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What's Next on Census Engagement: Learning from the Minnesota Model

There are a slew of organizations at the national level organizing around the work of the U.S. Census Bureau. They work on the decennial census, American Community Survey, and other Census Bureau products—building community awareness, stakeholder engagement, and advocacy around data quality and accessibility that meet community needs. 

This work is also essential at the state level, but state efforts are comparatively rare. Until recently, the only significant evergreen statewide effort on the ACS and decennial Census was MACS (Minnesotans for the American Community Survey). The all-volunteer group, founded in 2014, works to inform and educate community members, leaders, and government offices on the importance and necessity of publicly available data, including the decennial Census and ACS. 

MACS employs a successful model that focused on “grass-tops’ and, more recently, “grass-roots” partnerships and building a state-wide coalition that is both diverse and representative—including Minnesota leaders, policy and decision makers, business and development planners, forecasters, housing and social service providers, educators, and engaged residents. MACS was one of many partners that helped the State of Minnesota keep all eight of its Congressional seats by a very narrow margin, a Minnesota count of just 26 people. This policy victory demonstrates the importance of collective efforts that organize years in advance of the decennial census, with well–designed education and engagement strategies and partnerships with other state, local, and national organizations.     

To dig deeper into the MACS model and to better understand how certain features from this model may be replicated in other states or regions, the University of California, Riverside through its Center for Social Innovation conducted a case study of MACS, to better document its origins and evolution over time. Through in-depth interviews and an analysis of secondary sources, this case study breaks down the key features of the MACS model, the key strategies that were employed, the origins and key accomplishments of MACS, and concludes with important recommendations and next steps.  

America's Essential Data at Risk: A Vision to Preserve at Risk and Enhance the American Community Survey

The U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) is the premier source for information about America’s changing population, households, and workforce—and a crucial component of the American democracy. It is the current fulfillment of James Madison’s vision that the 1790 Census should add questions beyond “bare enumeration” so that Congress might “adapt the public measures to the particular circumstances of the community.”

ACS data are pervasively used by federal, state, and local decisionmakers to power our economy and plan our communities. However, ongoing challenges in ACS design innovations, delayed investments to improve the survey, and recent postponements of data releases have compromised the utility and reliability of the data essential to social and economic planning for the country.

Visit the Census Project for more:

Requesting a Data Training

The Census Bureau has a team of Data Dissemination Specialists who can assist in bringing the world of data to you by providing trainings, workshops and presentations to you and your organization at no cost.

For the Inland Empire, Orange, and San Diego counties, please reach out to Armando Mendoza at to request a workshop.  

If you are not requesting a workshop in the counties stated above, please fill out their service request form to request:

  • Data Workshops and Presentations, in-person or via webinar.
  • A presentation on a data topic relevant to you or your constituents.
  • Hands-on training for accessing Census Bureau data.
  • A presenter for your conference or event.

U.S. Census Bureau's 2021 Data Summit Series

You are Invited to join the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2021 Data Summit Series. Designed for the novice data user, the series will present a high-level overview of several data products and demonstrate how they can be used to assist organizations and businesses identify data-driven solutions to challenges.