Every 10 years the census counts everyone living in the United States

However, there are many communities around the nation that go uncounted

The Census Open Innovation Labs aimed to increase participation in creative and innovative ways

We brought together national partners, designers, storytellers, creatives and trusted voices in the community.

Together, they co-created meaningful content and engaging messaging used to inspire our nation to #GetOutTheCount

Here is our story...

white decorative arrow pointing to top right corner decorative illustration of colorful circles, ovals, and stars

Census Accelerate

Impact Report


A Letter from the Accelerate Team

Dear reader,

Starting up the first innovation lab in a 120+-year-old federal agency has required a delicate balance of experimentation with a steadfast commitment to better serving the American people. It can be messy, uncomfortable even, to disrupt tried-and-true systems and ways of working, especially in large institutions where such norms are put in place to protect the public.

But in our radically changing world, if we don’t keep up with the pace of change, then there is a cost to not trying new things. Think about how much society has changed in the decade since our last Decennial Census in 2010: we shifted from Blockbuster to Netflix, taxicabs to Uber and Lyft, hotels to Airbnbs. And even in 2020, when the Census Bureau had one plan and the world had another, agility became our institution’s greatest asset.

In an effort as monumental as the 2020 Census -- our nation’s largest peacetime mobilization -- our prerogative is to find new ways to more deeply collaborate with industries, organizations, and communities who have led many of the changes we’ve seen, and learn how to reach the hardest-to-count community members in the digital age.

That’s exactly what we’ve done with Census Accelerate, a program of the Census Open Innovation Labs that was established to foster new collaborations in order to ensure a more complete and accurate count of our nation. In the last few years, we’ve:

  • Hosted over 100 workshops with 700+ attendees
  • Helped generate over 1000 pieces of onpne shareable content
  • Worked with 40+ partners
  • Gained 200+ creative ambassadors
  • Reached every traditionally hard-to-count community
  • Helped generate over 750 videos promoting the Census through the Census Bureau’s first-ever video prize competition

We wrote this report to demonstrate the impact of our activities, and to serve as a blueprint for others who are seeking new modes of civic engagement that are adaptive to the times in which we live.

To our many partners, we thank you for joining the movement and making this work possible.


The Census Accelerate Team
Census Open Innovation Labs

The Challenge The Process Our Impact

decorative starThe Challenge

The way the world communicates has changed radically in the last 10 years. Relying solely on traditional print ads and TV campaigns wouldn’t work in our social media savvy society today. In order to get a complete and accurate 2020 census count, we needed to engage the community directly. In 2017, we expanded our reach, pushed the boundaries and asked creatives and community leaders to join us in co-creating digital content and outreach strategies, in the voice of the people they represent. The challenge of bridging the digital divide between the Census Bureau and hard to count communities around the nation is what birthed the Census Accelerate initiative.

Who We Are: Census Accelerate

We are a team of entrepreneurs, designers, technology experts, civic leaders, and storytellers who bring design thinking, cross-sector collaboration, and hyper creativity to ensure everyone is represented in the 2020 Census.

3 people gathered around a laptop at a Census workshop
Census Accelerate was established to     foster new collaborations in order to     ensure a more complete and accurate     count of our nation.

The census aims to count an increasingly diverse and growing population of about 330 million people in more than 140 million housing units, presenting our team with new challenges and opportunities. This 2020 Census is the first ever “digital-first” census, which means there’s now an option to respond to the census online or by phone, in addition to the traditional paper form. Getting this message out to hard-to-count communities across the nation is critical.

We knew that in order to communicate the importance of the 2020 census, we needed to engage communities in a truly authentic and interactive way. We developed the following Theory of Change model to help guide our decision making process as we charted towards a more complete and accurate 2020 census count.

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Theory of Change

decorative illustration of stars, circles, and squares in various colors, arranged vertically in a waving line shape

Our theory of change posits that establishing deep relationships and collaborative efforts with industries, organizations, communities and creative professionals leads to exponentially better solutions than if one organization were to try to solve them on their own.

Our partners are expert in what they do; to better engage them we must co-design solutions with them rather than prescribe what to do, and we must also bring them together with unlikely partners to develop creative solutions rooted in data and culture.

