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An Empirical Assessment of Strategies to Activate Populations That Have Been Historically Undercounted

April 2023

By Joanna Lee and Jennifer Ito

Every ten years, every person in the United States is to be counted. Ensuring a complete and accurate count requires concerted effort and community investment to locate, equip, and persuade people who are less likely to participate in the census.

This report looks at the grassroots, community-driven outreach strategies implemented by The Center at Sierra Health Foundation’s funded community partners to increase participation in the census among communities in Southern San Joaquin Valley that have been historically undercounted. The study focuses on two outreach strategies: door-to-door canvassing and phone-banking. It finds that there were measurable improvements in self-response rates among census tracts that were canvassed and phone banked. It is likely that inequities in self-response rates would have been far greater without the highly intensive investments in community outreach. The study was commissioned by The Center at Sierra Health Foundation.

Read our other publications by research area

    Immigrant Integration & Racial Justice

    Our work on immigrant integration and racial justice brings together three emphases: scholarship that draws on academic theory and rigorous research, data that provides information structured to highlight the process of immigrant integration over time, and engagement that seeks to create new dialogues with government, community organizers, business and civic leaders, immigrants and the voting public to advance immigrant integration and racial equity.

    Economic Inclusion & Climate Equity

    In the area of economic inclusion, we at ERI advance academic theory and practical applications linking economic growth, environmental quality, and civic health with bridging of racial and other gaps; produce accessible and actionable data and analysis through the data tools; and establish research partnerships to deepen and advance the dialogue, planning, and actions around racial equity, environmental justice, and the built environment.

    Social Movements & Governing Power

    ERI’s work in the area of governing power includes: conducting cross-disciplinary studies of today’s social movements, supporting learning and strategizing efforts to advance dialogues among organizers, funders, intermediaries, evaluators, and academics, and developing research-based social change frameworks and tools to inform—and be informed by—real-world, real-time efforts towards a vision of deep change.

    Publications Directory

    In 2020, the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) and the USC Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration (CSII) merged to form the USC Equity Research Institute (ERI).

    The full list of publications published under our previous and current names can be found in our publications directory.

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