The Washington state legislature took a huge step to secure more funding for schools, roads and hospitals by investing $15 million to support an accurate 2020 census count. As one of the fastest growing states over the past decade, an accurate count in Washington would ensure that our rapidly growing state gets our fair share of federal dollars and political representation.
“Our country’s legacy of excluding people of color and rural communities extends to the Census,” said Patricia Whitefoot, community leader, enrolled member of the Yakama Tribe in Toppenish Washington, and member of the Yakama Yakima El Censo 2020 Coalition. “Legislators are sending a bold message by supporting an accurate count, that all of our communities deserve to be counted, no exceptions. Together, we will all benefit.”
The allocation of $15 million for Census outreach is an impressive first victory for the newly formed Washington Census Alliance. The group, made up of over 70 organizations led by people of color, formed to make sure families and neighbors are counted, despite Trump administration efforts to weaken the 2020 Census.
“1.6 million Washingtonians were at risk of being left out of the 2020 census count due to underfunding and fear-mongering from Washington D.C. Our communities and elected officials stepped up to make sure this once-in-a-decade opportunity will benefit all corners of the state,” said Michael Byun, Executive Director of Asian Counseling and Referral Services (ACRS).
Funding will be distributed to community organizations across the state to improve census participation among historically undercounted populations. Trusted messengers and community based organizations are the best positioned to work with those who face barriers to participating in the census because they have the relationships, language skills and cultural capacity to ensure an accurate count. These groups include people of color, English language learners, Native Americans, and those living and working in rural areas of the state.
“This amazing win for our state shows what we can achieve when we stand up alongside our neighbors,” said Ophelia Noble, community activist and founder of the Noble Foundation in Southwest Washington. “Whether we’re black, white, or brown, come from immigrant roots, or are native to this land – everyone will benefit because an accurate census count means more resources for things we all depend on.”