  • Partnering with the entertainment industry and media outlets can magnify and spread information about the importance of being counted with language that resonates with communities.
  • Partnering with technology companies can increase the trust in and security of the census and the information that surrounds it, as these organizations can use their platforms to counter disinformation, cybersecurity threats, and other impediments to an accurate count. They can also be a powerful catalyst for getting people to respond.

The ability to create space for innovation has the power to catalyze new approaches, ideas, collaboration and outcomes.

Through our workshops, open source briefs, and national creative efforts we were able to bring together cross-sector collaborators with diverse perspectives to strengthen civic engagement. In fact, during our first-ever video prize challenge we galvanized the creation of over 750 videos promoting the census. And developing strong, replicable models for collaboration has been key to scaling them. That’s what we did with our Create-a-thon series, Creatives for the Count. We made this workshop model available to the public and grew it exponentially thanks to the Bureau's partnerships teams as well as externally-organized Complete Count Committees.


Trusted messengers and strong messages are critical to the success of the 2020 Census.

Bringing together creative professionals, national advocacy organizations, and local leaders amplified trusted voices in hard-to-count communities and resulted in stronger messages than with top-down messaging coming from the Census Bureau alone. These messengers -- whether they be local faith leaders, celebrities who have strong influence in hard-to-count communities, or advocacy organizations, are key in spreading information about the importance of being counted with language that resonates with communities.



The Process

Census Accelerate sought out to test a new design-thinking model, to activate communities in a non-traditional way, to bring passionate folks from all walks of life together that care deeply about increasing awareness for the 2020 Census- and to work alongside the government in these outreach efforts. We used human-centered design principles as the base for the development of all of our programs and workshops. By refocusing our goal of getting everyone in America counted and centering our efforts on hard to count communities, we were able to develop powerful content generating program models that yielded meaningful community lead content and messaging.

Our Programs

Case Study


Meme with photo of Cardi B as a little girl, with overlaid text that reads Mi mami dice que me cuentas porque me quentas, census2020, hagasecontar.

Who: USC Annenberg Innovation Lab, CA Census 2020, LA Regional Office, U.S. Census Bureau, NALEO, LA Mayor’s Office, Latino Community Foundation

What: Create-a-thon

Where: Los Angeles, CA

When: August 3rd, 2018

How: Design concepts for innovative digital outreach and content targeting the hispanic population for the 2020 Census

Census Solutions Workshops

Our Partners wanted more out of their engagements with the Census Bureau, so we designed the Census Solutions Workshop. The Census Solutions Workshop uses Ideation (or "idea generation") methodology with partners and participants to generate new community outreach ideas customized to the needs of the hard to count communities they are each serving.

In 2017 The Census Accelerate team began using the Census Solutions Workshop with partners at conferences around the country. The goal was to bring diverse communities together to generate new ideas for campaigns, media, and activities to help Get Out the Count for the 2020 Census. We designed, tested, and iterated a series of standalone pilot events focusing particularly on traditional hard-to-count (HTC) communities.

  • At each workshop, creative and innovative ideas started to emerge. Here is a snapshot of some of the outcomes:
  • A neighbor-to-neighbor toolkit for spreading awareness of the census.
  • A toolkit and campaign to engage local libraries in the census count, focusing on people experiencing homelessness.
  • A teen Census Ambassador Program.
  • A census “Get Out the Count” campaign block party for local activation.
  • We’ve hosted 30 Census Solutions Workshops to date.
  • Co-hosted close to 30 Census Solutions Workshops.
Open quote Mara Abrams, Co-founder of Census Accelerate

In these workshops, people who never saw themselves as creative started to discover a childlike playfulness in generating new ideas around the census. We use different exercises to turn off the filter that often tells people that their ideas are crazy or bad, thus opening a new space of possibilities, especially when combined with other ideas from people who are different from them.

Mara Abrams,
Co-founder, Census Accelerate

Close quote

Creatives for the Count

Case Study

Pride Create-a-thon

Meme with 6 hearts in rainbow colors with text Our population comes in all colors.

Who: Task Force, Rock the Vote, The Leadership Conference, Microsoft, National LGBTQ Taskforce

What: LGBTQ Create-a-thon

Where: Washington, DC (Mt. Vernon Place United Methodist Church, adjacent to Microsoft Innovation & Policy Center

When: June 13, 2019

How: Aimed at diving into targeted briefs from national and local LGBTQ advocacy organizations, connect with a diverse group of talented people, and collaboratively generate digital media and compelling messages that spread awareness about the 2020 Census to communicate the importance of a complete and accurate count for the LGBTQ community.

