CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Nearly 30 West Virginia organizations have formed to create a coalition with the 2020 United States Census on the horizon.

Jennifer Wells, Executive Director of the West Virginia Healthy Kids and Family Coalition and other organizational leaders announced on Monday the CountMeInWV Coalition, a grassroots campaign to ensure that every West Virginia is counted in the Census.

“Getting the word out as often and consistently as we can is the first thing,” Wells said of the coalition’s goals. “We have built an online platform on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. We want folks to connect with that where we can share out stories and we can share out data to build a conversation.”

Data from the US Census determines the allocation of over $6 billion of federal investment in West Virginia every year, according to a release from the coalition. Wells said getting a complete count of the population is vital to ensure these funds go to those who need them.

Wells said citizens do not realize the data informs local policies, state policies, federal policies, and allocations for much-needed programs connected to transportation, roads, and schools. She even said her neighborhood has been affected by the lack of those participating in the census.

“The majority of people in my neighborhood who I have done informal conversations and interviews with don’t take the census so we are not recorded,” she said.

“According to the government data to some degree, we don’t exist. When someone decides to build a supermarket, they pull the data from our area and we are not there.”

A release said the coalition’s message for the campaign is that the 2020 Census is easy, safe and vitally important to West Virginians.

Included in the coalition are West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition, KidsCount, WV State NAACP, Covenant House, US Census Bureau, and WVSU Social Work Department.

The Census, that consists of 10 questions and takes an average of 10 minutes, will begin on April 1, 2020, and lasts until the end of June. In-person, online and phone applications are available.

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