For an inside look at the growing roster of 2020 Census partners, we asked the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) in Arizona why the census is so important to the communities it serves.
Here’s our Q&A with MAG Regional Council Chair and Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell.
Organization Name: Maricopa Association of Governments
Location: Phoenix, Arizona
The Maricopa Association of Governments provides regional planning and policy decisions for the Arizona communities it represents in the areas of transportation, air quality, water quality, economic development and human services.
MAG was formed in 1967 when local elected officials recognized the need for long-range planning and policy development on a regional scale. Many issues, such as transportation and air quality, affect residents beyond the borders of their individual communities. MAG was founded in the spirit of unity and cooperation.
Census Bureau Partner Since: 1985
Tell us about the community the Maricopa Association of Governments serves.
MAG’s membership includes 27 incorporated cities and towns, three American Indian nations, Maricopa County and portions of Pinal County in Arizona. Our planning area incorporates more than 10,000 square miles, and we serve a region of more than 4 million people.
MAG is led by a regional council of elected officials from all of the cities and towns in the region; representatives from the boards of supervisors in Maricopa and Pinal counties; elected officials from the Gila River Indian Community, the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community and the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation; and representatives of the Arizona Department of Transportation.
Maricopa County is one of the fastest-growing counties in the country. MAG and its partners are focused on improving the quality of life for all community members.
"Results from the census influence critical funding that shapes our everyday lives and the communities we live in."
— Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell, chair of the MAG Regional Council
What motivated the agency to collaborate with us?
MAG knows how important it is to encourage residents within its region and throughout the state of Arizona to participate in the upcoming 2020 Census and to help everyone understand that responding to the census is easy, important and safe.
Results from the census influence critical funding that shapes our everyday lives and the communities we live in. Census responses are used only for statistical purposes and are not shared with law enforcement. We believe that it is imperative for all of the communities within our region to work together in promoting the importance of census participation.
MAG and its partners want to make sure that the people within the region and throughout Arizona receive their fair share of federal dollars so that every man, woman and child benefits from the public programs that are funded by these dollars.
How is the Maricopa Association of Governments preparing for the 2020 Census?
MAG has created the Regional Census Communication Group representing all of its member communities. The group has been meeting regularly since August 2018 to exchange ideas, information and resources pertaining to 2020 Census outreach strategies. Most of the group’s member agencies have established a Complete Count Committee (CCC) or other working groups that meet and strategize on how best to reach the unique populations in their communities.
The Regional Census Communication Group and its member agencies are funding a $2 million regional outreach campaign for the census, called iCount2020, with the goal of demonstrating that every person has an impact on the future of the region by participating in the 2020 Census.
Why is an accurate census important to your agency and your community?
The 2020 Census is important not only for the MAG region but for the entire state of Arizona. The region has 55 public programs that receive federal funding based on population. Each response in the upcoming census influences decisions about how public funds are spent for programs in education, health care, fire and emergency services, housing, parks, recreation and arts and culture for each community.
Obtaining an accurate census count will help make sure that residents within the MAG region have the appropriate programs, resources and services necessary to maintain a good quality of life.
Does the agency use Census Bureau data? If so, how?
Through an executive order by the Arizona governor, MAG develops population estimates and projections for the region. Census data are among the important data sets used for these socioeconomic projections.
Recently, at the request of other Arizona Metropolitan Planning Organizations and Council of Governments directors, MAG also created an online tool to share Census Bureau data for Title VI reports.
MAG also worked with the statewide public/private partnership Read On Arizona and its partners to create MapLIT, an interactive mapping tool that identifies key Census Bureau data for studying early school performance and childhood literacy.
"MAG and its partners want to make sure that the people within the region and throughout Arizona receive their fair share of federal dollars so that every man, woman and child benefits from the public programs that are funded by these dollars."
— Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell, chair of the MAG Regional Council
What advice or suggestions would you give to other communities that want to ensure they have a complete and accurate count in the 2020 Census?
Collaboration, communication and open dialogue are the keys when it comes to creating and launching a successful regional census outreach campaign and ensuring an accurate count.
By working with partners, and developing and implementing a regional census campaign, we are better ensuring that we reach all residents in the region with consistent information about the importance and benefits of participating in the 2020 Census. This unique cost-sharing approach enables all MAG members to equitably contribute to fund our regional outreach efforts.
Shira Cavanaugh is the National Partnership Program's communications manager at the Census Bureau.
Our email newsletter is sent out on the day we publish a story. Get an alert directly in your inbox to read, share and blog about our newest stories.
America Counts tells the stories behind the numbers in a new inviting way. We feature stories on various topics such as families, housing, employment, business, education, the economy, emergency management, health, population, income and poverty.
Contact our Public Information Office for media inquiries or interviews.