In an effort to ensure northeast Michigan gets an accurate count in the upcoming 2020 census, Community Foundation for Northeast Michigan (CFNEM) has signed on as the nonprofit census hub for the region. CFNEM is the lead foundation for the local Straits Area Community Foundation (SACF), whose service area includes Cheboygan County, Mackinaw City, and extends to Bois Blanc Island.
The United States Constitution requires the residential population of the country to be counted every 10 years, with the next census set for April 2020. A complete and accurate count is vital for all communities, including northeast Michigan.
“Some of the historically hard-to-count populations are served in some way by a number of our local nonprofits,” said CFNEM Executive Director Patrick Heraghty. “Those organizations will be key players in the effort to increase awareness of the importance of census participation, for our state and locally.”
Heraghty added that because of its strong relationships with nonprofits serving the region, CFNEM is uniquely positioned to act as a convener, outreach vehicle, and grantmaker. He says it is through those relationships, and those of its affiliate foundations (Iosco County Community Foundation, North Central Michigan Community Foundation, and Straits Area Community Foundation), that the hub can reach every corner of the region.
According to the Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA), on average, it is expected that 16% of northeast Michigan’s population will not be counted. Researchers estimate that for every person not counted, communities will lose about $1,800 per year in federal funds. That means that over a ten-year period, $18,000 per person would be lost in funding for our communities.
While CFNEM officials do not know specific amounts yet, a portion of funding from the MNA’s Nonprofits Count Campaign will be allocated to CFNEM to provide grants for nonprofits in its nine-county service area that can help northeast Michigan residents to be counted.
“Nonprofits are typically trusted by those who utilize their services, and they are well-positioned to help reach the hard-to-count populations,” said Heraghty. “CFNEM’s role as the census hub will provide strategic and financial support for organizations to increase awareness about the census, and possibly even help individuals and households to be counted. These efforts will strengthen the possibility of a complete count in northeast Michigan communities.”
Historically, some populations – including low-income households, immigrants, the homeless, and young children – have been undercounted in the census. Undercounts happen for many reasons. People may not understand the census, may not trust the government, or may not want to share their information. Whatever the reason people don’t participate, undercounts deprive communities of necessary resources and representation.
For the first time, census data will be collected primarily online. This new format may make it even harder for people without reliable internet access to participate. This is of particular concern in northeast Michigan, as a large number of residences are without online access.
CFNEM’s role as the census hub for northeast Michigan will include the formation and convening of an advisory committee, as well as grants to local nonprofits to help build awareness and encourage participation in the 2020 Census.
Census data is used to distribute funding for road repairs, federally funded health care programs, school improvements, housing and other critical social programs. Nonprofit organizations, businesses, and governments use census data to identify community needs and evaluate solutions to difficult problems. The number and distribution of elected officials are also based on census data; and as it stands, Michigan faces the potential loss of a Congressional seat.
The work of this hub is supported by the state-wide Census 2020 Michigan Nonprofits Count Campaign, managed by the Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA) in partnership with the Council of Michigan Foundations (CMF).