Can you tell us a bit about AAF?
Founded in 1989, Asian American Federation (AAF) is a pan-Asian nonprofit leadership organization that supports a network of 70 Asian American community service organizations. AAF’s mission is to raise the influence and wellbeing of Asian American communities through research, policy advocacy, public awareness, and organizational development. By working closely with our member and partner organizations, we address challenges faced by low-to moderate-income Asian Americans. AAF is a Census Information Center, an officially designated partner of the Census Bureau, with a mission to increase access and use of Census data in underserved communities so Asian Americans can get their fair share of resources.
Why is it important to do census work?
The 2020 Census impacts representation through redistricting and reapportionment of Congressional seats, distribution of more than $800 billion dollars in federal funds, and community advocacy by providing one of the only sources of data on Asian ethnic groups. The 2020 Census also forms the baseline for the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, an on-going national survey that collects vital demographic and socioeconomic data. This information is also important for nonprofits, as many use it to show the justification and need for their services in certain areas. Without a complete and accurate Census, we would spend the next decade flying blind as we advocating for our communities.
What has AAF been doing to prepare communities for census 2020?
We have reached out to Asian American community organizations and leaders throughout New York State and New Jersey around the 2020 Census. We provide them with the information they need to inform their communities about the importance of the Census and the safeguards that are in place that will protect their data from being used against them. We also share resources such as training toolkits, translated materials and data and maps on hard-to-count communities and neighborhoods. We are part of multiple coalitions and working groups that are coordinating work across all communities that are historically undercounted and underrepresented in national statistics. These coalitions are vital to ensure that consistent and coordinated messaging on the 2020 Census is shared with all communities.
What's the most important message to communicate to the public about the census?
Messaging on the 2020 Census must address the two major worries expressed by Asian Americans. First we must show how the Census impacts funding for schools, transportation, healthcare, job training, ESL classes, among others. We have to make the census relatable and personal. Asian Americans need to be shown how the Census directly benefits their lives. We also have to emphasize how the Census Bureau protects their data and are legally prohibited from sharing with any other federal agencies. Fears that the data could be used against the community are valid and must be addressed.