Pride Center awarded state grant for Census count

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Pride Center of New Jersey logo 2020
Pride Center of New Jersey logo

$50K in funding will help engage hard-to-count populations in the Census 

A new grant-funded project is a coordinated, county-wide effort that strives to increase Census participation rates for the LGBTQ community. Every New Jersey resident must be counted, as more than $23 billion is at stake in federal funds. An under-count will result in less funding for the state and fewer representatives in Congress. New Jersey has lost three congressional seats since 1980.

The program grant is called LGBT Census T.E.A.M. (Targeted Education and Awareness to Multidimensional populations). The U.S. Census counts the residents of the United States every 10 years, but not everyone responds to it. In 2010, for example, fewer than 60% of New Brunswick residents were counted, say some stakeholders. LGBTQ individuals are considered part of a hard to count population. Others include African-Americans, Latinos/Latinx, Asians, nonnative English speakers, college students, young children, men 18-49, the incarcerated, and the elderly.

Members of these communities may be wary of responding to the Census. Some are fearful due to their immigration status, concern about legal reprisal, or a fear of government in general. However, “By law, your census responses cannot be used against you by any government agency or court in any way—not by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, not by the Central Intelligence Agency, not by the Department of Homeland Security, and not by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement,” states the Census.gov website.

Mark McSpirit, president of The Pride Center of NewJersey, stated, “The project will launch a targeted outreach campaign that capitalizes on the trusted name The Pride Center has built within the LGBTQ+ community since its founding 25 years ago. It will educate the public about the importance of being counted.”

The center will collaborate alongside other local LGBT and ally nonprofits in finding the hard to count individuals. It will engage in a campaign to educate the public, encourage participation, as well as establish a Community Census Support Center at the Pride Center where visitors can log in and file with the Census electronically.

For more information about the PCNJ visit, pridecenter.org/