Census Toolkit for the Afterschool Community

Millions of our children and youth rely on federal support, determined by the U.S. census, to attend afterschool and summer learning programs. The results of the census will be used to determine how more than $675 billion per year of federal spending will be allocated for the next 10 years.

You will NOT be asked about your citizenship status on the 2020 Census.

Census FAQs: Answers to Common Questions

The census is a count of all people living in the United States, mandated by the Constitution, that is conducted every 10 years. It is conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, a nonpartisan government agency.
The census counts every resident in the United States, including citizens, non-citizen legal residents, non-citizen long-term visitors, and undocumented immigrants.

In March 2020, households will receive a letter inviting them to participate in the 2020 Census, with details on how to fill out the census. You can fill out the census online, by mail, or by phone. All households will receive this letter by April 1, 2020, which is Census Day. Census Day is the point of reference for filling out the census--in your responses, you include everyone living in your home on April 1, 2020, regardless of age or guardianship.In April 2020, households that have not yet responded will be sent a paper census. Due to precautions regarding the spread of COVID-19, home visits have been pushed back to begin in late May 2020. You have until the summer of 2020 to complete the census.

  • December 2019 - Mid-March 2020
    Educate your audience about the 2020 Census.
    • Explain why it’s important and how it benefits your community.
    • Inform your audience that the census is easy, safe, and important.
    • Display posters and other partner materials.
    • Include messaging about the 2020 Census in your emails, newsletters, and blogs.
    • Apply to be a census taker and recruit part-time staff and young adults to become census takers.
  • March 2020
    The website to respond to the census goes live. People across the United States can begin responding to the 2020 Census online, by phone, or by mail.
  • April 1 is Census Day
  • Mid-March - May 2020
    Encourage your audience to respond to the 2020 Census.
    • Share the link to the online census form.
    • Make computers or Wi-Fi available for your audience to respond online.
    • Continue to inform your audience about the importance of responding to the census.
  • May - July 2020
    Share information about how the U.S. Census Bureau will make sure everyone is counted.
    • Let your audience know that census takers will follow up in person with households that have not yet responded.
    • Inform your audience that census takers can assist them in completing their census form.

The 2020 Census in your community - If you are unsure of who in your community will be leading the efforts to "Get Out the Count" in 2020, here are some of the trusted partners in your state that are here to help:

The census asks you demographic information about all of the people residing in your home, including age, race, and gender. It will never ask you to disclose information such as your social security number, anything related to your bank account or credit card numbers, or anything related to your political party affiliation.

Importantly, the 2020 Census will NOT ask you about your citizenship status. To find out what questions will be asked by the census, visit: https://2020census.gov/en/about-questions.html

  • We can reassure families that filling out the census is safe. The U.S. Census Bureau is bound by law to keep your census responses strictly confidential.
  • Census takers cannot ask for social security numbers, financial information, or payment of any kind.

You will NOT be asked about your citizenship status on the 2020 Census.

The groups most likely to not be counted are:
  • Infants and young children
  • Highly mobile persons
  • Racial and ethnic minorities
  • Non-English speakers
  • Low income persons
  • Persons experiencing homelessness
  • Undocumented immigrants
  • Persons who distrust the government
  • LGBTQ persons
  • Persons with mental or physical disabilities
  • Persons who do not live in traditional housing
Helping to get an accurate census count is one of the most important things we can do to serve our communities.
Undercounting in the 2020 Census - In addition to potential misinformation about a 'citizenship question,' many barriers exist that may discourage, dissuade, or deny access to those historically undercounted groups.

Census 2020: How to Make Afterschool Count

Why does the census matter to afterschool programs and the families they serve?
  • The results of the census are used to determine how more than $675 billion per year of federal spending will be allocated for the next 10 years.
  • Out of the 16 biggest programs with funding tied to census results, eight are related to education; the largest of these tied to afterschool is Title I funding. 21st Century Community Learning Centers funding, and Child Care Development Block Grant funding are also determined by the census results.
  • Census data is used widely by both the private and public spheres. If the census count is not accurate, the children, families, and communities we serve stand to lose a host of resources.

2020 Census by the numbers - Funding from federal programs is distributed to states through various community-lifting programs based on total population and target population counts.

How can afterschool providers make a difference?
  • Encourage members of your community, including youth 18 or older, afterschool staff, and parents, to apply to be paid census takers. Applications are available NOW.
  • Educate your students, families, and communities about the importance of the census.
  • Help facilitate tele-events to encourage an accurate census count.

Have trusted individuals, like students and program staff, educate parents and community members about the importance of the census. Key points include:

  • It is safe to answer the census. It is ILLEGAL for any census taker to share information from the census with anyone, including housing, law enforcement, and immigration agencies.
  • Make sure all family members residing in your home are counted.
  • Young children especially between the ages of 0-4 are by far the least likely to be counted with undercount estimates for the 2010 census at -4.6%.
  • Young Black and Hispanic children are less likely to be counted than white children.
  • The results of the census will determine the way funding is allocated for programs our community relies on and the way our community is represented in local, state, and federal government, for the next ten years.

Help connect families to the census.

  • Share information about what the census is and how families can fill out the census.
  • Provide families that have access to computers with internet with easy explanations on how to fill out the census accurately.
  • Plan a census tele-event. Ask staff and trusted community members to call their friends and encourage them to complete their census survey online.
  • If you have the resources, become an official center where families can fill out the census.
  • Connect families to local libraries to see if they can borrow laptops to complete the census survey safely while following safety precautions.

Consider becoming a census partner.

