2020 Census Highlights

As part of our efforts to strengthen democracy, in NC Campus Compact helped mobilize our member institutions to ensure a complete 2020 Census count in North Carolina. We provided information and funding to support this work throughout the state.  This is the archived page of these efforts. 

2020 Census Engagement Fellows (CEF)

NC Campus Compact, in partnership with the NC Counts Coalition,  sponsored Census Fellows at 11 member colleges and universities. The Fellows targeted communities historically identified as hard-to-count communities to ensure they have the information they need to complete and submit their Census form. This program complemented the state-wide efforts of the NC Complete Count Commission and the NC Counts Coalition.

Program highlightsMeet the Fellows

Below is the video the Fellows created.

#MakeNCCount Video Contest

We also partnered with the NC Counts Coalition to sponsor the #MakeNCCount Video Contest. These videos, targeting college students, provide information about the census in creative and fun ways. There were two categories for contest submissions: Informational and Inspirational. Each winner received a cash prize. The winners were:

  • 1st place Informational category: Deja Mayfield, North Carolina A&T State University
  • 2nd place Informational category: Love Cesar, NC A & T State University
  • Inspirational category winner: Lauren Bagby, Winston-Salem State University

 Learn more and view the videos

Information Sharing

In addition to this website, during the summer regional Network Meetings we hosted NC Counts Executive Director, Stacey Carless. She will also present during the NC College Voter Summit on September 20.

NOTICE!!! As of August 3rd, the deadline has been moved up to September 30. Read the official statement from the Census Bureau.
Update on Counting College Students (July 2020)

College Student Group Quarters Enumeration has expanded to include both on-campus (e-response, paper data collection, etc.) and off-campus students (a different digital method called SWIM). For off-campus students, Census is only collecting directly information which is just 3 data points: name, DOB and off-campus address where they lived April 1st. Since they are not collecting all 10 data points, they are still asking students to self-respond for their April 1st address so it collects ALL the data points. The Census Bureau will match on the backend. The Press Release on June 18, 2020 states this new off-campus process, including a sample letter sent to campuses mid-June. Check with your campus Census contact or the Presidents office to see if this letter has been received.  

For up-to-date information on the census, visit the Group Quarters page. Consider becoming part of the Students Learn Student Vote Census Working Group by contacting Marissa Corrente.  Check out the group’s Google Folder.

Other useful links:

NC Counts Website (organization leading the get-out-the-count efforts in North Carolina)

Up-to-date Response Rates

Response Rates Challenge Tool Kit

Faith Communities & the Census Guide

Information on Counting Young Children

Historically under counted communities

Interesting facts, true stories, and how-to guides

The Census Bureau created this video to explain how college students are to be counted despite the current pandemic (released 3/23/20)


A Census 2020 Knowledge Hub was created on the national Campus Compact website with essential information and resources about the 2020 Census for institutions of higher education. 

Here are a few resources with quick overviews explaining the census.

U.S. Census Bureau What is the Census?
Brennan Center for JusticeWhat is the Census?

U.S. Census Bureau “Census 101:What You Need to Know

  • Counting for Dollars 2020: This document from the George Washington University Institute of Public Policy provides a detailed list of the programs which receive funding based on census counts, including how much money comes to Minnesota for each program. (See the North Carolina report here. Find other state’s reports here.)
  • Census 2020 in North Carolina: The NC Counts Coalition serves as a hub to facilitate cross-sector coordination among government, planning and community organizations, service providers, businesses and others to achieve a complete and accurate Census count for North Carolina. Stronger NC has created a 2020 Census Toolkit. (Download the Toolkit here.) 
  • Mapping Historically Undercounted Communities: In North Carolina the hard to count communities include minority communities (African American, Asian, and Hispanic), children under 5 years old, the foreign born population, communities with limited or no broadband internet access, and renters. This interactive map, created by the NC Counts Coalition, allows users to search for the areas that have been historically undercounted in North Carolina. (See map here.)

