What’s one thing you can do in less than 10 minutes that can have a big impact on our community for the next 10 years? Complete the 2020 Census for your household.

Much like voting, participating in the census is our civic duty. It’s outlined in the Constitution, and the U.S. has been conducting the decennial census since 1790. It’s not only part of our past, but it also has an influence on the trajectory of our futures. While it may not be apparent, the census has an impact on our daily lives.

Hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding are allocated based on census data. That funds things we all use, such as roads, bridges, hospitals and schools. The funding is also allocated for programs to help everyone thrive, for example, programs for mental health, Head Start, programs for veterans, health care, special education grants, school lunch programs, AmeriCorps and so much more.

It’s important to be counted to ensure that we are represented properly. The census is used to redraw boundaries for city wards and county districts, as well as congressional and state legislative districts to account for population shifts. Census data is also used to determine how many seats each state gets in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Our future economy and job market can be affected by census responses. Many businesses use census data to help them decide where to grow and build stores, restaurants, factories and offices. New businesses in our community would mean more jobs for our residents.

Filling out the census for your household can also be helpful for our local service organizations. Many of the nonprofits in our community use census data to apply for grants and to assess the growth of the community they serve.

For every person in our community who doesn’t complete the census, we lose approximately $1,300 per person, per year for 10 years. That amounts to $13,000 per person, which can have a big effect on our community.

If you’ve already filled out the 2020 Census for your household, you are making a difference. If you haven’t completed it yet, there is still time.

The U.S. Census Bureau will be collecting responses until Sept. 30. There are currently census takers in our community visiting households that have not yet completed the census, but you can still fill out the form online at my2020census.gov or by phone at 844-330-2020.

Make sure you don’t miss this opportunity to shape our community for the next 10 years.

Columbia and Boone County have a partnership called Boone County Counts to promote the census. Follow the efforts of the Boone County Counts partnership on Facebook and Instagram at @BooneCountyCounts or on the website at BooneCountyCounts.com.

Sara Humm is a community relations specialist for the city of Columbia working in the city manager’s office. She leads the local outreach for the 2020 Census.

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