Pride Center of NJ Awarded $50,000 Department of State Complete Count Commission Grant

Published Thursday, February 6, 2020

HIGHLAND PARK, N.J., Jan. 30, 2020 /PRNewswire/

The grant-funded project, entitled LGBT Census T.E.A.M. (Targeted Education and Awareness to Multidimensional-populations), is a coordinated, county-wide effort which strives to increase Census participation rates for the LGBT community. There is a critical need that every person who resides in the state be counted as more than $23 billion is at stake in federal funds. An under-count will result in less funding for the state and fewer representatives in Congress. New Jersey has lost three congressional seats since 1980.

As mandated by the Constitution, the U.S. Census counts the residents of the United States every ten years. Participating in the Census is everyone's civic duty, but not everyone responds to it. In 2010, for example, fewer than 60% of New Brunswick residents were counted. LGBT individuals are considered part of a Hard to Count (HTC) population. Other HTCs include, but are not limited to, African Americans, Latinos/Latinx, Asians, Non-Native English speakers, college students, young children, men 18-49, the incarcerated, and the elderly.

Members of HTC communities may be wary of responding to the Census for fear of their immigration status, concern about legal reprisal, or a fear of government in general. However, "By law, your census responses cannot be used against you by any government agency or court in any way—not by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), not by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), not by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and not by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)." (Census.gov)

Mark McSpirit, president of The Pride Center stated, "The project will launch a targeted outreach campaign that capitalizes on the trusted name The Pride Center has built within the LGBTQ+ community since its founding 25 years ago. It will educate the public about the importance of being counted."

The Center, which has a long history of working with local community partners, will collaborate alongside other local LGBT and ally nonprofits in targeting HTC individuals. It will engage in a campaign to educate the public, encourage participation, as well as establish a Community Census Support Center at the Pride Center where visitors can log in and file with the Census electronically.

The mission of The Pride Center of New Jersey is to provide a safe and welcoming space for all individuals who identify as LGBTQ to find support, educational tools, health and education resources, and social opportunities within a community of acceptance. Comprehensive programming in support of this mission includes lesbian, gay, trans and family resources, social groups and free HIV testing. https://www.pridecenter.org/