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West Virginia aims to aid 2020 Census effort

CHARLESTON — A statewide public awareness campaign to ensure everyone is counted in the 2020 U.S. Census will launch 11 a.m. Monday at the Covenant House in Charleston.

The CountMeInWV Coalition represents more than 20 community, professional, service and advocacy organizations in West Virginia and was created to reach the state’s hardest-to-count populations. The coalition identifies rural areas, seniors, communities of color, college students and families with children under 5 as the most difficult.

Census data determines the allocation of more than $6 billion of federal money spent in West Virginia every year.

West Virginia receives $2,755 in federal funding per capita based on Census information. In addition to the funding, congressional districts and number of representatives are determined by the count.

“An accurate Census count, which guides billions of dollars in federal funds into our communities each year, must be a top priority,” said Kelly Allen, director of policy engagement with the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy. “This coalition was formed out of the imperative need to count every West Virginian, and we hope that others will join us and that state policymakers will see the importance in funding Census outreach efforts.”

Monday’s event will highlight the coalition’s message that the 2020 Census is easy, safe and important to West Virginians.

Among coalition members are West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition, KidsCount, West Virginia State NAACP, Covenant House, U.S. Census Bureau and West Virginia State University Social Work Department.

“This coalition is vital because it’s going to take all of us to make sure West Virginia counts in the 2020 Census,” said Jennifer Wells, executive director of West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition. “With partners and friends who have been on the ground across the state for years, we will center communities and community leaders in getting the count out so they can receive the resources we all need to grow.”

The coalition will explain to people that the 2020 Census form is easy, safe and important. It consists of 10 questions that will take about 10 minutes to complete.

The information gathered is protected by federal law and information on specific individuals or households cannot be made available to other agencies or authorities.

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