So you voted in the last election, the last primary, last year’s presidential election hopefully even your school elections. You know that civic participation is important and empowering.

Now its time to make sure you count. COUNT? Yes, count. The US Census Bureau is deep into the decennial census. Begun in 1790 the census has been carried out every 10 years since then and is treasure trove of data that historians, politicians, sociologists and marketing experts love to mine. The Census also determines redistricting and representation in Congress, at the state level and at the local level.

Currently Census figures are used to establish eligibility for “formula grants” — over 50 federal funding programs determine funding levels through formulas based on Census data. These grants run the gamut of Federal programs including Agriculture Department programs like the National School Lunch Program, Education Department programs like Special Education and Preschool, Health and Human Services programs like Headstart, Housing and Urban Development programs such as Community Development Block Grants, Justice Department programs such as Drug Control and System Improvement, Labor Department programs like Unemployment Insurance and Transportation programs such as Airport and Transit funding.

We need you to participate in the census because for every person not counted in our City we lose $9,000 in federal dollars for schools, roads, hospitals, homeless shelters and more.

In 2000, the Census Bureau estimates they missed at least 3,000 New Haven residents. A worse undercount is predicted this year — but you can change that.

Today, Yale College will be counted. Please help Yale achieve a “Complete Count” of all students, whether US citizens, residents or just visiting — all who are here should be counted. In addition, help the City and the Census Bureau by asking your off-campus friends, professors, co-workers and acquaintances if they have mailed back their Census forms.

John DeStefano, Jr.

April 1

The writer is the mayor of New Haven.