Skip to main content

Our Community’s Role in Promoting Civic Engagement: Census 2020, Redistricting and Beyond

The infrastructure created within Michigan’s charitable sector to promote census completion will now be used to support civic engagement.

A group of voters at the polls

While the 2020 Census is complete, the partnerships and infrastructure created within Michigan’s charitable sector to promote census completion will now be used to support civic engagement among Michiganders.

Last week the Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA) hosted a virtual debrief on the Nonprofits Complete Count Campaign, highlighting and celebrating the deep collaboration of nonprofits, philanthropy, government and other partners to encourage participation in the census.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Michigan ranked eighth nationally in census completion with a reporting rate of 71.3%, above the national average of 67%.

CMF’s Government Relations and Public Policy team continues to advocate for Congress to extend the Census 2020 statutory reporting deadlines for apportionment and redistricting, noting it is imperative the U.S. Census Bureau has enough time to ensure quality, precision and accuracy in the census count process. 

Beyond census, CMF will continue to work deeply in civic engagement ─ one of our government relations and public policy domain areas ─ as an active and engaged citizenry is essential for the health and advancement of our democracy. CMF supports policies, programs and partnerships that support the active engagement and participation of Michiganders in civil society.

In alignment with this broader area of focus CMF’s Census Funders Learning Community is transitioning in name and broadening in focus to become the Civic Engagement Learning Community. Recognizing the positive impact of the census work our sector recently advanced, members of the learning community expressed a desire to continue their learning journey into the next phase of census-related processes: redistricting.

The group categorizes redistricting as a natural next step along a civic engagement continuum and another piece of a broader goal to strengthen civic infrastructure to create a more equitable society.

Like the census, redistricting will have longstanding implications for the infrastructure, resource allocation, policies and programs that serve our communities and shape our society.

To ensure fair and equitable redistricting, Michigan voters approved the creation of the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (ICRC) during the 2018 general election. The commission—comprised of 13 individuals with differing political affiliations selected via an application process—first met in September. A summary of the process and ICRC meetings to date can be found on the Secretary of State’s website.

Earlier this month, Suann Hammersmith, retired president and CEO of the Lenawee Community Foundation, was selected as executive director of the ICRC. In her role—expected to last roughly 18 months—Hammersmith will facilitate community meetings and trainings for commission members on redrawing districts.

“My job will be to serve the commission, to assist them in their work,” Hammersmith told The Daily Telegram. “My job is solely to support them, to provide information, to provide options, to provide suggestions of ways they may proceed in order to make this a fair and data-driven and nonpartisan process.”

Along with its new focus on redistricting, the Civic Engagement Learning Community will also concentrate efforts on amplifying community voice, improving civic infrastructure and strengthening democratic institutions.

The CMF learning community will serve as a convening body for CMF members interested and involved in efforts around redistricting, voter education and other forms of civic participation. If you’re interested in joining the learning community, please contact Kyra Hudson, CMF’s public policy fellow.

Want more?

CMF seeks to fortify the field through public policy action and champion the policy leadership of CMF members. Learn how you can get engaged.

Read news from the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission.