An All-Out Battle: Leaving Nothing on the Field For the Census

With just one week left until the end of the 2020 Census, New York City launches two contests “Battle of the Boroughs” and “Counting All Queens” to mobilize all New Yorkers to respond

NEW YORK, NY - In order to stave off the potential loss of billions in federal aid for critical programs as well as the loss of up to two congressional seats in the midst of the worst economic crisis in a century, NYC Census 2020, in partnership with City and elected officials, nonprofit leaders, and community advocates launched two new contests to mobilize New Yorkers to respond to the 2020 Census, which is currently scheduled to end in just one week on September 30.

“Battle of the Boroughs,” in partnership with United Way of New York City and the New York City Hospitality Alliance

The “Battle of the Boroughs” challenges residents of each of the five boroughs to respond to the census with the borough registering the largest increase in terms of its self-response rate being the winner.

50 lucky winners who complete the census online during the contest period will win a $200 gift certificate to a restaurant of their choice. A total of $10,000 in gift certificates are being generously donated by the United Way of New York City, and 25 city restaurants are participating through the City’s partnership with the NYC Hospitality Alliance. The contest provides an attractive incentive for New Yorkers to complete the census, and is a demonstration of support for the city’s restaurant industry.

The contest begins today, Wednesday, September 23, and ends on Wednesday, September 30, currently the last day New Yorkers can complete the census. To qualify for this contest, an individual must first complete the census for their household, then upload a screenshot of their census completion via the submission form. The census must be completed during the contest period, and cannot be a previous submission. The individual will then select one of the participating restaurants to receive a gift certificate to. In addition, all entrants must also provide a short write-up about what winning would mean to them. To be selected, winners must be residents of the winning borough, and then they will be selected based on the quality of their answers.

“The next seven days is critical to building a more equitable future for New York City,” said J. Phillip Thompson, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives. “Despite the challenges of working during a global pandemic and despite constant interference from the Trump administration, by working hand-in-hand with community partners, new initiatives like the Battle of the Boroughs will help ensure that all New Yorkers are counted.”

“We are using every tool in our toolbox to achieve a complete and accurate count in the 2020 Census. The Battle of the Boroughs contest will tap into the neighborhood pride that is part of the cultural fabric of New York City, said Director Julie Menin of NYC Census 2020 and Executive Assistant Corporation Counsel, NYC Law Department. “Thanks to our partnership with the United Way of New York City and NYC Hospitality Alliance, we will boost our numbers and provide a helpful incentive, particularly during these difficult times, to New Yorkers for completing the census.”

“At the United Way of New York City, we are dedicated to increasing the response rate and reaching the successful completion of the New York City Census,” said Sheena Wright, President & CEO United Way of New York City. “We are proud and pleased to continue our partnership with the City of New York in innovative ways to incentivize New Yorkers to get counted, while at the same time supporting our local small businesses!”

New York City has been hit with the worst economic crisis in 100 years, including devastating impacts to the hospitality industry and record unemployment,” said Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance. “The NYC Hospitality Alliance is proud to partner with the NYC Census 2020 team to count all New Yorkers, so that our neighborhoods and vital small businesses are assured urgently needed resources to survive this crisis, can recover stronger in the future and have appropriate representation in Washington D.C.”

“We are entering the final push to get every New Yorkers counted for the once-in-a-decade count. The stakes are high: billions in federal funding, congressional representation, and respect. This is where we all need to employ every physical and virtual tool to ensure we reach every block, every bodega, every school, every child. Despite the roadblocks the COVID-19 pandemic created early in the year, community organizations and our neighbors have done an incredible job. But the work is not over until the last second of the deadline. We are ready,” said Councilmember Carlos Menchaca, co-chair of the NYC Council Task Force.

"Time is running out and it is more important than ever to ensure that every New Yorker is counted in the census to secure the future of our communities," said Council Member Adrienne Adams. "This is the best time to think outside of the box for census outreach to ensure a complete count as there is so much at stake. I appreciate this final census push to get us to a complete count.”

Council Member Robert E. Cornegy, Jr. said, “Now is precisely the time to mobilize our competitive spirit and creatively engage our family, friends, and neighbors in this final push to count all our shared communities in the 2020 Census. These three competitions add yet one more layer of importance to getting to a complete count: Brooklyn and NYC pride. I look forward to Brooklyn taking the titles and to a NYC win – but that will only be possible if we all work towards more participation in our worthy Census 2020 goal.”