  • Contact your city and/or county about Complete Count Committees—local collaborative partnerships working at the community level to ensure an accurate census count.
  • Meet with Census Partnership Specialists. The Census Bureau has Partnership Specialists on staff dedicated to helping you ensure that your community gets counted. Partnership specialists can help you become a census partner and connect you with the tools and resources that you need to conduct effective census outreach.
  • You don’t need to make specific commitments to your Census Partnership Specialist, but be ready to give them an idea of the types of census outreach activities your organization would be interested in. Examples include:
    • Hang an informational poster about the census in your lobby
    • Have your membership specialists ask adults if they have completed their census
    • Provide a computer for use when completing their census form online
    • Give census buttons to staff to wear
    • Include census information in your e-newsletter, website, and other organizational communications
    • Participate in a Local Complete Count Committee
    • Provide volunteers for census events
    • Promote census job opportunities/host census job fair in partnership with U.S. Census Bureau

Use, Organize Around, and Share the Map of Under-Counted Communities.

This map helps you find communities that have been undercounted in the past. Find the ones in your neighborhood and coordinate outreach and events to reach these individuals and families in particular.

Count Me In: Take Action

How to Become a Census Taker

2020 Census field offices are open and operating with reduced staff to allow for social distancing and support efforts to stop the spread of this coronavirus.

There's still time to apply to become a census taker. Afterschool program staff members and students that meet the minimum age requirement can apply to be a census taker, which is a paid, part-time position.

How can I apply to be a census taker?

The application to be a census taker is available online at the United States Census Bureau's website and takes about 30 minutes to complete. Your local library may also have resources to assist you throughout the application process. Applications are available in English and Spanish.

Afterschool programs can partner with local libraries to train census takers, help people apply to be census takers, and host census completing events using the libraries’ free computers and internet access.

What are the eligibility requirements to be a census taker?

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Have a valid Social Security number.
  • Be a U.S. citizen.
  • Have a valid email address.
  • Be registered with the Selective Service System or have a qualifying exemption, if you are a male born after Dec. 31, 1959.
  • Pass a Census-performed criminal background check and a review of criminal records, including fingerprinting.
  • Commit to completing the training.
  • Be available to work flexible hours, which can include days, evenings, and/or weekends.
  • Most jobs require employees to: have access to a vehicle and a valid driver’s license, unless public transportation is readily available AND have access to a computer with internet and an email account (to complete training).

Get the Word Out — Educate and Promote


It has never been more important for families to hear from trusted community partners. With everyone responding to the COVID-19 outbreak, it is important that families do not forget how important it is for them to complete the census survey - and ensure their communities are not deprived of critical resouces over the next decade. Take a role in educating families about what is at stake and encourage everyone to take the important step of completing their survey.

Due to the sensitive nature of privacy, many folks in your community may be wary of completing their 2020 Census survey. At a time when disinformation and misinformation can cause many families to mistrust the census process, it is imperative that families know their rights and what is at stake - and that they are reassured of this through reliable sources and trusted community members.

Afterschool providers can and should be that voice. In many cases, families already place a tremendous amount of trust in their afterschool providers and often have long-standing relationships with program staff that spans over multiple school years. As a trusted community member, it is important that families hear from you that completing the census is not only safe but urgently important.


Here’s how you can spread the message that the census is coming, important, and safe:

  • Hang an informational poster about the census in your lobby
  • Give census buttons to staff to wear
  • Include census information in your e-newsletter, website, and other organizational communications
  • Use social media to spread important information
    • Visit our social media toolkit for sample language and visuals you can use. Something not there that you’d like to see? Email info@afterschoolalliance.org.

If there are families in your community who are more comfortable with a language other than English, there are resources available in many other languages to help respondents complete the 2020 Census.

Language Guides from the U.S. Census Bureau | These guides are available in 60 different languages and can help respondents complete the 2020 Census.

These resources will help you think about how to message your communication with families and what information to emphasize.

Sample Materials

Use these resources to help you share information about the 2020 Census. These partner organizations have explainer videos, graphics, and language for you to pull from.

Host a Census Event

IMPORTANT: To be fully compliant and cooperative with safety precautions aim at slowing the spread of COVID-19, we do not encourage afterschool programs to host census nights at this time. However, there are still ways afterschool programs and staff can play a role in ensuring their families are counted. Include a census reminder in your next email, newsletter, or update - include a link to the survey online and some resources on what the census means, why it is important, and how families can be reassured of its safety. Or take this opportunity to call families and check in on them. As part of your check-in, encourage them to go to census.gov and complete their survey - ensuring their family sees the resources they need for the next ten years.

OR plan a tele-event! Ask program staff to take one hour on a scheduled night to call families and talk about the census and why it matters. Before ending your call, encourage families to complete their survey by the end of the hour and then call two more friends to encourage them to complete their survey.

While this is a very fluid situation, we expect that the survey completion date will be pushed back to accommodate the precautions taken to stem the spread of COVID-19. When normal activities resume, afterschool and summer learning programs will be hubs of family engagement. Understanding the many barriers that exist for families who wish to complete the census survey, one of the most effective ways afterschool providers can help ensure an accurate count is by hosting a census event at their program. When normal activities resume, afterschool providers are encouraged to open up their spaces and invite families to complete their survey using their facilities and computers.

For more, join NonprofitVote's webinar on April 8 about getting out the count during COVID-19

Additional partner resources for getting out the count during COVID-19:

Get creative! You can make it a one-night event and invite a census expert from your local Complete Count Committee or have computers, laptops, and tablets ready on a rolling basis during student pick-up.

Check out this resource on planning your own Census Night

If you have the resources, become an official center where families can fill out the census, or consider partnering and/or co-hosting an event with other organizations in your community that are also working on ensuring a complete count. For example, many libraries are getting involved with the 2020 Census and can be a great place to start!