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Press Release

NYC Census 2020, Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs, and CUNY Release New We Speak NYC Educational Videos on the Census

New PSAs aim to drive census awareness and participation amongst New York City’s diverse immigrant communities

The census is directly tied to health care funding for the city 

NEW YORK - NYC Census 2020 and the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA), in partnership with the City University of New York (CUNY), launched two new short We Speak NYC (WSNYC) educational videos. Created by the Emmy-award winning English language learning program We Speak NYC, the videos, CensusGirl and Count Us In, outline the significance of the census and explain what is at risk if immigrant New Yorkers don’t participate. English language learners can follow along with the scripts, or download activities to reinforce lessons learned in each short video. After watching, learners can also access the link, Welcome to the 2020 Census, to complete the census online. The videos were commissioned by NYC Census 2020.

“Immigrant communities in New York City have been gravely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Census is tied to the funding that these neighborhoods need for schools and health care in the decade to come,” said Julie Menin, Director of NYC Census 2020. “This partnership helps ensure that we are speaking directly to immigrant communities and directly combatting attempts to suppress their participation. There is no immigration or citizenship question on the census, and your responses are completely confidential. Every New Yorker should participate.” 

“In a city where more than 200 languages are spoken by residents and approximately half of our 3.1 million immigrants are limited English proficient, We Speak NYC resources for English language learners and educators serve an important role in expanding access to ESOL education, including digital accessibility, and vital City services while promoting civic engagement,” said Bitta Mostofi, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. “We thank CUNY and NYC Census 2020 for their partnership in developing these compelling videos that enhance the English language learning experience through positive storytelling, underscore why we need all New Yorkers to get counted, and reassure our communities that participating in the census is safe for all, regardless of immigration status.”

“As with all of our multimedia education resources—which include 17 episodes, printed materials, community conversation classes, and an interactive website—these new videos support WSNYC’s goal to effectively engage English language learners as they practice their conversation skills and build community with other participants,” said Kareema Hussein, Director of WSNYC. “We are excited to share this new content, which has become especially important with the program’s move to full distance-learning at all levels of education due to COVID-19.

“At CUNY, we are proud of our longstanding embrace and empowerment of immigrants. They contribute immeasurably to the city, state and nation’s economic growth and cultural vitality. The We Speak NYC series, our CensusGirl and Count Us In videos will help ensure that immigrant communities are counted in the census so they may receive the services they deserve,” said José Luis Cruz, Executive Vice Chancellor and University Provost.

These videos will also be a part of WSNYC’s free weekly classes, now being offered online. New Yorkers can practice their English conversational skills, connect with new people, and learn more about the city services that are available to support those who have been impacted by COVID-19 through these classes. In addition to classroom instruction, these new PSAs on the census, will broadcast on NYC Life from April 17 to August 31, 2020. Short versions of the PSAs will air on Taxi TV starting this week. 
In the first installation of this new series, CensusGirl, Shumi, a college student, is in a library with people from all over the world, united by their love of learning. Suddenly, there's a WHOOSH... It's CensusGirl! She shows up just in time to tell the truth about the census, and why it is important to all immigrant New Yorkers. 
In Count Us In, a family has a conversation about the census. Everyone but Papá thinks filling it out is very important. In this video, Papá learns the purpose of the count. The video addresses misperceptions about the census and the resources available to help everyone complete the census. 
The census determines whether New York City receives its fair share of hundreds of billions distributed by the federal government every year for important programs and services. The census also leads to direct investments in New York City's health care system. For example, census data determines allocations for funding for CHIP and hospitals. What's more, it's how public health officials get the foundational data that public health experts use to plan for and manage situations like COVID-19.

The more New Yorkers who fill out the census, the more money the city receives for schools, hospitals, transportation, job training, and so much more. The census also determines each state's fair share of representation in Congress, as well as how local, state, and federal legislative district lines are drawn, meaning the power of New York City's voice in Washington, D.C., and Albany is also based on the census.

