Allentown LGBT community center gets grant for 2020 Census

Census Illustration by Ash Cheshire

The Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center in Allentown received a national grant from the American Library Association (ALA) to support 2020 Census work in the LGBT community. The LGBT Library at Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center was one of 59 libraries nationwide to receive a $2,000 Library Census Equity Fund grant from the American ALA.

The ALA is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. The ALA awarded the grants to bolster library services to hard-to-count communities and help achieve a complete count in the 2020 Census.

Adrian Shanker, Executive Director of Bradbury-Sullivan Community Center, told PGN that the Bradbury-Sullivan Center was “the only LGBT community center to receive the grant, and the only agency of any kind to receive the grant in Pennsylvania.”

Shanker said, “Participation in the Census is critical, especially for underserved populations like the LGBT community.”

“There are very real fears that LGBT people won’t participate in the 2020 Census,” said Shanker, “Sometimes LGBT people have concerns about sharing details about our lives when we are not protected by law.”

Shanker also noted that “mainstream organizations don’t always know how to find us.”

These are some of the reasons Shanker said he is “so grateful to the American Library Association for creating the Library Census Equity Fund to provide resources that make it possible for us to outreach to the LGBT population in our community about the importance of completing the 2020 Census.”

The Library at Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center includes a collection of more than 2,300 library materials and regularly hosts authors for book talks. Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center is a member of ALA.

With support from ALA’s Library Census Equity Fund, The LGBT Library at Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center will host a community forum to expand awareness and understanding of census activities for hard-to-count populations, including LGBT individuals. And the center will facilitate participation in the census by opening The Cyber Center at Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center to anyone wishing to complete an online census form.

Wanda Brown, ALA president, said, “The efforts of The LGBT Library at Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center will shine a light on all the library workers across the country who are shouldering efforts to reach and inform their communities — especially vulnerable and hard-to-count populations — about the importance of a full and inclusive count.”

The results of the 2020 Census will affect communities across the country. More than $1.5 trillion in federal funds are allocated each year to state and local governments based on census data. When residents are missed in the census, their communities miss out on needed funding for services such as libraries, schools, healthcare and transportation.

Shanker urged “anyone who does not have internet access to come and use our Cyber Center” and emphasized the critical importance of the census to the LGBT community.

The U.S. Constitution requires a census of all residents every 10 years. In the 2020 Census, residents will have the choice to respond online, by phone or by mail. The U.S. Census Bureau will send mailings to households prior to Census Day, which is April 1, 2020.

Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center provides arts, health, youth and pride programs to strengthen and support the LGBT community across the Greater Lehigh Valley. The Library at community center received the 2018 Allentown Arts Ovation Award for Outstanding Achievement in Literary Arts.

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Victoria A. Brownworth is a Pulitzer Prize-nominated award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Baltimore Sun, DAME, The Advocate, Bay Area Reporter and Curve among other publications. She was among the OUT 100 and is the author and editor of more than 20 books, including the Lambda Award-winning Coming Out of Cancer: Writings from the Lesbian Cancer Epidemic and Ordinary Mayhem: A Novel, and the award-winning From Where They Sit: Black Writers Write Black Youth and Too Queer: Essays from a Radical Life.