Photo: Hannah Saeger Karnei

CENSUS 2020: Great Possibilities When Communities Work Together

Posted on November 16, 2020 by Hannah Saeger Karnei, Inaugural TPF Fellow

Editor's Note: This article was originally published in the Herald-TribuneHannah Saeger Karnei is the inaugural fellow at The Patterson Foundation and manager of the Census 2020 Education Project.


To say 2020 has been a tumultuous year for the U.S. would be an understatement. We are on the other side of the presidential election but at the beginning of trying to identify a path forward as a more unified nation.

As the 2020 Census wound to a close on Oct. 15, The Patterson Foundation's Census 2020 Education team collectively took a deep breath. While the U.S. Census Bureau is still processing the data, the community data collection, or counting, is complete.

Like any endeavor this year, the Census 2020 Education project and the census itself faced incredible difficulties. From forced closures due to the global pandemic to back and forth legislative battles and historically low trust in the federal government, it was not an easy year to make sure everyone was counted. However, our communities across the Suncoast region rose to the occasion. From chambers of commerce to county and city governments and our nonprofit advocates from all four counties, it was impossible not to face the challenges with an optimistic heart.

Charlotte, DeSoto, Manatee, and Sarasota counties each took a unique approach to the 2020 Census in their community. The Patterson Foundation, together with the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, through Aspirations Journalism, was able to weave together efforts across our region for an amplified impact.

When you look back at our guest columnists in the Herald-Tribune over the last ten months, or if you examine the breadth of partners who willingly brought the 2020 Census into their daily conversations, it’s clear that our neighbors are fully invested in creating a brighter future.

We’re nearing the end of the decennial census process, meaning we won’t have this chance again until 2030. Ten years is a long time. From birth to fifth grade. From middle school to married. From full-time employees with kids in college to retired empty nesters. From 90 to 100. This census will shape the resources and opportunities that we as a community will have access to over the next decade.

The need for our communities to work together doesn’t end with the census count. It’s up to all of us to see the possibilities for our children, parents, partners, and older adults and continue to explore opportunities to create new realities. If we could all work together to spread the word about the 2020 Census, what else could we unlock when we think of a future based on common aspirations?

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