercount could cost the State of New York up to two congressional seats, significantly weakening the power of New York's voice in Washington. 

In 2010, New York City's initial self-response rate was approximately 15 percentage points less than the national average, and the U.S. Census Bureau is currently estimating that the New York area's self-response rate could be as low as 58 percent in 2020. The U.S. Census Bureau also recently published its final 2019 Census Test report, which showed that there would have likely been lower census responses from Asian and Latinx populations if a citizenship question had been included. 

About NYC Census 2020
NYC Census 2020 was established as a first-of-its-kind organizing initiative by Mayor de Blasio in January 2019 to ensure a complete and accurate count of all New Yorkers in the 2020 Census. The program is built on four pillars: (1) a community-based awards program, The New York City Complete Count Fund; (2) an in-house "Get Out the Count" field campaign that is supported by the smart use of data and technology; (3) an innovative, multilingual, tailored messaging and marketing campaign; as well as (4) an in-depth Agency and Partnerships engagement plan that seeks to leverage the power of the City's 350,000-strong workforce and the city's major institutions, including libraries, hospitals, faith-based, cultural institutions, higher educational institutions, and more, to communicate with New Yorkers about the critical importance of census participation.

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