MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - With Alabama lagging behind the national average for responses to the Census, and with $13 billion in federal funding and a Congressional seat at risk, the state is pulling out all the stops to drive up participation.
As of Aug. 31, Alabama’s participation rate sat at 61.6 percent while the national average was at 64.7.
Wednesday, the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, or ADECA, and Alabama Counts! launched a March Madness style competition called the Alabama Census Bowl.
The competition is among 32 - or roughly half - of the state’s 67 counties. Those taking part are among the lowest in reporting their Census rates and are divided up with 16 in the East Bracket and 16 in the West Bracket.
The Census Bowl runs through Sept. 30, the last day households across the nation can take part in the 2020 Census. The East and West counties will face each other in four weekly match-ups with those showing the biggest increases in self-response rates moving on to the next round.
“We are close to the final buzzer on Census 2020, and the Alabama Census Bowl is an excellent way to drive our state’s self-response rate up — all while benefiting public schools,” said Kenneth Boswell, Alabama Counts! Chairman and ADECA director.
Winners will get monetary rewards based on the final standings with the Elite Eight runner-ups each getting $20,000, Final Four runner-ups earning $30,000 each, the second place taking $45,000.
And the Alabama Census Bowl champion taking $65,000 to benefit its public school system.
The counties in the competition include: Baldwin, Barbour, Bibb, Bullock, Butler, Cherokee, Choctaw, Conecuh, Coosa, Crenshaw, Clarke, Dallas, DeKalb, Greene, Hale, Henry, Lamar, Lowndes, Macon, Marengo, Monroe, Perry, Pike, Randolph, Russell, Sumter, Talladega, Tallapoosa, Walker, Washington, Wilcox, and Winston.
The response, which is required by law, helps determine a number of things including the allocation of federal money to the states as well as the number of representatives a state gets in Congress.