Civic Engagement in the Time of Coronavirus

Nov 5, 2021

The Jefferson Counts 2020 Census Campaign was first launched in February of 2019 with early support from the Foundation Grants Committee and the Collaborative Vision Council and with the understanding that an accurate Census Count would ensure essential resources, fair representation, and accurate data for the next decade. With guidance from our Jefferson Counts Leadership Team, support from 75 community champion organizations, coordination by Civic Engagement PULSE Fellow Amy Wisseman, and $66,200 in mini-grants from the Foundation, the Jefferson Counts Campaign involved a mass effort to provide community organizations with education, training and resources to ensure that everyone – especially residents in historically underrepresented communities – was counted. Despite many challenges posed to outreach by the COVID-19 pandemic and changing deadlines, Allegheny County’s self-response rate exceeded the 2010 self-response rate and 99.9% of Pennsylvania households were enumerated. Jefferson communities lagged behind 2010 self-response rates by an average of 3%, very likely due to the pandemic, but with so many hard to serve communities in the Jefferson area there is no doubt outreach through the campaign was effective. Enthusiasm for civic engagement remains strong with 90% of groups expressing interest in staying involved with future policy and engagement efforts.

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