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By Brian Fogle, President & CEO

Can our state count on you?

We place a great deal of importance on counting, no matter how you define it. We would rather be counted on than counted out. We count our blessings, and hope our friends are there when it really counts.

Former football player Gale Sayers said, “There comes a time when you have to stand up and be counted.” Recently deceased NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, of “Hidden Figures” fame, said, “I counted everything. I counted the steps to the road, the steps up to church, the number of dishes and silverware I washed … anything that could be counted, I did.” And, according to legend, Albert Einstein scrawled onto a blackboard this adage: “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.”

The truth is, we do count, and we can be counted — and it’s incredibly important that our communities participate in the counting. Invitations to participate in the decennial U.S. Census are now in the mail ahead of “Census Day” on April 1.

It’s estimated that for every person undercounted, our state loses $1,300 in federal funding each year. In the past, undercounting cost us legislative representation and, as a result, a weaker voice in Washington, D.C.

This census is particularly sensitive as it is the first to be approached in an online format. Some of our 58 counties in central and southern Missouri, where rural broadband can be hard to come by, have historically experienced high rates of undercounting.

It is incumbent on all of us to not only be counted, but to make sure our neighbors are counted as well. It’s a big deal. Let’s get the word out far and wide. Can I count on you?

Brian Fogle is the president and CEO of the Community Foundation of the Ozarks.

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