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PAE Grant to Aid in Census Count

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PAE Grant to Aid in Census Count
Posted on 12/19/2019
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The Maine Census Outreach Fund 2020 (MCOF 2020) has awarded 14 nonprofits with grants to support the participation of hard-to-count communities in the upcoming 2020 Census. Grant-funded activities will include outreach through community events, adult education programs – including Portland Adult Education – and phone banks. Some organizations will offer on-site computer labs for completing Census forms. 

Among the 14 nonprofits receiving grants is the Maine Adult Education Association, of which Portland Adult Education (PAE) is a member. PAE’s share of the grant money is $1,000, which it will use to fund outreach efforts to assist Portland community members to participate in the Census, said PAE Executive Director Anita St. Onge.

“Getting an accurate Census count will be critical for Portland to receive the much-needed data and funding it deserves,” St. Onge said. “Anything that Portland Adult Education can do to provide information and assistance to our community will enhance our students and their families.”

She said PAE’s efforts will include opening the PAE Learning Lab so that people can enter their Census information and assisting people who need help understanding the process. PAE also will be incorporating information about the Census in lesson plans for classes this winter and spring, St. Onge said. In addition, she said, PAE will be engaged with community partners to spread the news about the importance of the Census for the community. 

Portland Adult Education, which is part of the Portland Public Schools, typically serves about 4,000 adults each year, in academic and English Language Learner classes, as well as enrichment and job skills classes. Last year, 2,240 PAE students were new Mainers from 90 countries.

Every 10 years, the US Constitution requires that all residents, including non-citizens and undocumented immigrants, be counted through a nationwide census.

“Collecting accurate census data is an essential part in determining a fair allocation of federal funds and political representation at the federal, state, and local levels,” said Morgan Hynd, director of The Bingham Program, which facilitated the MCOF 2020 effort. “It is critical that we have a complete count in Maine to ensure accurate demographic data about our state and to ensure that our tax dollars are returned to the state to fund important programs that impact all of us. For every child that is not counted, Maine could potentially lose $16,400 in federal funding over a ten-year period.”   

Historically, a number of communities have been undercounted in Maine, including tribal nations, children under age 5, people in rural communities, people of color, and people experiencing homelessness, among others. The 2020 Census will also be the first time that a digital option is the first option for response, adding new challenges for counting those who lack digital literacy and Internet access.  

The MCOF 2020 is a collaborative funding effort supported by the Maine Philanthropy Center that pooled $170,000 from nine different philanthropies that make grants in Maine.  This is the first time that Maine philanthropies have worked together to support Census work, which will help to inform future Census outreach efforts in 2030 and beyond. The MCOF grants for statewide and community-based efforts were awarded through an open request for proposal process for statewide and community-based efforts and ranged from $5,000 to $15,000.

The funded organizations are: Gateway Community Services Maine; Hand in Hand Mano en Mano; League of Women Voters of Maine - Education Fund; Literacy Volunteers of Greater Augusta; Maine Access Immigrant Network (MAIN); Maine Adult Education Association; Maine Children's Alliance; Maine Equal Justice; Maine Immigrants' Rights Coalition; Preble Street; Rural Community Action Ministry; Sunrise County Economic Council; Tri-County Mental Health Services; and YWCA Central Maine.

The Maine Census Outreach Fund 2020 (MCOF 2020) funding partners include: The Betterment Fund, The Bingham Program, Broad Reach Fund, The Doree Taylor Foundation, Bank of America N.A., Trustee, Elmina B. Sewall Foundation, John T. Gorman Foundation, Maine Community Foundation, Maine Health Access Foundation, and Sam L. Cohen Foundation.  Non-funding partners include: Maine Philanthropy Center, Maine Women’s Fund and United Way of Greater Portland.