PROVIDENCE – Gov. Gina M. Raimondo has signed an executive order creating the Rhode Island Complete Count Committee, a committee to develop and coordinate a census outreach program to increase awareness and participation in the 2020 U.S. census.
The committee, which will be co-chaired by R.I. Department of Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott and Central Falls Mayor James A. Diossa, will deliver an interim report on March 1, 2019, and a final report on June 30, 2019. The committee will disband on Dec. 31, 2020, following completion of the census.
One goal of the program will be to reach hard-to-count residents of Rhode Island, groups that have been previously undercounted in other censuses. Raimondo’s office identified some of these populations as being low-income residents, minorities, LGBTQ residents, homeless individuals, non-fluent English speakers, young adults and children.
The executive order comes after reports that Rhode Island may lose a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives due to the next census count. The count will also impact the share of federal funding Rhode Island receives until the next census is conducted 10 years down the line.
“We only get one shot at this, and it’s absolutely critical that we get it right,” Raimondo said in a statement. “The results of this census will have serious implications for our state for the next decade, which is why it’s so important that every single Rhode Islander is counted. This committee will help us do just that.”
The committee will include members from a spectrum of private and public communities, with the ultimate goal of the expansion of inclusion and effectiveness in the census process.
The program will include outreach programs, a multilingual multimedia campaign and partnerships with nonprofits, among other initiatives.
“There is a lot at stake for Rhode Island with the 2020 census, including millions of dollars in vital federal funding,” stated Jessica David, executive vice president of strategy and community investments at the Rhode Island Foundation. “This is the time for the public, private and nonprofit sectors to join together to ensure that every Rhode Islander is counted. We are confident that formation of the Statewide Complete Count Committee will aid in that effort.”
The committee will not receive state funding.