In preparation for the 2020 U.S. census, the secretary of the Commonwealth, the National League of Cities, and the U.S. Census Bureau are encouraging cities and towns to engage community stakeholders and form “complete count committees” as soon as possible.

These trusted voices can provide community-specific information and motivate residents. The Census Bureau offers direct support to complete count committees via partnership specialists.

Some complete count committees are being assembled regionally. The Berkshire Regional Planning Commission is leading a county-wide committee made up of more than 60 members split into nine subcommittees, with two focused on the cities of North Adams and Pittsfield. Through a regional committee, community stakeholders can focus on information and materials specific to their region and help smaller towns that often lack the resources to develop materials on their own.

The Berkshire Regional Complete Count Committee plans to distribute educational materials at local festivals and events, connect with each school district and distribute fliers during enrollment, distribute fliers in post office boxes and with applications for low-income heating assistance programs, and revamp federal and state materials to meet the needs of their communities.

Other communities, such as the cities of Chelsea, Chicopee, Framingham and Quincy, have formed their own complete count committees. Chicopee formed its committee in January and has been ramping up census preparations since then. The committee hopes to take steps to build awareness this fall, and seeks to develop information for specific segments of the city’s population. The committee plans to distribute fliers at community events and to ask Chicopee Electric Light to distribute education with electric bills.

A statewide listing of complete count committees is available at www.sec.state.ma.us/census2020/complete-count.html. The “2020 Census Complete Count Committee Guide and Training Manual” is available at census.gov/2020completecount, and additional information is available at nlc.org.census.

The 2020 federal census, a constitutionally mandated, decennial count of every individual in America and where they reside, will begin next spring. Data collected during the census determines federal funding for the state and its communities, representation in Congress, and each state’s number of Electoral College votes. The data also inform planning decisions at the local level, such as where to provide services for the elderly, build new roads and schools, or locate job training centers.

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