Sept. 30 is our final deadline for the 2020 census. I urge Oklahomans to rally hard until the end. Currently, we are in the bottom 10 states for response.
While I continue to be disappointed in the response rate, it is not for lack of effort. More than a year before the census began on April 1, nonprofits and the Department of Commerce were busily preparing us for the census.
By the end of the year, we had a strong statewide complete count committee, a nonprofit complete count committee and a count committee in ever county. That’s a lot of counting.
The census officially opened up on March 12, but by March 17 – the onset of COVID-19 – the news cycle would be dominated by the pandemic, pushing the census to the side. This was one of a few of the many issues that have challenged our census work in 2020.
Many populations in Oklahoma have been repeatedly undercounted in the past. This includes Black and Indigenous populations in Oklahoma. Additionally, rural populations, the Latinx population, other minorities and various neighborhoods in our urban areas have lacked participation. We knMany populations in Oklahoma have been repeatedly undercounted in the past. This includes Black and Indigenous populations. Additionally, rural populations, the Latin population, other minorities and various neighborhoods in our urban areas have lacked participation.
We also had few to no resources to underwrite this work. There was no allocation from the state. The Department of Commerce found funds to develop a robust campaign but lacked resources to purchase advertising space. Our nonprofits were not well-funded for the work, but prioritized it anyway. We know that these will be lessons learned going forward.
I would especially like to thank our colleagues at the Department of Commerce led by Secretary Sean Kouplen and Director Brent Kisling. Their teams worked around the clock in the most unorthodox of circumstances to make this census happen. I’d like to thank our nonprofits, especially Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy and the Oklahoma Policy Institute, for their tireless efforts. And I’d like to thank you. If you filled out your census, thank you. If you helped someone else fill it out, a double thank-you.
And now I ask one more task – please ask everyone you know if they’ve filled out the census during September. It’s so important for the federal funding to the state. As we have seen with COVID-19, it will be doubly important to ensure enough federal dollars come to Oklahoma.
Marnie Taylor is president and CEO of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits. She can be reached at 405-463-6886, ext. 201, or .