SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — What if you could earn $16,000 just by filling out a form? That’s essentially what happens when you take part in the 2020 Census. Each person who fills it out, earns his or her state $1,600 in federal money every year for ten years. That goes towards vital community programs. Now, a coalition is making sure everyone is counted.
KELOLAND News met with six women, but they represent so many individuals who make up South Dakota.
“South Dakota is definitely a melting pot. It’s starting to be. I see so many different people, I mean, we’re everywhere. We’re bankers, we’re insurance agents, we’re stay at home moms,” Yesenia Gonzalez, member of South Dakota Voices for Peace, said.
Thanks to a $10,000 grant from the South Dakota Community Foundation, the Peoples’ Count SD, Nuestra Gente Cuenta SD coalition will educate and connect with people about filling out the Census to count in the population.
“Someone not counted, we lose 16,000 dollars over ten years,” Taneeza Islam, executive director, said.
That federal money is important, because it pays for filling potholes, health care, school lunch programs, and many other community resources you may rely on.
“We help with the school lunches and with the backpack programs and the summer feeding program and that’s a huge lifeline for so many people and these dollars go toward that,” Karen Lundquist, CEO of EmBe and coalition member, said.
Islam says outreach to underrepresented minority communities is important. Last summer, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the Trump administration putting a citizenship question on this Census. However, Islam says some communities, including refugees and undocumented immigrants, still worry about the government tracking them.
“We have specific fears in our communities about filling out census paperwork or paperwork, so we’re really concentrating on disspelling those myths and fears,” Islam said.
The coalition will begin work this spring and summer. These women may represent many diverse communities, but Islam says it’s important for everyone to speak up for themselves in the 2020 Census.
“There is no better feeling than knowing that people who get counted get resources they can then use to have a better life,” Islam said.
South Dakota Voices for Peace plans to attend spring and summer community events to get the word out. The 2020 Census begins April 1st.