Why Does the Census Matter?
Every 10 years since 1790, the federal government has counted every person living in the United States, as required by the U.S. Constitution. The census affects elected representation in government, how much federal funding communities receive, and provides information for community planning and development. More than $675 billion in federal funds is distributed to communities based on census data. These funds go toward housing, education, transportation, employment, health care, and other local needs.
If a group is undercounted, a state, city, town, or school district will receive less funding, and students could lose access to critical programming and services. The data from the census could impact funding formulas used by these programs as soon as the 2021-22 school year and will continue to impact school funding for the next decade.
Children are the group most likely to not be counted in the census. Mississippi KIDS COUNT calculates that, for the next 10 years, Mississippi will lose, on average, $2,780 for every child not counted annually. Mississippi counties, based on their population size, could lose between $5,500 and $1.7 million annually if just 1% of children are not counted.
To ensure that all state and district programs that depend on federal funds receive the support needed to meet the demands of their communities, it is critical that all families complete the census.
Key Census Milestones
March 2020 — Households will receive a notice in the mail to complete the 2020 Census. The public can begin responding to the census online at 2020census.gov, or by mail or phone.
March 2-6, 2020 — Statistics in Schools Week: join in as schools across the nation teach about the importance of the 2020 Census.
April 2020 — April 1, 2020 is Census Day, an important reference day for the Census. The Census asks how many people are living in every household on April 1, 2020.
May 2020 — The U.S. Census Bureau will begin following up with households that have not responded to the census.
June 2020 through July 2020 — Official Census takers go door to door to count people who have not responded to the 2020 Census.
December 31, 2020 — By this date, as required by law, the U.S. Census Bureau reports to the President of the United States the population count and the apportionment of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives to each state.
2021 — Initial 2020 Census data are made available to the public on census.gov.
What Education Programs Are Affected by the Census?
Census responses drive decisions on the allocation of more than $675 billion in federal funds to states and communities, including support for programs and services such as:
- Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)
- IDEA Special education grants to states
- National School Lunch Program
- Child Care and Development Block Grants
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
- Head Start
- ESEA Title IV-A School Support and Academic Enrichment
- Class size reduction and teacher training under Title II of ESEA
- 21st Century Community Learning for after-school programs
- Funds for services that affect student readiness for learning also are affected, such as child health programs and assistance with housing, health care (Medicaid), heating, and food costs (SNAP and WIC).
2020 Census and Classroom Materials
Statistics in Schools (SIS) is a U.S. Census Bureau program that uses census statistics to create classroom materials for grades pre-K through 12. Teachers and subject matter experts nationwide helped develop each SIS activity to make sure it is valuable and engaging. The SIS program is available now and includes more than 200 activities and resources in a variety of subjects. You can find more information about SIS and search for activities by subject or grade level at: