2020 Census launches Get out the Count video challenge - AZEdNews
Sections    Monday March 20th, 2023

2020 Census launches Get out the Count video challenge

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  • Mabel Leal   |   U.S. Census Bureau

Census 2020 Video Challenge Details

The 2020 Census is live, and along with it, a first-of-its-kind prize video challenge to generate creative video content that explains why the Census matters, with prize awards totaling $50,000.

We’re reaching out far and wide to our partners and community stakeholders as this is an activity that anyone can do at home with any level of technology.

Visit the prize website or read below for more information.

2020 Census launches Get out the Count video challenge Census-2020-video-challenge-details

Get out the count video challenge background & context

The 2020 Census

The 2020 Census is a constitutionally mandated once-a-decade count of our nation. It is critical that we achieve a complete and accurate count of everyone living in the United States because the results determine how many representatives in Congress each state has — and how more than $675 billion federal dollars are distributed each year into communities for the next decade. The 2020 Census results inform spending for critical services like schools, hospitals, roads, fire departments, and much more.For further information and talking points about the importance of the 2020 Census, please refer to the 2020 Census Resources Guide and 2020census.gov.

Many people don’t know how important the census is to their community and day-to-day lives, and without further explanation or motivation, may not complete it at all. Further, in light of current global events, it’s important for people to know that it has never been easier to respond on their own, either online, by phone, or by mail, without having to meet a census taker.

To solve this problem and help promote a complete and accurate count of the population, communities, government, creators, and experts have banded together to create engaging content that explains the importance, use, and safety of the census, and how to complete it.  These efforts aim to make the 2020 Census a must-do for communities, particularly those considered “hard-to-count,” such as racial and ethnic minorities, young and mobile populations, families with young children, LGBTQ+, non-English speakers, among others.As part of this grassroots outreach effort, it is critical that entertaining and/or humorous content be created in ways that will deeply resonate with a broad audience, with a particular hard-to-count group, or both.

Census Accelerate

This prize challenge is a component of the U.S. Census Bureau’s innovation program called Census Accelerate Census Accelerate brings together creative professionals, national advocacy organizations, and local leaders to develop community-driven content about the importance of the 2020 Census.

Its purpose is twofold:

  • to amplify trusted voices in hard-to-count communities so that the messages resonate at a deep level, and
  • to fill content voids that can be exploited with disinformation intended to suppress 2020 census response rates.

Census Accelerate is launching this prize competition to reward 2020 Census-related videos with the highest visibility (or viral potential) and the highest impact (i.e., ability to move people to respond to the census). The challenge focuses on short-format video content — a medium that is relatively lacking in quantity and quality on user-generated platforms such as YouTube. The Census Bureau is conducting this challenge under the authority of and in accordance with the America COMPETES Act, as amended, 15 U.S.C. § 3719.

The challenge:

Explain why the census matters in a short (30 seconds to 3 minutes) video, designed for a platform such as YouTube, that uses entertainment, emotion, creativity, and/or humor to motivate people to respond.


See answers to frequently asked questions.


Financial prizes totaling at least $50,000 will be awarded through this challenge.

Prizes will be allocated as follows:

  • $30,000 for a grand prize winner
  • $10,000 for a runner-up
  • $10,000 for a student prize



Video eligibility:

To be eligible to participate in the Challenge, the applicant must submit a video that meets the following requirements:

  • Be 30 seconds to 3 minutes in length;
  • Be in a compatible YouTube format with the proper codecs: WebM files, MPEG4, 3GPP, MOV, AVI, MPEGPS, WMV, FLV with suggested aspect of 16:9;
  • Be fact-based and contain no misleading or false information;
  • Must include all elements of the submission requirements described above, including video link, team information, and video information. Videos or descriptions exceeding the length requirements or submitted after the stated deadline may not be reviewed.

Applicant eligibility:

This video prize challenge is open to any individual, team, or university student/student organization that can create a video that meets all of the requirements of this challenge. To be eligible to win a prize under the Challenge, those entering: (1) Must agree to participate in the competition under the rules and abide by the terms and conditions in this notice by submission of their contact information, video link, and video description; (2) Must comply with all submission, content, and format requirements.

Each individual, team, or student may submit more than one video to this Challenge. Multiple submissions from the same source will not be disqualified and will not be judged any differently than the rest of the videos that are submitted. Only videos that fulfill all necessary requirements and are submitted by the deadline will be accepted into the competition.