Create-a-thon Model

Many organizations leading 2020 Census outreach efforts have limited creative and/or digital capacity. Yet, as trusted voices, it is vital that their outreach efforts be amplified online to reach as many of their community members as possible. Create-a-thon events bring together creative talent (designers, copywriters, content strategists, video-makers, etc.) with those organizations so that they can conduct more effective digital outreach, with the ultimate goal of increasing self-response rates among the hardest-to-count communities they serve. We called the broader effort to organize Create-a-thons across the country “Creatives for the Count.” The COIL team has hosted 22 Creative-a-thon events across the country.

Illustration of a person's face
Illustration of a person's face
Illustration of a person's face
Open quote Colin Maclay Census Counts Executive Director

The first Create-a-thon we co-hosted with COIL cemented what has become a three year journey working on the 2020 census, building a team, working with partner orgs, creating media and encouraging and serving others to run campaigns.

Colin Maclay
Census Counts
Executive Director and
Research Professor USC
Annenberg School Innovation Lab

Close quote

Creative Ambassadors Program

We launched the Creative Ambassador program in efforts to encourage artists and storytellers to respond to calls for census content design support from our community partners. We engaged just over 25 professionals in our Creative Ambassadors Program. A highly engaged team of creative ambassadors develop a DIY Content Toolkit (.zip 42MB) , for and by creatives, guiding them to make content to share within their networks.

Creative Events and Workshops Growth

Census Accelerate facilitated 20 create-a-thons throughout the U.S.

We've partnered with dozens of diverse organizations to bring these events to hard-to-count communities across the nation, here’s a snapshot of some of our collaborators:

Rock the Vote logo Connecticut Counts 2020 logo Neue South logo
Lincoln Center logo Voto Latino logo
Shake Shack logo UTEP logo LA2050 logo
PFLAG logo United Way logo

Our Partners

Case Study


Civic Entrepreurship Class

Meme with black profile silhouette of a person with text overlaid Si Se Puede You can Do it

Who: Students from Walsh School of Foreign Service

What: Design for Democracy: Civic Entrepreneurship for a Changing World

Where: Georgetown University, Walsh School of Foreign Service

When: Spring Semester, 2020

How: Census Accelerate partnered with Georgetown University on a class on civic entrepreneurship. Students were charged with developing a prototype and delivering a scalable project to Get Out the Count, using human-centered design and other open innovation methods.

Who’s Been Involved?

Partnerships are key to the success of Census Accelerate efforts. Our Creatives for the Count model has been used far and wide by key organizations reaching hard to count communities in the US. We’ve partnered with advocacy groups, grassroots organizations, non profits, businesses, Complete Count Committees and many more...

Logo collage that includes Census Counts 2020, National LGBTQ Taskforce, National Congress of American Indians, and Count All Kids

Complete Count Committees (CCC) have been invaluable in expanding these methodologies for creative collaboration with hard-to-count communities, and are key vehicles to nurturing mutual efforts and bringing together state, local and tribal governments; the third sector, private sector and communities.

Open quote Meghan Maury, Policy Director, National LGBTQ Task Force

The Census Accelerate team brought together about 75 people to think, dream, and design together… The event had given us more than just new materials to use — it left us feeling empowered to create.

Meghan Maury
Policy Director,
National LGBTQ Task Force

Close quote

Big Tech Partnerships

The massive boom of the technology sector in the last decade has created accompanying concerns around misinformation, disinformation, and cybersecurity. Since 2017, the Census Accelerate team has utilized human-centered design principles to engage industry and ‘Big Tech,’ as a way to activate technology and media industry and leverage their platforms to educate about the importance of the 2020 Census and to inform the public with accurate and factual information. From 2017-2018, Census Accelerate launched a series of roadshows engaging the tech sector, including companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, and Google.

Logo collage that includes Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook and Google

Our Impact

Census Accelerate sought out to test a new design-thinking model, to activate communities in a non-traditional way, to bring passionate folks from all walks of life together that care deeply about increasing awareness for the 2020 Census- and to work alongside the government in these outreach efforts. We used human-centered design principles as the base for the development of all of our programs and workshops. By refocusing our goal of getting everyone in America counted and centering our efforts on hard to count communities, we were able to develop powerful content generating program models that yielded meaningful community lead content and messaging.

