Did you know that when you participate in the 2020 Census, you will be helping to build schools, providing funding for public safety, and even helping businesses decide where to build factories, offices and stores? Census 2020 may seem like a long way off, but Valley communities are gearing up for regional outreach efforts to take place in 2019 and 2020. April 1, 2020, is the official Census Day. Why are census counts important? Knowing the exact number of people who live in a state, county or municipality is important for many reasons. For example: According to a George Washington University study, Arizona receives about $13.5 billion in 16 federal assistance programs based on its current population estimates. That equates to about $1,979 in funding per person, per year. The Census determines how more than $675 billion in federal money is spent. This money supports state, county and community programs. Population numbers decide how many seats a state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives. The number of representatives is fixed at 435, so some states may lose and some may gain representatives. Projections indicate that Arizona should gain a 10th Congressional seat, adding at least one seat after the 2020 census. Population numbers also are used in redistricting, deciding how areas will be divided into sections based on the number of seats a state has. Knowing where population growth is happening helps guide planning efforts, such as where to add public safety personnel, schools, infrastructure, etc. “A new goal in 2020 will be explaining how the census is different this time because of new online and digital opportunities,” said Pauline Nunez, partnership coordinator for the Denver Regional Census Office, which oversees Arizona. “Online response is a new choice for the census. This different approach will be a key part of our regional messaging,” she said. Along with coordinating regional outreach, the Maricopa Association of Governments assists local governments (cities, towns, counties and Native American Indian Communities) with verifying and updating address lists to ensure that every household receives a census notification. For more information, visit www.magcensus.com.