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Stand up and be counted, Berks County

By Derek Harris, Research and Technology Coordinator, Greater Reading Chamber Alliance

Jul 17, 2020

Hey Berks County, there’s still time to shape the future of our community by filling out the Census. It happens only once every 10 years as outlined in the Constitution and is intended to provide an accurate count of every single person living in America. While it is important to have everyone counted, there are numerous other reasons why the Census is essential. Billions of dollars of funding are tied to Census counts and distributed to states and counties. The information from the Census is crucial in our work here at the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance (GRCA) and it is what funds many of the projects and activities that take place in our community.

Did you know?

  • Census results affect planning and funding for education—including programs such as Head Start, Pell Grants, school lunches, rural education, adult education, and grants for preschool special education.
  • Census results affect planning and funding for infrastructure—including programs for highway planning and construction, Section 8 housing, federal transit, community development, and rural water and waste disposal systems.
  • Census results affect planning and funding for employment and training—including programs for vocational rehabilitation state grants, dislocated workers, and American Indian and Alaska Native employment and training.

While all of the things listed above are important to all communities, the most recent example of this is the funding provided for COVID-19 relief. Berks County received $38 million dollars distributed at the state level. This may seem like a large sum of money, but it is much less than some of the surrounding counties. Counties with populations of more than 500,000 people received money directly from the federal government and have had a head start distributing that money to refuel their local economies. Lancaster County received more than $95 million in funding, yet it only has about 120,000 more residents. This large discrepancy, in part, can be remedied through an accurate Census count. In a typical Census year, Census activities would be wrapping up, but this year the Census is not set to close until the end of October.

Recently, the Census created a new tool to show the vulnerability of communities in dealing with COVID-19. To look at this new tool, you can follow this link. Companies like Wegmans Food Markets and Costco use information generated by the Census to decide on their future store locations. Census counts are used for redistricting and Congressional representation as well. When we are all counted, our voices are that much louder.

Take 5 minutes to fill out your Census today to help fund road projects like 422, keep our strong representation in Congress and to reestablish Berks County as a vibrant and growing community.

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