“It is imperative for us to get New Yorkers counted in the US 2020 Census. We are at risk of losing crucial representation in Washington DC and losing billions of dollars in federal funding for essential services during one of the worst financial crises in our city’s history. New Yorkers must get counted this year and I am proud to join with my colleagues, the administration, community leaders, clergy, and advocates to ensure New Yorkers across all five boroughs are counted this year,” said Council Member Vanessa Gibson.

"Representation in Congress and billions of dollars for much needed vital services are at stake, it is imperative that New Yorkers answer the census ASAP," said Council Member Ben Kallos. "This contest is an excellent way to get the word out and to encourage residents to get it done and fill out the census. We are looking forward to the results of the 'Battle of the Boroughs' contest as we work to get our City's self-response rate increased using every way we can to incentivize participation."

"With two congressional seats and billions of federal funding on the line, we need to be creative about energizing New Yorkers to fill out the 2020 Census. That's why my office has hosted several Battle of the Borough events to urge New Yorkers to participate in the Census, including phone-banking competitions, a trivia night, and a car parade through our historically undercounted communities. I appreciate the City's campaign to mobilize New Yorkers in a fun way as we near the deadline, and encourage residents of the Bronx to participate!" said State Senator Alessandra Biaggi.

"This is crunch time for our communities to get counted. I'm so glad the City is stepping up to get us across the September 30 finish line as strong as possible. This 2020 Census is a do or die moment for us in terms of making sure we get the federal resources we deserve as we recover from COVID-19 in the coming decade said State Senator Robert Jackson. I urge all New Yorkers who are able to volunteer during this final push to go to and sign up. I'll be out on the streets as often as possible myself. Let's Get Out the Census!"

"With only one week to go, Brooklynites and all New Yorkers have a chance to shape our future for the next decade. Critical resources are at stake, and we can't stop now. If our communities are to count, we all must be counted," said State Senator Zellnor Myrie.

State Senator James Sanders Jr. said, “I fully support the city's efforts to encourage more people to fill out the census. Ensuring a more accurate count is so important because census numbers will decide how precious federal funds will be allocated annually for programs and services including education, housing, community development, healthcare, job training and services for the elderly. The more people who participate in the 2020 Census, the better our communities will be and the more equitable federal dollars will be distributed.”

“The stakes couldn’t be higher, but everybody wins when we help our neighbors complete the census. Every response is worth thousands of dollars of federal funds to support our communities. New York’s recovery begins with making sure that everyone is counted,” said Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus.

"With just a week to go before census counting operations come to a close, we must make every effort to count all New Yorkers. Whether we are going to compete by borough or by city, every household counts and helps make a difference,” said Assistant Speaker Felix W. Ortiz. “New York City has already surpassed its  2010 census response rates. Let's get to 100% participation and really show that New York Counts!"

Assemblymember Jeffrey Dinowitz said, "There are only a few more days to get every New Yorker counted and ensure that we get the money, power, and respect we deserve. Thank you to Mayor de Blasio and everyone working at City Hall to engage our city in this final push for a complete census count."
If selected, winners will be notified by email or phone by no later than Friday, October 16. All prizes will be delivered within the month of October 2020. Full contest rules can be found

The Battle of the Boroughs is the final contest in the “Census Subway Series,” which over the last five weeks has challenged two neighborhoods in different boroughs each week to determine which neighborhood can register the highest increase in terms of self-response.
The winner of this past week’s challenge, which matched Throgs Neck in The Bronx with Corona in Queens, is Throgs Neck, which registered a notable full percentage point increase in self-response.

Throgs Neck began the competition with a 54.1% self-response rate and rose to 55.1% (an increase of approximately 130 households), and Corona started at 55.3% and reached 55.9%, an increase of 0.6 percentage points (an increase of approximately 105 households).

“Counting All Queens,” 
mobilizing LGBTQ+ participation in the census

NYC Census 2020 also launched “Counting All Queens,” an important contest to mobilize response from New York City’s LGBTQ+ communities that was announced yesterday by the NYC Census 2020 team at their “Queens in Queens” event. Starting today, Wednesday, September 23 to Wednesday, September 30, five New York City drag queens, one representing each borough, will use creative calls to action on social media to get out the count in their respective boroughs. The winner will be from the borough with the highest self-response increase over the week and will be “crowned” the “Census Queen” on Thursday, October 1. Photos from the announcement can be found here for journalist use.