Additionally, to be eligible to apply for and win a prize in this Challenge, an individual or entity:

  1. In the case of a private entity, shall be incorporated in and maintain a primary place of business in the United States, and in the case of an individual, whether participating singly or in a group, shall be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States or U.S. territories.
  2. Must have registered to participate in the Challenge under the rules promulgated by the Census Bureau.
  3. Must have complied with all the stated requirements of The Get Out The Count Video Prize Challenge.
  4. May not be a Federal entity or Federal employee acting within the scope of their employment.
  5. May not be an employee of the Census Bureau.
  6. Federal grantees may not use Federal funds to develop COMPETES Act Challenge applications unless consistent with the purpose of their grant award.
  7. Federal contractors may not use Federal funds from a contract to develop COMPETES Act Challenge applications or to fund efforts in support of a COMPETES Act Challenge Submission.
  8. A submission may be disqualified if it fails to function as expressed in the description provided by the participant, or if it provides inaccurate or incomplete information.
  9. Applicants must not be currently under contract with the Census Bureau or other federal agency to perform work related to the product submitted for this competition.
  10. An individual or entity shall not be deemed ineligible because the individual or entity used federal facilities or consulted with Federal employees during a challenge, if the facilities and employees are made available to all individuals and entities participating in the challenge on an equitable basis.
  11. Participants may be asked in future stages of this competition to provide additional confirmation of their eligibility. The Census Bureau will determine whether applicants meet eligibility criteria.

Guidance on video content and format

Video requirements

  • The following are video requirements that must be met for videos to be considered eligible for this competition. Videos must:
    • Target at least one hard-to-count population, such as (but not limited to):  racial and ethnic minorities, non-native English speakers, millennials/gen Z, families with young children, (please see page 2 of the Resource Guide for a comprehensive list).
    • Be at least 30 seconds and no more than 3 minutes in length
    • Be digital and available online via a web link. Ideally, videos should be designed for or available on platforms such as YouTube.
    • Contain only accurate and factual content about the census. A resource guide is available as content guidance, as well as all resources on 2020census.gov. Questions or clarifications on census facts may be directed to census.accelerate@census.gov; clarifying questions are encouraged and will not impact eligibility or chances of winning a prize.

Video messaging guidance

  • All videos are strongly encouraged to:
    • Contain a balance of emotional storytelling and clear, relevant, motivating information.
    • Speak to the tangible benefits of the census. For example, the census means funding for your community for critical services like hospitals, health care, education, roads, SNAP, and more. (See the “key facts” section of the Resource Guide and 2020census.gov to learn more about the benefits.) It also determines how many representatives your state will have in the House of Representatives; these are the people who will vote on issues that deeply impact your life and community.
    • Focus on multiple benefits of completing the census where format allows.
    • Weave direct messaging into realistic, authentic situations that avoid stereotypingin order to clearly communicate the importance and relevance of census participation.
  • General messaging guidance:
    • Messaging that links 2020 Census participation to a better future for kids is broadly motivating.
    • In messaging research, “funding for your community” tested more strongly than “political representation” as a motivating factor.
    • Participants enjoy wit and tasteful humor, upbeat tempo, and inclusive imagery.
    • It is important to convey the message that the census is safe.
    • Consider the metaphor of “disappearing” — leaving valuable benefits on the table for you and your community, and communicating that the census impacts the next 10 years of your life.
  • Additional messaging guidance for specific audiences:
    • Consider using languages other than English (there are 59 language guides available; the census itself is available in 13 languages).
    • In messaging research, young people connected with diversity and inclusion and demonstrated a deep understanding of the key messages and effects of the census.
  • Strike the right tone in light of current global events:
    • As families and individuals across the U.S. settle into a new reality, people are searching for ways to connect with their communities from their living rooms. Parents and caregivers are looking for something to teach or do with their children, businesses are trying to stay afloat, and local governments are trying to keep their communities safe and informed. Despite the current situation, it’s important to remember that future funding for many of the critical healthcare and emergency services being used today will be determined by communities participating in the 2020 Census.
    • Key message to incorporate into videos:
      • It has never been easier to respond on your own, either online, by phone, or by mail, without having to meet a census taker.
      • Responding now will minimize the need for the Census Bureau to send census takers out into communities to follow up.

Please check this page for regular updates.

  • Additional timing considerations of the challenge, which will conclude in the “reminder phase”:When winners of this challenge are announced in May, the national census advertising campaign will be in the “reminder” phase.
    • The key message during this phase is that although the census will have kicked off in March, it’s not too late to respond.
    • Effective messages specific to the reminder phase include:
      • Convey urgency: it is important to fill out the census right away.
      • You can still respond online today before you get a knock on the door by a census-taker (officially called an “enumerator”).

