There’s an easy step you can take that will go a long way toward ensuring everyone gets the representation and resources they deserve. By completing the 2020 census questionnaire -- online, over the phone, or by mail -- you can add your voice to the conversation and make yourself and your family heard.

Here are five ways your census response will help you and other Americans.

It advances racial equity. Recently, millions have taken to the streets seeking racial equity and justice. Real change will only occur when these demands become public policy. For that to happen, our government needs to see you. That can only happen if you stand up to be counted. Inequities that undermine the nation can never be addressed unless you fill out the census and join the fight for social justice.

It directs funding to efforts that save lives. As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to ravage the country, it’s critical that we direct our emergency resources to those who need them the most. Black and Latinx Americans are disproportionately impacted by the virus and are twice as likely to die from COVID-19. Wealth also factors into the survivability of COVID-19. Adults with an annual household income below $15,000 are nearly 15% more likely to contract a serious illness following infection compared to those with annual incomes over $50,000.

Your census response helps identify at-risk communities and directs resources to these vulnerable populations. The coronavirus won’t be the last time certain communities are disproportionately impacted by a natural disaster. Accurate census data will prepare first responders, nonprofit relief organizations, and government officials to respond to future crises.

It funds everything from public housing to school breakfasts. This year’s census will determine how trillions of dollars in federal spending are allocated over the next decade. In 2017 alone, over 300 federal programs relied on 2010 census data to allocate $1.5 trillion of funds. That money pays for everything from public housing to school breakfast programs, new roads to trash and recycling schedules. Federal dollars won’t reach the communities that need them most unless the government has a precise picture of your local population. You must paint that picture by letting them know you are there.

It ensures fair political representation. Ever wonder why Ohio has 16 seats in the House of Representatives, while Georgia has only 14? The number of representatives a state gets increases with its population -- and the census determines its population.

You pay taxes, right? Well, don’t you want to be fairly represented? The results of the 2020 census will shape the Congressional map for the next decade. If you want a Congress that represents your community and serves your interests, make sure the government accounts for you and your family.

It creates jobs. Census data doesn’t just help government officials. Businesses consult the census when making hiring and payroll decisions, or where to locate a new office, or when determining how best to serve their communities. For instance, understanding the demographic of a particular neighborhood can help a local grocer determine which items to stock. This knowledge helps her business grow and creates jobs in your neighborhood, while delivering needed items to the marketplace.

At United Way, we fight for every person in every community to be seen and heard. But we can’t do it alone. Join us and help stand up for your community by being counted. You have until Sept. 30 to fill out the 2020 U.S. census. Change doesn’t happen without you.

Suzanne McCormick is U.S. President of United Way.

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