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Our Partners, at Half-Time of The 2010 Census

Tue Apr 20 2010
Robert Groves
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Over the past few days I have met with hundreds of our partners, who voluntarily helped us get the message out to their constituents that the 2010 Census is important for their futures.

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They are just a few of nearly a quarter of a million groups throughout the country that have provided thousands of volunteer hours to help us.

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The creativity of the groups is phenomenal. They have hung door hangers describing the census on millions of houses. They have held census fairs. They have sponsored poster contests for schoolchildren to advertise the census. They have knocked on doors and told people to look out for the form or the census taker. One partner even spent days at a juvenile court, talking with parents and teenagers as they waited in line for the judicial hearing, urging them to participate in the census!

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They are the true heroes of the 2010 census. They’re not being paid. They’re not visibly honored by their locales. They’re not becoming famous. They’re working their neighborhoods because they believe that a fair count of their areas will provide the desired political representation and federal funding.

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Some of them have literally spent hundreds of hours, mostly in neighborhoods that historically have been the most difficult to enumerate. They look at our “Take 10” web-page map of mailed forms as a measure of their success. Some of them see mail participation rates that are much lower than they expected, and they feel somewhat defeated.

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For some time, the survey research profession has observed declining rates of participation in sample surveys in all Western countries. The reasons for this are complex, but the pattern of large urban areas having typically low response rates is consistent. Persons with less formal education have lower response rates on self-administered questionnaires, and those experiencing more residential mobility tend to have lower rates. To survey professionals the variation in response rates across the census tracts is expected.

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Many of our partners worked to raise the response rates in the most challenging populations. As all of us can see by looking at the census tract performance, they have had many successes. They should be proud of those. They should also rest assured that their efforts in tracts that performed less well were not in vain. They no doubt helped inform many households of the value of their returning the census form.

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I dearly hope that our 226,469 partner organizations have saved some energy to help us in the second phase of the census, urging their constituents to open their doors when the census taker comes to follow-up on nonrespondent cases and to answer the short set of 2010 Census questions.

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If you know someone who is helping us get the word out about the census, thank them. They deserve all our appreciation.

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Please submit any questions pertaining to this post to

Director Robert Groves

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