A coalition of Nebraska nonprofits is teaming up to help ensure that all Nebraskans are counted in the 2020 Census.

Nebraska Counts will seek to promote the importance of all households completing the Census questionnaire and also to come up with a statewide strategy to reach hard-to-count populations, such as Native Americans, immigrants, children and the elderly, said Angie Remington, one of the organizers of the new group.

Much is at stake in the April 2020 count that is now just more than six months away. One study last year estimated that for every Nebraskan missed in the count, the state would lose out on $21,000 in federal dollars over the next decade, a figure that could easily add up to millions of dollars.

For that reason, most states formed committees to help ensure a full count of their populations. Some states are putting millions of dollars in state funds into the efforts.

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In Nebraska, however, Gov. Pete Ricketts declined to form a state count committee and vetoed a bill from the Legislature that would have formed one. His spokesman said the state would support the census without forming such a committee.

Nebraska Civic Engagement Table and Civic Nebraska, two nonprofits that promote voting and participation in government, and the Nonprofit Association of the Midlands have now been working for more than a year to organize a statewide census promotion campaign, said Remington, deputy director of Nebraska Civic Engagement Table.

“People have questions like, ‘Who is knocking on my door? What happens to my information? Will it be kept private?’ ” Remington said. “We try to get that information out so people understand the importance of it and what’s at stake.”

Remington said the new group will be seeking local and national grant funding to help pay for the effort.

The 2020 Census is the first in which Americans will be encouraged to complete the form online. For that reason, Nebraska Counts is also working with libraries to assure that those without computers or cellphones can get access.

Other organizations behind the effort include the League of Women Voters of Nebraska and Omaha, Common Cause Nebraska, Voices for Children, Latino Center of the Midlands, the Tri-Faith Initiative, Immigrant Legal Center, Nebraska Appleseed, Community Action of Nebraska, Nebraskans Against Gun Violence, NeighborWorks Lincoln, Planned Parenthood Nebraska, the Coalition for a Strong Nebraska, Women’s Foundation of Lincoln & Lancaster County, Conservation Nebraska, Asian Community and Cultural Center of Lincoln, National Coalition of 100 Black Women, InCOMMON Community Development, El Centro de las Américas, East African Community of Nebraska and Nebraska Urban Indian Health Coalition.

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Reporter - Metro News

Henry is a general assignment reporter, but his specialty is deep dives into state issues and public policy. He's also into the numbers behind a story, yet to meet a spreadsheet he didn't like. Follow him on Twitter @HenryCordes. Phone: 402-444-1130.

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