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Host a Virtual

In just a few hours, creators and organizations of all kinds work together to generate hundreds of pieces of compelling media that spread census awareness and inoculate against disinformation.


Starting in 2018 the Census Open Innovation Labs (COIL) began hosting create-a-thons across the country to support and amplify outreach efforts of organizations that have limited creative and/or digital capacity. With the ultimate goal of increasing self-response rates among the hardest to count communities, these organizations are paired with a range of creative talent who can collaboratively generate digital media and compelling messages that spread awareness about the 2020 Census, tailored to their specific needs.

With over 30 organizations served and thousands of pieces of content created, the COIL team has created a blueprint to host your own virtual create-a-thon.

Gallery of community-sourced 2020 Census social media memes and graphics

Why Virtual?

After two years of piloting these collaborative events, we’ve taken our learnings and best practices to offer our Create-a-thon format online. With the extension of the Census deadline to October 31st, it’s as important as ever for trusted messengers to develop engaging and accurate content reaching hard to count communities. This guide will help you lead your event virtually.

Initial Considerations:

  • How long should your event be?
  • Who will be invited?
  • What goals are you trying to achieve?
  • Who will you be reaching?

Still want to host your own?

Awesome! Create-a-thons are hosted by the Census Bureau, Complete Count Committees, advocacy groups, community organizers, students, and the public. If you haven’t already, start by filling out this form to let our team know you’re interested.

You can take this toolkit and run with it, or reach out to us for extra support.

Don't have access to Google Docs?
Download the toolkit as a PDF here

Where does all the content live?

Our partners at Rock the Vote and U.Group developed creativesforthecount.org, an online repository where you can browse, filter by audience type, download, and add your own Census content to the gallery. We recommend checking it out to get inspired for your Create-a-thon — and you might even find some content you want to use!

Gallery of community-sourced 2020 Census social media memes and titled Check Out What We've Made So Far

The Census is happening now – so what’s the big deal?

The count of United States population sets our country’s trajectory for the next decade, determining congressional apportionment (the number of seats each state gets in the House of Representatives), redistricting, and how the allocation of more than $675 billion dollars is distributed annually to cities across the nation.

Racial and ethnic minorities, immigrants, LGBTQ people, people experiencing homelessness, rural communities, people with low incomes, renters, single-parent households, people with limited English proficiency, and young children are overwhelmingly undercounted in the census.

But you can help change that.

#CreativesForTheCount aims to reach historically undercounted groups with facts and information via content that is compelling, easy to understand, in their native languages, and easy to share online. You can help us reach these communities with your shareables, memes, videos and images. Your content will help us continue to get out the count for the Census 2020.

Group of participants working together at a create a thon

“Beyond building resources for outreach and momentum for the count, we’re responding to excitement–and concern– within the creative community by refining a model for individuals, agencies and creative organizations to direct their energy.”