Montana 2020 Census Newsletter

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Rural Montana person and dog

Counting Rural Montana

Montana spans more than 147,000 square miles and has an estimated population of 1.06 million people (according to 2018 Census estimates). About 44 percent or 470,000 live in rural areas of the state. The majority of Montana’s geographic area is defined by the Census Bureau as "rural" meaning most population centers have fewer than 2,500 people. 

People who live in rural areas are considered hard to count populations for several reasons.These households often do not have a typical mailing address and use post office boxes in nearby towns. The U.S. Census Bureau does not mail to P.O boxes. Instead, Census takers deliver paper questionnaires to each home in such areas, along with information about options to respond online or by phone as well as information on how to confirm and record the physical location of the home.

Rural areas are also considered hard-to-count for the 2020 Census because many do not have access to broadband and have a lower percentage of households with internet subscriptions. This lack of internet and broadband connectivity poses challenges for much of rural America. A map of hard-to-count places in Montana with low broadband coverage/internet subscription rates is shown HERE.

U.S. Census Bureau employees take extraordinary measures to reach homes that can be difficult to access in rural and remote areas, whether they are located at the top of a mountain or at the end of a mile-long gravel drive. In the 2020 Census, enumerators nationwide will go back to a household up to six times if no response has been received. 

So why does an accurate count of rural Montana matter? Census data is used to determine our fair share of federal funding for things like healthcare, schools and highways. For every person who is not counted, Montana stands to lose $20,000 over the next decade. Plus, Census data shapes our local voting districts and Montana is on the cusp of receiving a second member of Congress.


State Complete Count Committee (CCC)
The State CCC met with U.S Census Bureau Partnership Specialists, Tribal Complete Count Committees, the Native American Development Corporation, and Western Native Voice to discuss Census outreach in Native American communities in Montana.The meeting went well and there was a lot of positive discussion about upcoming “Get Out the Count” events, follow-up on Census pledge cards, mini-grants to help with Census events, and other outreach opportunities on reservations as well as urban Indian populations. 

Good Samaritan Ministries &Thrift Store
The Good Samaritan Ministries & Thrift Store in Helena has started a Facebook campaign called "2020 Tuesday" where they share a post about the Census and how it will affect their community. You can start using #2020tuesday along with #montanacensus2020 to help spread the word and obtain a complete count. 

Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT)
The CSKT have been diligently working with the U.S. Census Bureau's Partnership Specialists to get their Complete Count Committee up and running. They are now in the process of planning community events for Census day and working to do outreach to obtain a complete count. 

U.S. Census Bureau
The U.S. Census Bureau Partnership Specialists for Montana have been traveling across the state setting up local Complete Count Committees in preparation for the upcoming 2020 Census and assisting in outreach ideas to promote a complete count. To get in contact with a Partnership Specialist in your area look at the map HERE

Have Census success to share? Email for a chance to be published in the next newsletter.


Women's Leadership Policy Institute

Include Census Material At Your Events 

At the latest Montana Women's Policy Leadership Institute conference, they had 2020 Census cards at each table asking people questions about why they count. They also had speakers from the U.S. Census Bureau attend their event and give a presentation on the importance of the Census. For your upcoming meetings and events, include Census material to get people talking about why the Census matters to them and their community.  CENSUS.MT.GOV has many free materials you can use. To request free materials be mailed to you at no charge contact us HERE




February 27: Bi-weekly Census webinar
Please register at:

Mid- March:  All Montana public K-12 schools should begin looking for their Census and Schools packet from the State Complete Count Committee. This will include a Census activity book for K-6 and all schools will receive posters, fact sheets, rack cards, and a Statics in Schools brochure. Educators please keep your eyes open for these items and help Montana's children obtain a complete count for their future

March 12 - 31:  Montana households will begin receiving official Census Bureau materials with detailed information on how to respond to the 2020 Census online, by phone, or by mail. Watch for a postcard to be mailed to you or left in a packet along with the Census form on your front door.

March 30 - April 1: The Census Bureau will count people who are experiencing homelessness over these three days.

April 1: Census Day!

Throughout April:  Census takers will begin visiting college students who live on campus, people living in senior centers, and others who live among large groups of people.

May - July: Census takers will begin visiting homes that haven't responded to the 2020 Census to help make sure everyone is counted.


Imitation Census Survey Reported In Cascade County 
Press Release: Montana Department of Commerce

Census Bureau, state preparing for upcoming census count in Montana 

2020 U.S. Census about to start in Ravalli County 
Bitterroot Star 

New Twitter tool links users to accurate census information 
Associated Press

Sign Up to Become a "Be Counted" Site

With the Census count beginning in mid-March, there are ways you can assist in obtaining a complete count for Montana. Since the 2020 Census will be available online and by phone for the first time, one of the best ways to help is by signing up to become a “Be Counted” site.

To become a “Be Counted” location you will need to have:

  • A building that the public and people with disabilities can access such as a business, organization headquarters, or community center where computers, tablets, or phones will be available for community members to use to fill out their form.
  • Password protected WiFi.
  • Your location will need to be available from mid-March until early May. Hours of operation will be determined by the site.
  • The location does not need to be staffed, but if you choose to staff your site remember that only Census Bureau employees can assist people with filling out their form because they have taken a lifetime oath of confidentiality which is protected by law.

Click HERE to sign up to become a 2020 Be Counted location. We have an interactive map of "Be Counted" sites around the state, get your location added to the map and have promotional material mailed to you by signing up. 

Steps You Can Take to Ensure a Complete Count for Montana

  • Get involved with your community’s Complete Count Committee (CCC). CCC's are volunteer committees established within communities to increase awareness and motivate the public to respond to the 2020 Census. A map of CCC's in Montana can be found HERE
  • Ask public facilities (libraries, senior centers, county health offices, etc.) to become a "Be Counted" location. To view the current “Be Counted” sites click HERE
  • Place 2020 Census information in areas where people congregate (supermarkets, restaurants, health clubs, schools, etc.) To request free materials be mailed to you contact us HERE
  • Talk about the Census and become a trusted voice on the importance of a complete count. As a community member that people trust, your support of the 2020 Census can help other people see the benefit of filling out their 2020 Census form. 


Sharing Montana 2020 Census material on your social media page is a great way to spread the word about the importance of the Census to our state. The State CCC has made social media graphics that you can share directly from our Facebook page or download from our website and distribute. A few examples are shown below. 




To be routed to your local U.S. Census Bureau office Call                        855-562-2020 select option 3, and enter your zip code. 

Reach Out to a Montana Census 2020 Partnership Specialist.

Chance Gillette
Montana Partnership Specialist
U.S. Census Bureau
Phone: 406-850-0199

Jihan Khalaf
Montana Partnership Specialist
U.S. Census Bureau 
Phone: 406-439-3383

Colleen M. McCarthy
Montana Partnership Specialist U.S. Census Bureau
Phone: (406) 302-2226

Jeri Bucy
Montana Partnership Specialist
U.S. Census Bureau
Phone: (406) 302-2227

Josh Manning
Media Specialist
Dallas Regional Census Office, US Census Bureau
(406) 422-6475



Do you have a Census event coming up? Have you been working on community outreach? Or have success you'd like to share? Contact us HERE for a chance to be published in the next newsletter and have your next event displayed on the 2020 Census Events Calendar at CENSUS.MT.GOV.