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Commerce Secretary William M. Daley and Census Bureau Director Kenneth Prewitt today announced an initiative to encourage grassroots participation in Census 2000 in every town, city, county, state and tribal area in the nation.
Called How America Knows What America Needs, the two-pronged program provides governors, tribal leaders, county commissioners, mayors and other highest-elected officials with a toolkit of materials to better promote the census in their communities. These include an information kit, access to a dedicated Web site and a toll-free telephone number for questions on the program.
"Because the census is so important to every resident, we must do everything we can to ensure that everyone is included in the count," Daley said. "This program will provide elected officials across America with the tools necessary to increase awareness and response within their communities."
"Census 2000 can be a civic event that reverses the troubling decline in the level of civic engagement across our country," Census Bureau Director Kenneth Prewitt said. "How America Knows What America Needs challenges every member of every community in America to participate in the census. It converts the census into a civic activity of the highest order."
The first component of the program - '90 Plus Five - challenges communities in areas where the census is conducted by mail to increase their mail response rate in Census 2000 by at least 5 percentage points over the 1990 level. To gauge progress, Census 2000 response rates for each jurisdiction will be posted on the Internet and updated daily from March 27 to April 11.
The second component - Because You Count - encourages public cooperation with enumerators. This program targets two types of households. One type comprises households that do not return their census forms by mail. The other -- a much smaller group -- consists of those in mostly rural areas where forms are not mailed and census workers deliver the questionnaires to each household personally.
The program is voluntary, and the highest elected officials in almost 39,000 jurisdictions were invited to participate. Officials may sign up for the program online at <http://www.hakwan.com> or via the toll-free number 1-877-6-HAKWAN.
The Census Bureau needs the help of local residents to conduct Census 2000. Job opportunities include census taker positions in communities and neighborhoods and office work. A large number of part-time positions are available. For more information on census jobs in your area, call toll-free 1-888-325-7733.
The Census Bureau guarantees that the answers given on census forms are kept strictly confidential. Information collected in Census 2000 will provide local area data needed for communities to receive federal program funds and for private sector and community planning.