Guidance for Video Tags and Titles

Appropriately tagging and titling videos can make them more visible and discoverable, and help mitigate other content that is problematic or misinformed.  Some suggested titles and/or tags, used by the U.S. Census Bureau and Census Partners, include:

  • #2020Census
  • Count Me In / #countmein
  • Count Us In / #countusin
  • I Count / #icount
  • We Count / #wecount
  • Be Counted / #BeCounted
  • Stand Up and Be Counted / #standupbecounted
  • Come to Your Census / #cometoyourcensus
  • Shape Your Future. Start Here. / #ShapeYourFuture
  • Cuenta Conmigo / #cuentaconmigo

Terms and Conditions

By participating in this challenge, participants:

  1. Agree to assume any and all risks and waive claims against the federal government and its related entities, except in the case of willful misconduct, for any injury, death, damage, or loss of property, revenue, or profits, whether direct, indirect, or consequential, arising from their participation in this prize contest, whether the injury, death, damage, or loss arises through negligence or otherwise.
  2. Agree to indemnify the Federal Government against third party claims for damages arising from or related to Challenge activities.
  3. May not be a judge of the challenge, or any other party involved with the design, production, execution, or distribution of the Challenge or the immediate family of such a party (i.e., spouse, parent, step-parent, child, or step-child).
  4. By submitting an application, applicants confirm that they have the written consent of any person or business to appear in the video, or the parent or guardian of any minor who appears in the video.
  5. Applicants must understand that it is their sole responsibility to review and understand their employers’ policies regarding eligibility to participate in this prize challenge. If applicants are participating in violation of employee policies, they may be disqualified from entering and/or receiving prizes. The Census Bureau disclaims any and all liability or responsibility for disputes arising between an employee and their employer related to the competition, and prizes will only be awarded in compliance with the employer’s policies.
  6. Agree that the United States Census Bureau, YouTube, or any other associated affiliate has the applicant’s permission to use their video, likeness, profile and/or story in all forms of media and all manners, including publications, web pages and other promotional materials. Applicant understands the circulation of the materials could be worldwide and that there will be no compensation to the applicant for this use. Applicant waives any right to inspect or approve the finished product, including written copy that may be created in connection therewith.


  1. A video may be disqualified if it fails to function as expressed in the description provided by the participant, if it provides inaccurate or incomplete information, or if any components of the video are deemed offensive, unsafe or inappropriate.
  2. A video may be disqualified if it is not the original work of the creator(s) or infringes upon any copyrighted material that is not the original work of the creator(s).
  3. The submitting team must not use government logos or official seals and must not claim endorsement by the Census Bureau or Department of Commerce.

Judging Criteria

Judging Process

All video entries will first be screened to ensure the applicants and videos meet the basic eligibility  criteria and guidelines on format, length, and accuracy. Submissions passing this screening will then be reviewed by experts from the U.S. Census Bureau, government, the technology and creative media industries, and non-profits or advocacy organizations with relevant expertise. Each submission will be scored by multiple reviewers on the following five criteria, which are described in detail below:

  • Potential for impact (25%)
  • Ability to reach one or more hard-to-count communities (25%)
  • Technical quality (20%)
  • Viral potential (15%)
  • Creativity (15%)

Judging Criteria

  • Potential for Impact (25%): This score focuses on the overall impact of the video, especially emotional impact. This includes questions such as:
    • How compelling is the video?
    • Does this video incite and inspire viewers to respond to the census?
    • Is this video memorable?
  • Ability to Reach to Hard to Count Population(s) (25%): This score focuses on the ability of the video messages to meaningfully reach hard-to-count populations. Each video must target at least one hard-to-count (HTC) population,  such as (but not limited to): ethnic and racial minorities, non-native English speakers, millennials/gen Z, families with young children, (please see page 2 of the Resource Guide for a comprehensive list). The score for this category includes considerations such as:
    • Does the video effectively communicate messaging to the selected HTC group(s)?
    • Does the video accurately utilize specific cultural, historical, or language assets to strengthen messaging?
    • Will the targeted HTC group(s) find the video meaningful?
    • Has the video been tested and iterated based on feedback from targeted viewers?
  • Technical Quality (20%): This score focuses on the overall quality of the video including audio and visual content. This includes questions such as:
    • Does the video have clear audio and visual content?
    • Is the video easily comprehensible for diverse members of the target population?
  • Viral Potential (15%): This score focuses on the overall potential of the video to “go viral.” Virality is defined as the tendency of content to be circulated rapidly and widely from one internet user to another. This includes questions such as:
    • Is this video already viral or does it have a clear pathway to become viral via the medium, audience, creator, and/or distribution channels?
    • Has the video been tested and iterated based on feedback from targeted viewers?
    • Does the video have potential or have proven ability to touch a wide range of audience types?
  • Creativity (15%): This score focuses on the overall creativity of the content of the video. The highest scoring videos will find innovative ways to inform, inspire, and incite action among viewers of the nation. Considerations include:
    • Are the content or technical features novel and interesting?

