DETROIT, Mich—Hayg Oshagan, Associate Professor at Wayne State University in Detroit and Director of New Michigan Media, has been awarded a $1.2 million grant from the Michigan Nonprofit Association to boost the state’s ethnic and minority resident participation in the 2020 U.S. Census.
Oshagan welcomed the funding, which is supporting an unprecedented statewide outreach and organizing effort through New Michigan Media’s network of more than 100 ethnic and minority media affiliates.
Oshagan is also a member of Michigan’s 2020 U.S. Census Complete Count Committee, appointed to serve by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, along with Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, elected representatives from the state’s House of Representatives and Senate and officials from nonprofit and community organizations.
With nearly $30 billion in federal funding and Michigan’s continued 14-member Congressional representation at stake, Oshagan said that the importance of New Michigan Media’s targeted role in the 2020 Census outreach effort cannot be overstated.
“In 2010, Michigan lost one Congressional seat, and in Detroit, only 64 percent of the residents self-reported in the 2010 Census. This was the lowest rate of any major American city,” Oshagan noted. “Across the US, ethnic and racial minorities are almost always under-counted in the Census. There’s a real need for Michigan’s minority media to be leveraged to address low participation rates by helping their readers understand the Census and overcome their fear and mistrust of participating.
“We need Michigan’s federal funding and Congressional representation to at least remain stable based on the state’s true resident numbers,” Oshagan added.
The Michigan Non-Profit Association entrusted New Michigan Media with the $1.2 million grant because of the unique community access and trust enjoyed by New Michigan Media’s leading ethnic and minority media outlets – Arab-American News, Jewish News, Michigan Chronicle, Latino Press and Korean Weekly – and its statewide ethnic and minority press network.
In the run up to the March 2020 national Census mailing to all U.S. households, New Michigan Media has been using its grant to mobilize Michigan’s ethnic media outlets at conferences and meetings throughout the state, kicking off its campaign in Detroit at Wayne State University, where Oshagan is a professor in the College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts. The event was attended by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Wayne County Executive Warren Evans and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, as well as numerous ethnic media, community, non-profit and academic leaders. Oshagan held similar convenings of minority media in the western part of the state, as well as in Northern Michigan with Native American tribal media.
“In ethnic and minority communities, the editors of their ethnic media outlets are highly trusted and respected sources, who understand their communities deeply,” Oshagan said. “That’s why New Michigan Media’s ethnic and minority media network is absolutely necessary in this 2020 Census outreach effort to help these under-counted communities understand the importance of the Census and the privacy protections in place so that they won’t be afraid to participate. There is a lot at stake for Michigan.”