The participating drag queens are Audrey Phoenix representing Queens, Godiva Romance representing The Bronx, Britney Virazzano representing Staten Island, Ruby Roo representing Brooklyn, and Pixie Aventura for Manhattan.

“Being of Latin descent I understand the feeling of being underrepresented. I also understand the fear an undocumented immigrant can have when giving information to the government,” said Pixie Aventura, Drag Queen, LatinX Entertainer, and Activist who is representing Manhattan. “Remember, the Census is extremely important to serve our communities. The information given will not be used against us or to track people.

“We are strong in the boogie down,” said Godiva Romance AKA Boogie Down Barbie, representing The Bronx. “let's level up and get our count up!"

“As a small business owner and a performer, federal help during these trying times is so important, said Britney Virazzano who represents Staten Island in the competition. “So fill out the census so that you ensure your LGBTQIA voice is heard!

“When this queen brings all the queens to Queens to count all the queens (and not just in Queens) you know we’re stopping nothing short of ‘legendary,’ as we are calling on all LGBTQ+ New Yorkers, including those of us who are immigrants, trans, non-binary, or those who cannot vote, to reclaim the money, power, and respect that are rightfully guaranteed to us by the Constitution by simply participating in the census,” said Amit Singh Bagga, Deputy Director, NYC Census 2020.

"As we fight on for justice and equity, we cannot forget that the 2020 Census is central to this movement. Every New Yorker—queer and trans, documented and undocumented, English speaking or not—counts,” said Bitta Mostofi, Commissioner of the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs. “As the Trump administration continues to attempt to find every way possible to undermine our democracy and under-resource our city, we have 8 days left to take some of that power back. New Yorkers: if you do not identify as male or female, you can skip the gender question. Exercise your constitutional right to get counted in the census and ensure our communities get the money, representation, and investments we deserve."

"For the first time, the 2020 Census will add specific checkboxes for same-sex couples to identify themselves in the question about how each person in the household is related to the person who filled out the questionnaire," said Meeta Anand, Sr. Fellow, New York Immigration Coalition. "This is a crucial first step to better understanding and appreciating the diversity within our communities, while continuing to maintain the confidentiality and privacy of all Census participants. While we recognize the fullness and richness of our communities is not yet fully captured by the Census questionnaire, by filling out the Census today, we take steps towards advocating for a more inclusive tomorrow. Moreover, an accurate census count of LGBTQIA+ households will help New York access it's fair share of billions in federal dollars and political representation at a moment when the state needs it the most to support hospitals, libraries, roads and so much more."

“It is unacceptable that the 2020 Census is not counting people who don’t identify as a male or female, specifically gender non-conforming and non-binary people,” said Kelsey Louie, CEO of GMHC. “Despite this shortcoming, we urge all New Yorkers to participate in the 2020 Census to ensure federal resources, congressional representation, and rights needed for all our communities. We thank the NYC Census office for its work and urge everyone to #GetCountedNYC.”

“Our program participants represent our communities and everyone is included in our approach,” said Carine Jocelyn, Chief Executive Officer, Diaspora Community Services. “We want our entire family community included in the census and that includes all who are reflected across the LGBTQIA spectrum. We all count!”

“It is more important than ever to ensure every single person in New York City participates in the census to help secure the future of our communities,” said Council Member Adrienne Adams. “We cannot allow our neighborhoods to be cheated out of their fair share of federal funding and with less than two weeks left must continue collective efforts for a complete count.”

"Listen to the Queens: fill out your Census today," said NYC Council Finance Chair Daniel Dromm. "The City stands to lose a lot from a Census undercount—including billions of federal funding and Congressional representation.  If you respond now, you might win a $200 gift certificate to your favorite NYC restaurant. More importantly, you will be helping the city provide quality services to NYC residents at a time when many people need them the most. I applaud Mayor de Blasio, Director Menin and Deputy Director Bagga for launching these innovative campaigns to incentivize New Yorkers to respond to the Census."

“The closer we get to an accurate count, the better it is for New York City,” said Council Member Barry S. Grodenchik.  “Representing one of the most diverse council districts in the city, I know how important outreach efforts are and have hosted many community events over the course of the year.  I am pleased to join Borough President Sharon Lee in helping Queens to come closer to a complete count.”

