The Health & Welfare Council of Long Island Monday announced a competition for young people to promote participation in the U.S. Census. The Census Logo Contest is open to Long Island school districts and calls on all Long Island high school students to design a Census logo for community engagement for next year’s census.
Rebecca Sanin, president of the council, said that the census is an important task that needs to be addressed as a lot depends on the count.
“The census impacts our communities,” she said, “Communities that Long Islanders love… that’s why we are counting on our children to help create our census engagement for the next year.”
Sanin was joined by Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, Nassau County Comptroller Jack Schnirman, Town of North Hempstead Councilwoman Viviana Russell, Superintendent of Hampton Bays Schools Lars Clemensen and Superintendent of Mineola School District Mike Nagler, each one offering why, and who, this campaign will help.
“Long Island has 124 school districts,” he said, “We’re a year away, which seems like a long time, but it’s really not.”
The idea behind the campaign is to allow kids to create media that will help engage their families, friends and other community members to participate in the 2020 census. And although it’s still not for another year, Clemensen said it’s time to start that engagement.
“Every human and community needs to be counted,” Sanin said. “Long Island depends on it.”
Over $73 billion is allocated from 55 spending programs based on the decennial census including Medicaid, school funding, Headstart, WIC, school breakfast, Title I and special education. The census impacts everything from schools, hospitals, food programs, emergency services and infrastructure. It serves as the framework for businesses as they look to expand and introduce products based on community demographics.
“The areas that are hardest to count are usually the most at risk,” Clemensen said.
Nassau and Suffolk Counties are the fourth and fifth “hardest to count” counties in New York State. Roughly 803,000 (28 percent) of Long Island’s population live in hard to count areas.
“It doesn’t count unless you count everyone,” Schnirman said.
Both the Nassau and Suffolk County executives both agreed that the census is absolutely necessary for Long Island from a financial viewpoint.
“The consequences are severe,” Curran said. “We send more money to D.C. and Albany than we get back.”
Bellone agreed adding, “We can’t let that happen again.”
“This is a non-partisan issue,” he said. “This has nothing to do with what party you’re with. Every New Yorker needs to be accounted for.”
The campaign could be a way to get young people involved while also creating a change. “We’ve got one year to get it right to make sure it counts for the next 10 years,” Curran said.