What We've Created

Case Study

LA - Red Bull Media House

Meme with image of two men with overlaid text 10 minutes, 10 questions. You can do this.

Who: Annenberg Lab, Shared Mission Network, Rise Up as 1?

What: Los Angeles Create-a-thon

Where: Red Bull Media House in Santa Monica, California

When: November 2018

How: Aimed at educating and creating content assets that communicates the importance of the 2020 Census and how that influences minority millennials.

The content that’s been developed has ranged from professional quality graphic designs, to user generated videos, to funny memes, to simple hand-drawn sketches and even a few songs. What has mattered most is that the content delivers information and calls to action in the most authentic ways that speak to people’s culture, worldview, and personality.

Gif alternating between various social media Census content styled as it would be on Instagram
Engaging representatives and     creatives from the target audience     themselves to create content and     develop messaging, makes them active     producers rather than just passive     consumers of digital media.

Who We've Reached

Through the Census Solutions Workshops and Create-a-thon events, Census Accelerate has engaged every single traditional hard-to-count community from children ages 0-5, LGBTQ communities, ethnic minorities, immigrants, people experiencing homelessness, rural communities, people with low incomes, renters and people with limited English proficiency. Take a look at our impact snapshot:

Since 2019 we’ve….....

  • Hosted 20 creative workshops with 700+ attendees in total
  • Produced over 1,000 pieces of content
  • Worked with 40+ partners and beneficiaries of the content
  • Convened hundreds of creatives ambassadors to develop engaging content
  • Reached every traditionally hard-to-count audience
  • Garnered nearly 30,000 website visits to creativesforthecount.org
  • Over 100 Census Solution Workshops engaging partners nationwide through our design thinking model.

Spreading the Word: Content Sharing Initiatives

Case Study


Meme with woman holding a raised fist, and overlaid text that reads No papers, no fear, we deserve to be counted here.

Who: ABNY, Brooklyn Public Library, Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York, New York Branch NAACP, NYIC, and Queens Public Library

What: New York City's first virtual Create-a-thon

Where: Virtual

When: June 20, 2020

How: With the theme of non-traditional housing, the event participants from across New York City produced community-driven outreach materials for distribution and use by census partners. Content was created for reaching out to multi-generational & NYC’s “doubled-up” households, multi-family dwellings, split custody arrangements, individuals forgotten on the census, and highly mobile families across New York City. The event title NYC@Home was selected to indicate the unique residential situation of many New Yorkers, as well as reference the quarantining taking place due to the Covid-19 pandemic.


Our content needed to be centralized and accessible to trusted voices in communities around the nation. In 2019, Census Accelerate created a partnership with Rock the Vote and U.Group, who built creativesforthecount.org. This new platform allowed any partner or community member the chance to upload their own content or download others’ content. Users can filter the content by location, keywords, event type, and hard-to-count population. Creative content ranging from gifs to memes to posters and more are all free and accessible for census advocates to utilize as they educate their communities about the 2020 Census.

Gif illustration of scrolling window of Census social media content
The site houses over 1000+ pieces of     content from 15+ cities across the     country, garnering nearly 30,000 visits     to date.

Get Out the Count Video Prize Challenge

In March 2020, we put out a call to video content creators across the country…and they answered.

Census Accelerate launched the first-ever U.S. Census Bureau video prize challenge to reward the most engaging, impactful and informative original videos about the 2020 Census - with a total of $50,000 in cash prizes. The competition challenged contestants to make the 2020 Census a must-do for communities, particularly those considered “hard-to-count,” such as racial and ethnic minorities, young and mobile populations, families with young children, LGBTQ+, non-English speakers, among others.

After receiving over 750 video submissions in over a dozen languages from all across the United States, our panel of judges narrowed it down to three videos with cash prizes totaling $50,000. We recruited over 100 judges from across the U.S. Census Bureau, media companies and organizations representing hard to count communities across the nation. Our challenge allowed many judges the opportunity to reconnect with the heart and community of census work. We received very positive responses from our judges:

Open quote Peter Griffith, U.S. Census Bureau

Each video told a story I wanted and needed to see, hear and experience. The videos spoke of our humanity by highlighting the realities of what the 2020 Census is really all about--it’s about people, not just stats. That's my takeaway. I completed my judging assignment today with part of our nation engraved on my heart. Thank you for that.