See also this article from the UNC School of Government “Overcoming the Risk of a Rural Census Undercount.” (Community Engagement Learning Exchange Blog, July 30, 2019)

A UNC School of Government Blog
  • Issue: Distrust
    • Prepare students as liaisons to their own hard-to-count communities
  • Issue: People want training
    • Develop resources on how the census works
  • Issue: Off-campus students
    • Develop campus systems and awareness-raising for these groups

On April 16, 2019 Campus Compact hosted a webinar on Census 2020 as part of the 2018-19 national webinar series. The facilitators discussed the vital role that colleges and universities can play in ensuring a fair and complete count in the 2020 Census. (Click here to view).

  • The census takes place starting April 1, 2020 and is based on the address where someone is living/staying on that specific day.
    • Student highlight: It is NOT based on your “permanent address” or who might claim you as a dependent on their taxes.
    • Students who live on campus in residence halls will have their census information completed for them by their college or university. Everyone else must complete one census form on their own for all the people living at their address.
  • First, people will be asked to complete an online or phone census form. Those who don’t respond will receive a paper form in the mail. Census enumerators, people from your area who are being employed by the Census, will come to the doors of those who don’t complete the paper form.
  • Confidentiality: By law, your responses cannot be used against you by
    any government agency or court in any way. Read more from the US Census Bureau about Census confidentiality here.
  • Campuses may want to create their own FAQs specific to their context. Here is an example from James Madison University.

There are many factors that may lead to an undercount in the Census:

  • Citizenship status question – In June 2019 the Supreme Court ruled that the Administration did not provide an adequate justification for adding a citizenship question to the census.  As the Trump Administration decided not to pursue the matter further through legal avenues, the question will not be included for the 2020 Census. However, misunderstanding about whether or not the question will be included could pose a barrier to individuals who are members of migrant and immigrant communities who were concerned about how the citizenship status question might be used.
  • Many people face barriers to participation, such as people experiencing homelessness, and those speaking languages that the Census will not be translated into, such as Hmong.  North Carolina boasts the fourth largest Hmong population in the nation after California, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.  
  • Many communities have uncertainty about whether participating in the Census is worth the potential risks, such as Native nations with questions of sovereignty and history of forced removal.
  • Off-campus, adult, renter and highly mobile students are at risk of going uncounted for a range of reasons.

See these examples of efforts to communicate with hard to count communities.

Are you a trusted messenger?

    • Think about communities you’re connected to: geographic, cultural, religious, campus student groups, or other communities. Are you a trusted messenger in those spaces? If the census matters to you, you may be able to help others in those communities get information about and participate in the upcoming census. On the other hand, there is so much distrust about the census that it can actually be harmful for “outsiders” to enter communities where they do not have pre-existing trusting relationship to try to help people participate in the census. Self-awareness and reflection are important first steps prior to deciding how to be helpful.
  • Work for the Census. These are part-time jobs that can be done in the evening or weekend and pay well. The Census Bureau particularly needs people with language skills and relationships in their own communities who can help achieve a complete count. Due to the low unemployment rate, the Census is working hard to fill these positions. If part-time work in your own community could be a fit for you, consider applying. (More information here.)
  • Talk to friends, family, and neighbors about the 2020 Census. A lot of people just don’t know the Census is coming, and once they understand how important it is to their communities and that others they trust think it matters, they do, too.
  • Commit to Count Table. Set up a table on campus before the Census to provide information, have people commit to participate in the Census, and write reminder postcards to have sent to themselves.
  • Help people complete the Census form. If you’re a trusted member of a community, you could be an important helper. Libraries, schools, and other familiar and trusted community centers can be places where neighbors access computers and get help completing the Census form for their household.
  • Join a Complete Count Committee. Across the state, people are invited to form Complete Count Committees (CCC). These volunteer committees are established by tribal, state, and local governments, and/or community leaders,  to increase awareness about the Census and motivate residents in the community to respond.  Learn about CCCs here.
  • Contact a local library or League of Women Voters. Organizations such as libraries and local LWV chapters are organizing to support complete census counts. Find one near you and reach out to see if you can support their efforts.
  • Facilitate a dialogue in your local community about the census. This guide was prepared by the Minnesota Higher Education and Census 2020 Network, in partnership with Minnesota Campus Compact. This is a guide for a small group of people (4-8) to learn about each other and explore an important public issue. It is based on the Living Room Conversations model.