In order to encourage New Yorkers to participate in the 2020 census,  New York City is launching “Teach-In Tuesdays,” across all five boroughs on Tuesday. The teach-ins will continue until the census begins on March 12.

The events take their inspiration from educational campaigns, such as the anti-war and Occupy Wall Street movements, and will help communities understand why New York City residents should respond to the census. The teach-ins will also aim to dispel any myths surrounding the census, Julie Menin, the director of NYC Census 2020, told Gothamist. One major myth includes the controversial citizenship question.

“We have to remember that the Trump administration tried to weaponize the census,” Menin said. “We need to make sure that all New Yorkers know that the question is indeed off the census.”

The Supreme Court ruled last summer that the Trump administration could not add a citizenship question to this year’s census after a lawsuit filed by plaintiffs in New York and other states.

The teach-in events will also create a safe space to talk about the history of the census and how it has targeted minority communities, NYC Census 2020 officials said.

The census began in 1790 as a way to count white men and women, free people and slaves, according to Fortune Magazine. In 1850, a question was added asking about a person’s race and their country of origin. 

Before the end of World War II, the census had been used to count the number of Japanese-Americans living in the US and their information was used for internment camps, NPR reported. After the war ended, the government enacted a new rule that would protect census takers’ information so the mistake could never be repeated. 

This rule protects immigrants and their information, meaning if they take the census, none of their information will be shared for the next 72 years.

“Our information is private. The census is safe,” Kathleen Daniel, the field director for NYC Census, told Gothamist. The information cannot be released for 72 years after the census is filled out. In the future, the data will be used to trace a person’s ancestry.

Over 60 events will be held on Tuesday, from the Redfern Community Center in Far Rockaway, Queens to the Concourse House in the Bronx, and you can sign up on the city’s census website to attend. Most events start in the evening around 6 p.m. Future “Teach-in Tuesday” events, which will be added to the website later, will be more hyperlocal, organizers said, and the teach-in are part of a multi-pronged effort around census awareness.

They’ll be taught in English, Spanish, Cantonese, Hindi, and other local languages. Translators will also be on hand to help answer any questions.

“It’s imperative that New Yorkers understand the Census is safe, easy, and important to fill out, and city-wide teach-ins are crucial to mobilizing our communities,” Council Member Carlina Rivera and co-chair of the Council’s 2020 Census Task Force explained. “New Yorkers of all backgrounds are not only learning from their neighbors and trusted community organizations about how to fill out the Census, but they will be activated to get others involved in this once-in-a-decade count of our country.” 

Tuesday’s launch events will let New Yorkers know that they can fill out the census for the first time online and over the phone, starting on March 12.

“Self-response, DIY-ing the census, is the most accurate information that we can get,” Daniel said. “Who knows better who’s living in your house than you?”

Ten years ago, about 62% of New Yorkers self-responded to the census—14% less than the national average. In primarily black neighborhoods, 2010 participation in the census was around 40%-50%, according to the NYC Census 2020.

“This is a nationwide competition,” Menin said. “We’re in competition with other states. For every New Yorker who says ‘I’m not going to take the two minutes to fill it out,’ that basically means other states, Texas, Arkansas, and Kansas, are going to receive our funding.”

New York City is devoting $40 million to this census awareness campaign, making it the largest coordinated municipal census push in the country. The city relies on census counts to fund over 300 programs including public housing and public education.

The census also determines our political representation, Menin reminded. New York could lose up to two seats in Congress if New Yorkers don’t fill out the form.

“The loss of funding and the loss of congressional representation will largely go to red, Republican states that do not have large immigrant populations,” Menin said. “This can literally change the balance of the electoral college for years to come.”

The NYC census crew is also partnering with community groups and local libraries to host pop-ups for residents to fill out the census. Daniel revealed that 80 languages will be serviced in these pop-up events.

The teach-ins are a part of the city’s Complete Count Campaign Plan, focusing on trying to get historically undercounted communities to participate in the 2020 Census through a variety of measures including campaign-style outreach programs and partnering with community organizers. 

“The most important thing that New Yorkers need to think about is that this one time, every 10 years, we are all equal,” Daniel said. “We all count, no matter what your experience is, no matter how you got here. The census is about representation.”

This story has been updated to clarify that 62% of New Yorkers self-responded to the 2010 census, which is 14% lower than the national average (not 16%).