Peter Griffith,
U.S. Census Bureau Senior
Partnership Specialist, Los Angeles

Close quote

The Get Out The Count Video Prize Challenge concluded with a Livestream Awards Ceremony (viewed over 5,000 times) to announce the winners and highlight some of the engaging census videos created for and by communities across the country. More than 2,000+ viewers tuned-into the livestream, which featured 14 finalists’ videos and three highlight reels showcasing the best videos in the categories of: Musicals & Songs and COIL’s Top Picks. Viewers shared:

Photo of a classroom with sketched, white outlines of people sitting on the desks overlaid onto the image.
“This is so fantastic! We're honored to     be part of this creative and     groundbreaking campaign to help     everyone in the US be counted!”  
   - Tufus Census Action

The top 20 videos have been viewed over 15,000 times and the contest generated over 100,000 visits to the challenge.gov website (total of 103,182 since March 23.

The winners of the Get Out The Count Video Prize Challenge were:

Keaton Davis — Make It Count / #2020Census

Man and woman sitting on sofa, clapping and laughing as in surprise

Grand Prize Awarded $30,000

Latino Community Fund Georgia — Me Toca a Mi

Woman clapping and raising her hands in a yay gesture

Runner Up Prize Awarded $10,000

Austyn Malynn — The 2020 Census Song!

Girl strumming a ukelele, smiling, laughing, and mouthing thank you

Student Prize Awarded $10,000


Civic Alliance

Census Accelerate diversified its impact strategy by collaborating with the private sector. We worked with Civic Alliance -- a nonpartisan group of businesses working together on wide scale civic participation in order to focus on what companies can do to get out the count.

In March 2020, Census Accelerate teamed up with Civic Alliance to run a 2020 Census sprint -- a process to accelerate actionable outcomes -- in order to engage multiple national consumer brands and tech platforms that could reach large numbers of citizens and encourage them to participate in the 2020 census. Over the course of the sprint, each company developed a product, campaign, or feature, intended to reach their customers and/or employees. Experts within and outside the U.S. Census Bureau were made available to advise member companies throughout the sprint. Participating companies were invited to publicly share their sprint plans and ideas. As a result of changes necessitated by the COVID pandemic, the scheduled event was cancelled. However, to date, we catalyzed collaborations with the following companies:

Collage of logos for ATTN:, Twitter, Gap, Inc., Uber, Lyft, Snap, and Univision

Case Study

Digital Action Weekend

Who: Census Bureau partners and the public at large

What: Digital Action Weekend

Where: Social media Channels

When: May 1-3, 2020

How: Aimed at disseminating user generated content available on creative for thecount.org and census bureau media to and activate the public and Census partners.

Digital Action Weekend

In May 2020, Census Accelerate joined forces with CPEP and NPP on a national day of digital action to activate influencers, celebrities and partners at once. This was in an effort to create a unified and concentrated drumbeat in pushing creative census content out online. The weekend focused on two distinct but related efforts: 1) celebrity/influencer activation & 2) Tweet-a-thon (Census Accelerate) that was rolled up into a single weekend event from May 1-3.

We worked with Twitter and Census Counts for a day of digital action to deploy over 500 pieces of content from creativesforthecount.org and partner content. In addition, CPEP/NPP activated influencers and celebrities by leveraging the support from governors, trusted voices, SCCCs, CCCs and other partners to achieve a groundswell of content distribution and make #2020Census trend on Twitter.

Screenshot of the interace for a resource guide website
We created a resource guide that     included community generated and     open sourced digital content as well  
  as 2020 Census official campaign  
  social media content, video scripts  
  and sample posts that were shared  
  far and wide with partners and  

Due to the enormous success of Digital Action Weekend, there was a spike for #creativeforthecount and the Get Out the Count Video Challenge distribution, generating thousands of visits to the challenge.gov website (total of 103,182 since March 23) that inevitably drove up our submissions rate. Promotion of census content was seen across Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. Over four hundred new posts were generated on Facebook alone, with the most engaging post and most viewed video from the School District of Palm Beach County, generating over 4,600 views.

In addition, as a result of this massive push, over one thousand new users visited our accelerate.census.gov website and over two thousands new users utilized the content on the creativesforthecount.org website.

