HomeGrown StL Launches 2020 Census Challenge

Community Engagement; Diversity; Faculty; Social Work

A new effort from two centers at the Brown School aims to encourage people from traditionally undercounted communities to complete the 2020 U.S. Census.

As of April 3, the 2020 Census household self-response rate for St. Louis City was at 34%, well below the 51.7% and 43.2% self-response rates for St. Louis County and Missouri.

HomeGrown STL— a university-community partnership that aims to eliminate the disparities facing black boys and young men in the region— is challenging Black fraternities, sororities and social organizations to document a count of every Black male household among their members by April 30, 2020. The 2020 Census Challenge will use community partnerships, social media, virtual stickers and friendly competitions toward a goal of 100 percent participation.

“We are especially focused on making sure that black males ages 18-29 are counted in their households,” said Sean Joe, principal director of HomeGrown StL, the associate dean for faculty and research, and the Benjamin E. Youngdahl Professor of Social Development at the Brown School. The effort is also being led by Gena McClendon, PhD, voter engagement director at the School’s Center for Social Development.

The Kathryn M. Buder Center for American Indian Studies is also working hard to make sure American Indian and Alaska Native people are included in the census count. Through a grant from the St. Louis Regional Census Fund, the team is working to provide information as well as to help Native Americans be counted more accurately.

“The census is an opportunity for us to stand up and be counted,” said Kellie Thompson, Director of the Buder Center. “We need to make sure our communities get the funding they need to improve roads, schools, hospitals, and more.”

Cynthia Williams, assistant dean for community partnerships at the Brown School, said the census effort was important because governments allocate funding and other resources to communities based on the census. “Public resources on the local, state and federal levels will be determined based on the 2020 Census for the next 10 years,” she said. It is critically important that every man, woman and child be counted, particularly in low-income households and communities of color.”

For additional information, see https://raceandopportunitylab.wustl.edu or visit the Buder Center’s 2020 Census page.