Be Counted: Detroit kicks off 2020 census campaign

On Monday, April 1, 2019, a broad coalition of community groups and the City of Detroit kicked off the Be Counted Detroit: Census 2020 campaign. Be Counted Detroit, an effort led by the City of Detroit, will use grassroots, media and digital tools to engage people of all ages and backgrounds and build partnerships with nearly 100+ nonprofits, business and labor, community and faith-based institutions, immigrant organizations and more.

The 2020 Census could not be more critical for Detroit. Detroit’s census numbers will determine how much federal funding the city will receive for programs like Medicare/ Medicaid, food assistance, head start, funding for schools, road repairs, special education and much more. The City lost hundreds of millions of dollars as a result of the 2010 census effort, which had no city budget to support it. That year, Detroit saw the largest drop in participation among all major American cities, going from a 70% participation rate in 2000 to 64% in 2010.

For every person that is missed in the Census, Detroit will lose an estimated $1,800 in federal funding every year for the next decade. Victoria Kovari, executive director of the Detroit 2020 census campaign, says “The City of Detroit is determined to count everyone and is launching an aggressive media and grassroots outreach campaign to educate and motivate Detroiters around the Census.”

Massive Hiring Effort

Detroit At Work has partnered with the U.S. Census Bureau to hire more than 2,000 workers as census enumerators, canvassers and office staff.

Starting this summer, Be Counted Detroit will launch its own hiring effort and will hire Detroiters to serve as neighborhood census ambassadors, census canvassers and outreach leaders. To learn more, visit

Census information to kept confidential

The campaign also will emphasize how, under federal law, any information gathered in the Census cannot be used for any other purpose or shared with any other government agency, law enforcement, private company, courts or individuals.

The aim is to reassure everyone living in the United States, regardless of their immigration status, that information shared with Census workers is confidential and won’t be misused. “There is nothing more important than ensuring that every Detroiter stand up and be counted during the Census,” Mayor Duggan said. “By law, Census information is kept confidential. It doesn’t matter what your immigration status is. It doesn’t matter where your car is registered. All that matters is whether you are living in Detroit on April 1, 2020. And if the answer is yes, fill out your Census form and be counted in Detroit.”

U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Detroit said the 2020 Census requires “all hands on deck from every level of government and every corner of our communities to ensure every person is counted.”

“I applaud the city of Detroit for taking the initiative to push for a comprehensive count, and I encourage all stakeholders to use innovative and inclusive methods to reach undercounted communities,” Congresswoman Tlaib said. “The Census is about representation, it’s about making sure our people are seen, and it’s about getting our communities the resources we need. I’m so glad to be a part of this push.”

100 assistance centers to bridge digital divide

Historically, the Census has disproportionately undercounted people of color, immigrants, young children and people living in poverty or homelessness. Additionally, the 2020 Census will be the first census to rely heavily on online responses, leaving those without internet access at risk of being undercounted.

That’s why the City of Detroit will be establishing more than 100 locations across Detroit where people can go to get help or access computers to fill out their Census form online. Census forms will still be available by paper and can be completed by phone. “Michigan and Detroit play a significant and important role in obtaining a complete and accurate count in the 2020 Census,” said Char Yates, spokesperson for the U.S. Census Bureau’s regional office in Chicago. “It is very important that Detroit receives its share of Census dollars, which will assist with the continued growth and prosperity of this important city. Our goal is to count everyone once, only once, and in the right place.” To sign up to participate, go to census.

Be Counted Detroit 2020 partners
Quicken Loans Community Investment Fund
Ridge Lane
Second Ebenezer Church
Service Employees International Union
SER Metro
Skillman Foundation
Southwest Business Association
The People’s Action
Unite HERE
United Way for Southeastern Michigan
Wayne Metro Community Action Agency
Wayne State University
WDIV-TV Local 4

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