Case Study

Count All Kids

Who: Count All Kids, Partnership for America’s Children, Beta NYC. NYC Media Lab, Working Not Working (list partners: host & beneficiary orgs)

What: Creatives for the Count: Kids Under Five

Where: NYC Media

When: January 22, 2020

How: Aimed at bringing together people passionate about 2020 Census and to collaboratively generate digital media and compelling messages that spread awareness about the 2020 count within families with kids under five.

The Opportunity Project 2020 Census Sprint

The Opportunity Project (TOP), also led by Census Open Innovation Labs (COIL), brings together government agencies, technology teams, and community organizations to address national challenges powered by federal open data. In 2020, Census Accelerate recruited technology teams and community groups and facilitated a collaborative process for building digital tools that focused on enumerator recruitment, the digital divide, digital literacy, and reaching hard-to-count communities.

We recruited over twelve technology organizations including Measure of America, Next Day Better and Voatz and ten community organizations including Civic Georgia, Color of Challenge, United Way and Univision to work together to develop two digital products that address some of the major challenges of census operations and outreach.

For America’s Children, City of Baltimore, Civic Georgia, Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership (HTTP), Color of Change, State Voices, United Way, National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO), UnidosUS, Univision and more.

Our products included the Census Intelligence Center by Civis Analytics and Data 2 Go for Census Outreach by Measure of America.

Collage of logos of organizations described above Collage with photo of woman participate in a workshop, and two screenshots of products created through the TOP 2020 Census sprint

Case Study

Indian Country Counts

What: Indian Country Counts Create-a-thon at the 2019 NCAI Annual Conference and Marketplace

What: Creatives for the Count: Kids Under Five

Where: Albuquerque, New Mexico

When: October 19, 2019

How: The National Congress of American Indians joined forces with The Census Open Innovation Labs for New Mexico's first creative workshop to rapidly generate content for Indian Country census outreach. Aimed at gathering folks together to learn about the importance of Census in tribal communities and collaboratively generate digital media and compelling messages that spread awareness about the 2020 Census. This event is a part of the broader Civic Engagement Day hosted by the National Congress of American Indians.

Combating Misinformation with Big Tech

Census Accelerate partnered with Big tech companies about the importance of communicating to the public accurate information about the 2020 Census and protecting it from interference. Census Accelerate and partners led a concerted effort to address misinformation shared on social media platforms.

In the spring and fall of 2019, Census Accelerate launched a series of convenings that brought together technology experts and civic leaders invested in successful digital strategies for the 2020 Census. At the Civic Digital Strategy Workshop at Facebook’s Washington, DC offices, we convenedalong with Twitter, Google, and other civil society groups, These convenings focused on technology, civil society, and social platforms' roles in informing the public about the importance of being counted.

The Civic Digital Strategy series consisted of three training and workshops that brought together Twitter, Google and Facebook alongside other civil society groups. These events focused on technology, civil society, and social platforms' roles in informing the public about the importance of being counted and ensuring a coordinated response across all partners and stakeholders.

It also resulted in a commitment to combat fraudulent activities to help protect the integrity of the 2020 Census — which included preventing the spread of fake, false, and inaccurate information that can negatively influence the 2020 Census.

A variety of illustrated Snapchat stickers featuring messaging about completing the 2020 Census
As a result, big tech companies     developed and implemented policies     that prohibited the sharing of false     information about civic events such as     the 2020 census on their platforms.
Side by side of two smartphones. On the left shows a Facebook feature about users being counted in the 2020 Census, and the right shows an Instagram banner directing users to 2020Census.gov

Additionally, Google developed a Google Ads Playbook for civil society groups which helped them coordinate outreach and communication efforts. Since then, the U.S. Census Bureau has established the government’s first-ever Trust & Safety Team to help protect the population's count.

Census Accelerate has partnered with Code for America, a technology non profit, and their Brigade Network to coordinate on supporting their local communities on the 2020 Census. The Brigade Network is a large network of community organizations, developers and designers within the Code for America network that seeks to put technology forward in service of local communities, a Brigade Network. These convenings included a:

✓ Brigades for the Count webinar for local census committees Complete Count Committees to connect with local Code for America Brigades, so that local volunteer technologists could team up with local advocates to support 2020 Census efforts.

✓ A second convening with Code for America, New America, and U.S. Census Bureau staff about potential brigade activations, including supporting Complete Count Committees with digital tools and flagging content that may communicate inaccurate or false information about the 2020 Census at a local level.

