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‘WNC Is Traditionally Undercounted,’ Dogwood Health Trust Hopes To Increase Census Participation

Courtesy of U.S. Census
These are the percentages of responses to the 2020 U.S. Census for each county in North Carolinaon July 29.

Right now only about 30 percent of Jackson and Swain Counties have responded to the U.S. Census. Statewide almost 60 percent of North Carolians have already responded to the census. 

“Western North Carolina has historically been undercounted in the Census and 2020 is no exception,” said Jackie Simms, chair of the programs and grants committee at Dogwood Health Trust in a press release. 

Dogwood Health Trust is partnering with almost all of the 18 Western North Carolina counties to reach communities that have been historically undercounted and increase participation in the 2020 Census. 

“Completing the Census is safe, easy and convenient. It takes less than 10 minutes and can be done via the computer, mobile phone, telephone or paper form,” says Simms in a press release. “We want to partner with county governments and organizations in our region to build on the great work they’ve already been doing and bring it over the finish line to help them succeed in drawing more federal dollars to their communities!”

Every person counted during the 2020 Census in North Carolina brings in more than $4,000 in federal program dollars each year – this would translate into approximately $3.6 billion for the region if everyone responded, according to a George Washington University study. 

Dogwood Health Trust is providing participating WNC counties and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians with an incentive of $1,000 for every full percentage point increase in Census self-reporting from June 26 through October 31, with a 30-point cap. Mini-grants of up to $2,500 are also available to each county to assist with their Census marketing and outreach efforts. 

Dogwood Health Trust is also looking for nonprofit organizations who work with traditionally undercounted populations to help mobilize their networks to participate in the Census. Organizations that fit this description should contact census@dht.org.

Lilly Knoepp is Senior Regional Reporter for Blue Ridge Public Radio. She has served as BPR’s first fulltime reporter covering Western North Carolina since 2018. She is from Franklin, NC. She returns to WNC after serving as the assistant editor of Women@Forbes and digital producer of the Forbes podcast network. She holds a master’s degree in international journalism from the City University of New York and earned a double major from UNC-Chapel Hill in religious studies and political science.
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