Running Strong for American Indian Youth launches major push for 2020 Census 

New Effort partners with the 2020 Census Bureau

From Running Strong for American Indian Youth 

ALEXANDRIA, VA and PINE RIDGE, SD – Running Strong for American Indian Youth today launched a major new effort with the 2020 Census Bureau to make sure Native Americans count. Beat the Drum. Be Counted! will work in communities across Indian Country to improve the accuracy of this key measure used to determine federal funding for critical programs.

Running Strong is a nonprofit founded by Olympic Gold Medalist Billy Mills (Oglala Lakota). It helps Native American people meet their immediate survival needs while creating opportunities for self-sufficiency and self-esteem in Native American youth. These opportunities, such as improved schooling and healthcare, rely on accurate representation in the census – but, historically, Native Americans have been dramatically underserved in part due to undercounting. Beat the Drum. Be Counted! will push to improve counting accuracy in these communities with targeted outreach and strategic messaging.

“The Census makes a real impact in people’s lives,“ said Running Strong and Beat the Drum spokesperson Billy Mills. “You can feel it in understaffed health clinics, and see it in everything from roads to veterans’ support to housing assistance. As an American who went to public schools and served our country, I know first hand how much we rely on these programs.

“Everyone deserves to be counted – and that starts in our Native American communities,” said Mills. 

Native Americans and Alaskan Natives living on reservations or in Native communities were undercounted by approximately 4.9 percent in the 2010 Census. That is more than double the undercount rate of the next closest population group. This inaccuracy has financial ramifications resulting in a loss of millions of annual federal dollars to Indian Country that would otherwise be used to improve public utilities such as public schooling and transportation infrastructure. It also has political consequences in redistricting voting geographies and allocating Congressional seats.

Beat the Drum. Be Counted! will address this inequality with a series of PSAs, social media campaigns, phone banking, and local organization partnerships designed to inform and empower local marginalized residents about their census rights. 

“The 2020 Census has been specifically designed to improve response rates from all over Indian Country, but with Running Strong and Billy on board we hope for unprecedented turnout,” said Anne Eagle Bull, 2020 Census Tribal Partner Specialist. “This is an exciting joint venture and we are excited to partner with Running Strong.”

More information, outreach materials and updates on Beat the Drum. Be Counted! events will be available at Running Strong for American Indian Youth’s website, www.IndianYouth.org.

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