"The Census plays a crucial role in deciding how much funding our state receives for legal aid, healthcare, food assistance, and other lifelines for LGBTQ New Yorkers,” said State Senator Leroy Comrie. “When we are undercounted, we lose out on vital funding and representation at every level of government. Completing your Census questionnaire is the easiest thing you can do to ensure New York gets its fair share over the next ten years."

"Today is September 23rd -- meaning we have exactly one week left to increase self-response for New Yorkers," said State Senator Brian Kavanagh. "At our current response levels, we risk losing two Congressional seats, as well as significant funding for services New Yorkers rely on every day. While the fight to get New Yorkers counted has been difficult, I have been continually inspired by the unrelenting efforts of so many organizations, community members, and my fellow local elected officials to raise awareness about the census.  Your efforts matter and have not gone unnoticed.  Our participation in the census ensures that our voices are heard and our concerns are being addressed. I encourage all New Yorkers to fill out the census to make sure that New York receives our fair share."

"Let's go New York! We need everybody to get counted in the 2020 Census,” said Assistant Speaker Felix W. Ortiz. “With only a few days left to respond, we can't let anyone be left out. We have to make sure that everybody is counted in every household, especially in same sex homes. Please take 10 minutes to answer 10 questions. The next 10 years depend on it!"

“Our state cannot afford to have anyone go uncounted, it is especially important that LGBTQIA New Yorkers participate as this is the first time that same-sex households will be recognized on the census! I thank all of the Queens leading these outreach efforts across the 5 boroughs,” said Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi.

"We need all kings, queens, and everyone in between to fill out their 2020 census forms and help shape New York City's future before it's too late,” said Assemblymember Al Taylor.  Without a fair and accurate count New Yorkers will lose out on billions in funding for our schools, housing, healthcare, and so much more.  It also impacts the number of representatives we have in congress.  Filling out the census is safe, easy, and critical, especially for underrepresented groups including BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities.  Too much is on the line and too many neighborhoods remain undercounted.  Thank you to all of the queens who are using their platforms and creativity to raise awareness for this important cause.  Let's get NYC counted!"

"We are just a few days away from concluding the Census outreach that will determine the funding we get for our communities. Incentivizing community members to engage more and fill out the Census puts us a step closer to potentially reaching our goal. Under this pandemic we cannot afford to lose two congressional seats along with vital services that provide our communities with resources needed to prosper," said AssemblymemberMaritza Davila.

As of September 23rd, New York City’s self-response rate to the 2020 Census is 60.2%, compared to the national average of 66.2%. While NYC leads many other major cities across the country and continues to close the gap with the national average, all New Yorkers are being mobilized to urgently fill out the census and help get out the count in the remaining week before the September 30th deadline. To date, NYC Census 2020 has made over 4 million phone calls, 7 million text messages, and has run 34 multimedia campaigns in 26 languages. In these final days, we are doubling down on our efforts with 100 events across the five boroughs this week alone, in addition to the new contests and ongoing outreach efforts.

About NYC Census 2020
NYC Census 2020 is a first-of-its-kind organizing initiative established by Mayor de Blasio in January 2019 to ensure a complete and accurate count of all New Yorkers in the 2020 Census. The $40 million program is built on four pillars: (1) a $19 million community-based awards program, The New York City Complete Count Fund, empowering 157 community-based organizations to engage historically undercounted communities around the 2020 Census; (2) an in-house “Get Out the Count” field campaign supported by the smart use of cutting-edge data and organizing technology, and a volunteer organizing program to promote a complete count in each of the city’s 245 neighborhoods; (3) an innovative, multilingual, tailored messaging and marketing campaign, including a $3 million commitment to investing in community and ethnic media to reach every New York City community; as well as (4) an in-depth Agency and Partnerships engagement plan that seeks to leverage the power of the City’s 350,000-strong workforce and the city's major institutions, including libraries, hospitals, faith-based communities, cultural institutions, higher educational institutions, and more, to communicate with New Yorkers about the critical importance of census participation. Through close partnerships with trusted leaders and organizations across the five boroughs, this unprecedented campaign represents the largest municipal investment in census organizing nationwide and will build an enduring structure that empowers New Yorkers to remain civically engaged.