Selection of Winners

Winners of the Challenge will be selected and announced in May 2020. The videos with highest scores from the preliminary judging panel will be considered finalists and may be passed along for further review by additional expert or “VIP” judges from government and industry.  Selection of winners is ultimately at the discretion of the U.S. Census Bureau.

All prize awards are subject to U.S. Census Bureau verification of the winners’ identity, eligibility, and participation in the Challenge. The  Census Bureau will award three prizes as follows:

  • Grand Prize: $30,000
  • First Runner Up Prize: $10,000
  • Student Prize: $10,000.

How To Enter

Each team or individual wishing to participate in this challenge must submit an application package including the information described below by 11:59 p.m. PT on April 10, 2020. To apply, participants should email the required information to census.accelerate@census.gov at any time during the submission period stated above (March 12, 2020 to April 10, 2020) with the Subject Line: “Prize Submission: [Team Name], [Title of Video].”  Please include a web link to your video and the required written information as described in the “What to Submit” section. 

What to Submit

Applicants to this challenge must submit a digital video meeting the audience, length, format and accuracy requirements described above, along with a brief description of the team and video, as described below.

All submissions must include (1), (2)and (3) below.  Number (4) and student information are optional. 

(1) Link to a 30-second to 3-minute Digital Video

  1. Applicants must submit a digital video via a web link, to a platform such as YouTube or another web location where the video can be accessed by judges and the general public. The video must meet the format and message requirements stated above, including length (30 seconds to 3 minutes) and factual accuracy.

(2) Team information: In a word or PDF document, please briefly state:

  1. Who created the video being submitted? State the names, project roles, and organizational affiliations of people who were involved in production of the video.
  2. Who will receive funds if awarded?  State which individual(s) or organization(s) will receive the prize funds if awarded.
  3. (Optional) Student information:  If you are a full-time student and wish to be considered for a student prize, you must submit the following for each applicant: age and academic institution where the submitting team members are students (school and year of graduation). If selected as a winner, you may be asked to verify student status; any such personal information collected from candidates is subject to the U.S. Census Bureau Online Privacy Policy. If you are not a student or do not wish to be considered for a student prize, you do not need to submit Student Information. Student applicants can still be considered for the grand prize or runner up prize. Students under the age of 18 are permitted to apply for the Prize Challenge with a consent form signed by a parent or guardian; please email census.accelerate@census.gov to request this form.

(3) Video information:  In the same word or PDF document, in no more than 2 page single spaced (at least 11 point standard font), please briefly describe the following information about the video:

  1. Which Hard To Count community(ies) are targeted in this video? Videos must target at least one HTC community from the list described on page 2 of the Resource Guide and 2020census.gov.
  2. How did you engage members of the target HTC community? Describe whether and how you engaged people from the targeted HTC group(s) in developing or testing the video content, seeking feedback, iterating on the video, and/or engaging them directly in production. If you did not engage members of the target community directly, explain why you believe this video will resonate meaningfully with the audience.
  3. How and when was this video made? Briefly describe the production timeline and process.
  4. How will you share this video widely with your target audience? Describe how, within whatever resources you have available, you will distribute this video, increase its virality, and ensure that members of the target audience are viewing the video.
  5. Please include a transcript of the video. This will help the judges review for accuracy.

(4) Optional: What inspired you?  As an optional addition to their submissions, applicants may submit up to one (1) additional page, or up to 1 additional minute of video, explaining what or who inspired them to create this video. 

Submissions can be modified until the deadline (4/11/2020 at 2:59am ET).  Application materials received after the deadline will not be evaluated.  Please note that if teams submit revisions or multiple versions of the same application, the latest application package sent will be the only one evaluated. Each video entry must be accompanied by the required written information, including team information and video information.

Submission Email: census.accelerate@census.gov

Point of Contact

Have feedback or questions about this challenge? Send the challenge manager an email