While Census counting officially ended in October, the 2020 Census is far from over. In addition to pending litigation, important data processing and tabulation are currently underway as the Census Bureau prepares the data to be shared with the President of the United States. At Every Texan, we are reflecting back on our work to ensure a complete and accurate count in Texas.
The 2020 Census matters. At Every Texan, we knew what was at stake if Texas were to experience an undercount, so we hit the ground running early to ensure a complete and accurate count. We consistently highlighted that an accurate census count was critical for our voice, our quality of life, and our businesses in Texas. We worked through the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Kids Count campaign to highlight why an accurate census count matters for kids. Specifically, we highlighted the special challenges around counting young Latino children. We also fought against efforts to add an unconstitutional question to the Census about citizenship status to ensure our immigrant communities felt safe and empowered to respond to the questionnaire.
We took our work to the next level by encouraging cities and counties to set up their own Complete Count Committees to lead robust get-out-the-count (GOTC) efforts in their communities. We took our advocacy efforts to the Capitol and worked closely with legislators to advocate for the formation of a state-sponsored Complete Count Committee during the 86th Legislative Session. Unfortunately, the bill did not pass. Without an active state-sponsored Complete Count Committee (CCC), there was an unprecedented need for leaders across Texas to actively engage and support an accurate count in Texas.
With a mutual understanding of the importance of an accurate count, Every Texan joined forces with the Communities Foundation of Texas (CFT) to create the Texas Counts Campaign and Pooled Fund to empower leaders across the state to lead GOTC efforts. Last November, the Texas Counts Campaign and Pooled Fund launched in an effort to be a partner, connector, and hub for folks engaging in the 2020 Census. With humble beginnings, we transformed from a small coalition of a few dozen partners to engaging a network of thousands of Census Champions. With growth, we learned that our success was closely tied to meeting the needs of Census Champions on the ground. We strived to be adaptable, informed, and accessible to ensure they had the information and resources they needed to engage their communities.
In March, our lives were turned upside down with the spread of COVID-19. While we made sense of our new reality, getting out the count became harder. Initial plans and strategies fell to the wayside as communities hurt and reeled from the social and economic effects of the pandemic. Every Texan needed to pivot the strategy of the Texas Counts campaign to ensure Census Champions felt informed and equipped to lead GOTC efforts during these unprecedented times. In adversity, perseverance, compassion, and ingenuity shone through. The Texas Counts Campaign and its members created new strategies to reach out to communities, shared personal stories about the importance of the Census, learned new skills and ideas from each other, and ensured to the best of our ability our communities were counted.
We are honored, humbled, and grateful that so many people trusted Texas Counts. By the end of the count, we had over 1,000 Census Champions in our network. Our Champions attended over 100 Texas Counts events and led over 60 events through the Texas Counts Virtual Road Trip. We engaged hundreds of Texans each week through our Texas Counts Census Updates, newsletters, and virtual events to support GOTC efforts. Over 22,000 minutes of updates, events, and trainings were viewed by thousands of Texans over the course of the campaign.
With deepest gratitude, we are thankful to our partners and funders, Ann Beeson, Cassie Davis, Jamie Turcios-Villata, Cindy Ji, business and faith leaders, grassroots leaders, local officials, Census Bureau staff, and our Census Champions who were passionate and committed to the 2020 Census — and had a huge impact on the self-response rate in Texas.