Education, health care, nutrition and more: Why the Census matters to Alabama

The 2020 Census is nearly here. In mid-March, the Census Bureau will begin mailing out informational postcards to all U.S. residents. The postcards will provide instructions on how to complete the Census for your household.

Filling out the Census is important for a number of reasons. Alabama’s count impacts our state legislative districts and our representation in Congress. But it also influences the quality of life in our communities in a whole host of ways.

In 2016, Alabama received more than $13 billion for 55 federal programs based on data from the 2010 Census. Our Census count affected $4.6 billion that year in federal funding for health coverage through Medicaid and ALL Kids. It also shaped another $2.7 billion for education, including special education, student loans, and Title I grants to schools with high shares of students from households with low incomes.

The effects of Alabama’s Census numbers don’t stop there. The Census count guides more than $1.6 billion annually for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), school meals and other nutrition services. And it affects funding for a range of other services, including affordable housing, child care, transportation and water treatment. The Census has important implications for virtually every aspect of our daily lives.

The Census brings money back home to your community! In 2016, Alabama received more than $13 billion for 55 federal programs based on our Census numbers. Here's where some of those dollars went. Health: $4.6 billion. Education: $2.7 billion. Nutrition: $1.6 billion. Housing: $965 million. Family supports: $272 million. Community development: $201 million. Worker supports: $80 million. Source: The George Washington University Institute of Public Policy, January 2019.

What you need to know to participate in the Census

Here are a few important things to know regarding the Census:

  • Postcards from the U.S. Census Bureau are scheduled to arrive between March 14 and April 1.
  • Officials encourage people to fill out the Census online if possible. But you also can complete the survey over the phone or request a paper copy in the mail.
  • The Census survey is just 10 questions, and it should only take you about 10 minutes to complete.
  • You will not need to provide a Social Security number to take the survey. Just your address will do.
  • Your responses are completely confidential. The Census Bureau uses them only for statistical purposes.
  • If you have any questions, visit or call 800-923-8282.

Alabama Arise is putting together informational toolkits for groups to share with folks all across the state. If you want information to share with your community, please email me at Let’s make sure we each take 10 minutes to secure the funding we need for the next 10 years!