Will You Count? Black Long Islanders At Risk in the 2020 Census​

Making sense of the Census

As mandated by the U.S. Constitution, we get one chance to count who lives in the United States every decade. Basic information such as age, sex, and race is collected during this period. 

By April 1, 2020, most households will have received an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census. If you don’t receive a mailer by April 1, you can still complete the Census online or by phone! 


Why is It Important?

The data collected is used to allocate funds to our community for the next 10 years. If the data is inaccurate the consequences can be costly in many different ways. These funds impact everything from school funding to health insurance, road repair, most crucially, it impacts our political representation in Albany and Washington D.C.

New York received $73.3B from Federal Spending Programs guided by data from the 2010 Census. 

We are a diverse and growing population, and in the coming decade, the allocation of funds across Long Island will depend on the accuracy of the 2020 Census – we might be at risk! 


Why could Black Long Islanders and other minority groups be at risk?

Suffolk and Nassau Counties are the 4th and 5th hardest to count counties in New York State and racial and ethnic minorities are one of the hard to count populations across the island. 

Did you know that out of all Long Islanders that did NOT respond to the Census in 2010 nearly 40% were people of color?  

Let’s take a look at Wyandanch:

BACKGROUND: The general population of Wyandanch, NY is nearly 11.4K and the ethnic composition of the population is composed of 6.5K Black or African American

The 2010 Census, showed only 4% of the overall population was between ages 0-5, which was inaccurate. 

As students started to attend public school, the schools were not prepared to accommodate them. As a result, the Wyandanch school district had to rent space from a neighboring school to accommodate the student body. The funds spent on additional space could have been allocated had the data better represented the student population.  

According to George Washington University, every person not counted in the Census will cost Long Island significantly over the next decade. 

That could deprive our region and children of millions of dollars in needed funding for programs such as:

  • National School Lunch Program 
  • Medicare Part B
  • Section 8
  • Special Education Grants 
  • Child Care and Development funds


We are Hard to Count for the Following reasons: 

Hard to Persuade: Distrust of government or low level of civic engagement 

Hard to Locate: Unregistered living units or want to remain hidden   

Hard to Interview: Participation hindered by language barriers, low literacy; lack of internet

Hard to Contact: Highly mobile, experiencing homelessness, or rural 


Make sure you are counted! 

We are America’s first suburb and our history is one of undercounting and we have an opportunity to change that now. To avoid crowded schools, vacant storefronts, or disproportionately low representation in Congress, please fill out Census and encourage your family and friends to do the same.  

Respond to the survey or get help here


How to Fill out the Census?

Responses can be submitted in person, online, by phone or by mail! Canvassers will also visit households that have not yet responded. Respond to the survey or get help here.


Black-Owned Long Island (BOLI) is a partner and trusted voice of the 2020 Census. We have a critical role to play in reaching the BOLI community.

You can support our goal of a complete and accurate count by explaining to your family, friends, customers, members, or stakeholders why participating is important. 

Standby for a follow-up on how the 2020 Census impacts non-citizens and business owners. 
“Counting for Dollars 2020: The Role of the Decennial Census in the Geographic Distribution of Federal Funds.” The George Washington University Institute of Public Policy. 19 Feb. 2019
“Long Island Counts 2020 Census Report.” Office of the Nassau County Comptroller Health and Welfare Council of Long I land July 23, 2019
 “The Census Bureau ACS 5-year Estimate”