Woman sitting at a table smiling, and holding up three written-on sticky notes in front of her

Toolkits: Furthering Our Reach

Case Study

CCM Create-a-thon

Christian Contemporary Music Artists

Who: Ignite Outreach

What: Nashville Create-a-thon

Where: Nashville, TN

When: June 4, 2019

How: Aimed at bringing together diverse talent together to creatively solve challenges in reaching communities in responding to the 2020 Census. Attendees will come together to generate ideas and create engaging content for radio, social media and Get Out the Count. campaigns. The audience for this content will be faith based rural hard to count populations.

Powered by the Community

In February 2018, The Census Accelerate team developed Census Solutions Workshops and Create-a-thon toolkits, offering a step- by- step guide for national and community partners to host their own events. The toolkit was distributed through the U.S. Census Bureau partner websites National Partnerships Program (NPP) and Community Partnerships and Engagement (CPEP and downloaded over 1000+ times. Both organizations adopted the workshop model and deployed the Create a thon event and Census solutions workshop in every Census region- Making these the Accelerate human -centered design thinking program models U.S. Census Bureau engaged and activated partners for the 2020 Census.

By the end of 2019, Census community partners, Complete Count Committees, and communities started adopting the Census Solutions Workshop model and Create-a-thons all over the nation. Census Accelerate developed a guide for facilitators in and outside the Census Bureau to run these design thinking workshops in their various regions. To date, hundreds of Create a thon and Census solutions workshops have been instituted, resulting in thousands of new ideas and partnerships to support a complete and accurate count for the 2020 Census.

Community-Led Outreach

In 2017 Census Accelerate partnered with the Office of Evaluation Sciences at General Services Administration to develop an Audience Outreach Toolkit to go hand-in-hand with the Census Solutions Workshop resources and materials. The goal was to help partners create a tailored outreach strategy to reach their communities more effectively.

The Audience Outreach Toolkit Applies evidence-based practices that help partners identify barriers to participation, gather insights about what works and what doesn’t, and come up with recommendations and questions to reflect on when developing and tailoring communication strategies with a qualitative frame of mind.

Screenshot of the Audience outreach toolkit. On the left is a photo of a smiling woman, and below is the text Zoe, Age 19. On the right features information about who she is, and possible motiviations and stats as part of a user persona.

Going Virtual: Adapting to a Changing Environment

The Census Accelerate team piloted the Create-a-thon model over the course of 2018 - 2020, with in-person events that ranged in length from two to five hours. Participants dove into targeted briefs from local advocacy organizations, connected with a diverse group of civically committed people, and collaboratively generated digital media and compelling messages that spread awareness around the 2020 Census.

In the beginning of 2020, the world was faced with a complex public health environment, changing the way people conducted their everyday lives. This forced Census Accelerate to act rapidly and ensure that relevant content was still being created, especially during a time where the entire world went virtual. The virtual Create-a-thon model was born. We quickly iterated on our original toolkit model and launched the Virtual Create-a-thon toolkit so our team and partners could continue to develop promotional assets virtually.

Screenshot of the Virtual Create-a-thon toolkit document. The first page is visible, and has the title and an image of a zoom meeting with about 25 participants.

What's Next

As the complete and accurate count of the nation becomes more and more imperative in the coming months, cross sector collaborations and the power of civically engaged coalitions will be more critical than ever before. Census Accelerate sought out to test a new design-thinking model, to activate communities in a non-traditional way, to bring passionate folks from all walks of life together that care deeply about increasing awareness for the 2020 Census- and to work alongside the government in these outreach efforts.

The Census Accelerate Team has demonstrated how consistent, collaborative efforts can impact a feat as great as the U.S. Census. As the self-response period comes to a close, we are seeing the fruits of our labor being utilized across the nation as our shareables and video creative are helping to promote the 2020 Census to communities everywhere, our design-thinking models are impacting partners within and outside of the Census Bureau, and our big tech partnerships continue to combat misinformation around the Census online.

The replicable models we created can continue to benefit other programs, initiatives and surveys of the like. They have allowed for communities to take more ownership of the 2020 Census in what has traditionally been a government down approach. By creating an adaptable model to plug in the creative potential of our nation, and integrating the diversity of talents and trusted voices of a community, more content is available online that is relatable, compelling and effective. The census has become personal and it has become a necessary agenda item for individual and community advocacy.

Visit creativesforthecount.org to see more community-generated census content