Important Facts about the 2020 Census:

  • The census is available online and by phone this year: and 1-844-330-2020. 
  • New Yorkers can complete the census form online in 12 languages in addition to English, and each of these languages have their own dedicated, unique phone number that speakers of these languages can call to receive direct assistance. In addition, the U.S. Census Bureau has published “explainer” guides in a total of 59 languages. For more information, please visit
  • New Yorkers can also fill out the 2020 Census in 15 different language lines:













Haitian Creole 



Telephone Display Device (TDD) 


  • There are no questions related to immigration or citizenship on the 2020 Census.
  • The census contains only 10 questions, and none ask about employment, income, or for one’s Social Security number.
  • The census is for everyone, regardless of immigration or citizenship status or housing situation. New Yorkers living with friends, family members, roommates, other families, or even in unlawful housing units, can and should participate in the 2020 Census.
  • All responses to the census and any personal information held by the Census Bureau are protected by Title XIII of the United States code, which makes the sharing of any personal information by a Census Bureau employee a serious crime, punishable by up to five years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.
  • By law, census information can only be used for statistical purposes, and cannot be used against an individual or family in any way. The Census Bureau cannot share any personal information with any government agencies, private individuals, or companies. This includes immigration enforcement, law enforcement, any other federal, state, or city agencies, and landlords. 

All WSNYC materials serve as a resource for intermediate English language learners, and a support for educators and professionals in the field of Adult Education. Currently, only 3% of Adult Education needs in traditional classrooms are being met. WSNYC is a supplemental resource that promotes the right to education through access to multimedia, English language learning materials. 

About NYC Census 2020

NYC Census 2020 is a first-of-its-kind organizing initiative established by Mayor de Blasio in January 2019 to ensure a complete and accurate count of all New Yorkers in the 2020 Census. The $40 million program is built on four pillars: (1) a $19 million community-based awards program, The New York City Complete Count Fund, empowering 157 community-based organizations to engage historically undercounted communities around the 2020 Census; (2) an in-house "Get Out the Count" field campaign supported by the smart use of cutting-edge data and organizing technology, and a volunteer organizing program to promote a complete count in each of the city's 245 neighborhoods; (3) an innovative, multilingual, tailored messaging and marketing campaign, including a $3 million commitment to investing in community and ethnic media to reach every New York City community; as well as (4) an in-depth Agency and Partnerships engagement plan that seeks to leverage the power of the City's 350,000-strong workforce and the city's major institutions, including libraries, hospitals, faith-based communities, cultural institutions, higher educational institutions, and more, to communicate with New Yorkers about the critical importance of census participation. Through close partnerships with trusted leaders and organizations across the five boroughs, this unprecedented campaign represents the largest municipal investment in census organizing nationwide and will build an enduring structure that empowers New Yorkers to remain civically engaged.

About Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs
The NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA) promotes the well-being of NYC’s immigrant communities by advocating for policies that increase justice, equity, and empowerment for the City’s immigrant communities. MOIA leads, supports, and manages programs that help to successfully include immigrant New Yorkers into the civic, economic, and cultural life of the City. For more information on all MOIA services and the City’s many resources for immigrant New Yorkers, go to; call the MOIA hotline at 212-788-7654 from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday or send an email to; and follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

About We Speak NYC
We Speak NYC (WSNYC), developed and overseen by the NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs in partnership with the City University of New York, is an Emmy Award-winning English language learning program that provides civic-focused instruction through videos centered on topics relevant to immigrant New Yorkers, including workers’ rights, healthcare, and workforce development. WSNYC is supported by volunteer-led community conversation workshops, creating space for learners to practice conversational English while connecting with others. WSNYC videos feature immigrants as the heroes of their own stories, navigating through and addressing challenges common to immigrant New Yorkers. WSNYC’s website is also a critical resource to educators, providing access to free English language learning materials. To learn more, visit