Community Agenda Update: Working Toward a Complete Count

Date: July 1, 2019
Community Agenda Update: Working Toward a Complete Count

Forming a Complete Count Committee for Buffalo-Niagara Representation in Census 2020 was voted the third item on this year’s Community Agenda. Throughout the past several months, PPG and partners have explored best practices and developed ideas for the quickly approaching 2020 Census.

In early April, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz issued an executive order for the creation of an Erie County Complete Count Committee for the 2020 Census. Later that month, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown initiated Buffalo Count Us In as a city-wide complete count initiative. The two groups have since joined forces under the Buffalo and Erie County Complete Count Committee. PPG has supported the efforts of the steering committee, which hosted a kickoff event on June 6. The event brought together community leaders to raise awareness of the importance of the census, address concerns, and begin discussing subcommittees which will provide key support in communities which may be undercounted. The following subcommittees will be formed:

  • Faith-Based Communities
  • K-12 Education
  • Early Childhood
  • Higher Education
  • Labor/Business
  • Immigrants
  • Community-based Organizations

Subcommittees will begin meeting soon, and those interested in joining one are invited to email

PPG has been working to raise awareness on census issues by explaining the importance of the census for funding and representation, addressing perceptions and concerns about the census, and examining Western New York’s traditionally undercounted communities. On April 18, PPG director Andrea Ó Súilleabháin provided testimony at the New York State Complete Count Commission’s public hearing in Buffalo, sharing research PPG has completed on hard-to-count neighborhoods across Western New York and highlighting community assets for “get out the count” efforts in those areas. On June 19, PPG released a policy brief entitled “Census 2020: Making Western New York Count,” which offers a brief overview of the 2020 Census and why it matters for Western New York.

PPG is happy to announce support for our capacity building and technical assistance efforts from the New York State Census Equity Fund and the Western New York Foundation. Through this grant, PPG will engage and train our partners and other community-based organizations located in historically undercounted communities. We will produce a localized “get out the count” toolkit, informed by community-based research to address local concerns about census-taking and provide creative solutions and recommendations.

In addition, PPG has planned three workshops on the census, which are free and open to the public. The interactive sessions will go over what’s new in Census 2020 and address how to overcome concerns and barriers to reach a complete count. These sessions will explore strategies and action steps to “get out the count” next year. The workshops will take place on Wednesday, July 17 from 12:30pm-2:00pm; Wednesday, July 31 from 12:30pm-2:00pm; and Wednesday, August 14 from 5:30pm-6:30pm. They will take place in the Buffalo Commons Classroom at 617 Main Street, Floor 3R. Lunch/dinner will be provided. Reach out to to RSVP or learn more.

The 2020 Census provides data about communities which will be relied upon for a decade. Ensuring a fair and accurate count is integral for every community in Western New York. PPG is committed to “get out the count” and will continue to provide resources to trusted community voices and partners about why the census matters and what we can do to support these efforts.

To learn more or to get involved in Community Agenda activities on Census 2020, please contact Anna Blatto, AmeriCorps Communications and Research Fellow at PPG and the author of this update, at

Image: views from the Buffalo and Erie County Complete Count Committee Kickoff Event