The Montana Department of Commerce will be using monies from the Coronavirus Relief Fund to help more Montanans complete the 2020 Census.

Spokesperson Emilie Ritter Saunders has details.

“The Department of Commerce supports the decennial census every 10 years by making sure that Montanans are aware of the census,” said Ritter Saunders. To help them be aware that it's happening and to understand why it's so important to respond to the census.”

Ritter Saunders said the Census outreach was stalled due to the outbreak of COVID 19, so some extra help was provided.

“The Census count continues into the fall,” she said. “It was extended due to some effects of COVID-19. So the Governor has allocated about $530,000 to the Department to allow us to continue that census education and outreach through the end of the count.”

The Census shapes local voting and school districts, and it determines whether Montana will receive a second seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. For each Montanan not counted, the state stands to lose an estimated $20,000 in federal funding over the next decade.

Ritter Saunders said the Department of Commerce is getting some valuable assistance from other state groups.

“The Department of Commerce is partnering with the Montana Nonprofit +Association, Western Native Voice and Forward Montana foundation to conduct targeted outreach aimed at some of the low self response areas of the state and really encouraging those residents to make sure that they fill out their census,” she said. “We're also using a share of this money to contract with the Missoula based marketing firm Windfall to make sure that we're strategically reaching households in those low response areas.”

An accurate and complete count of all Montanans is critical for determining the federal funding distributed to the state, it shapes local voting and school districts, and it determines whether Montana will receive a second seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. For each Montanan not counted, the state stands to lose an estimated $20,000 in federal funding over the next decade.

Montanans who haven’t yet responded to the 2020 Census can do so by clicking here,  by calling 1-844-330-2020, or by mailing in their Census form if they received one in the mail.

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