Please note the contest deadline now is January 31, 2020

The Contest

A creative writing, poetry and arts and video/audio performance contest for high school and college-age young people. You must be 14-21 years old and live in San Francisco to be eligible.

WHAT: Write a 400 word essay; design an art piece (painting, graffiti, mural); create a 2 minute video/audio – music rap or spoken word about your family. Explain who your family is, how and where your family lives, and why you think counting every member of your family matters to gain an accurate picture of the people who live in this city.

WHY: Every 10 years the U.S. Constitution requires that every person in the country be counted in order to determine how billions of federal dollars get spent for public services and how political power is distributed. The census is also like a huge mirror of our society that tells us who we are. But there is a big risk that some people — especially the youngest children — will go uncounted. And the federal funds that support youth programs will be reduced.

Your writing and art will help, the City and County of San Francisco, and news media, spotlight why each person is so important to ensure a complete and accurate count of this city.

HOW TO SUBMIT: Apply by email to Include in your email

1. your full name (last name, first name,)

2. email address

 3. home address

4. age and gender

5. submission category (categories include: essay, artwork, video and audio including poetry, spoken word, interviews or music.)

Acceptable formats for submissions are: .doc, .docx, .pdf and for audio and video, include youtube links.

Prizes will be given at an awards ceremony.

DEADLINE: Entries must be submitted before midnight on January 31, 2020. A judging panel of writers, artists and videographers will review all entries and the winners will be announced at a celebration in City Hall in 2020.

AWARDS: One first-place winner and one second place winner will be selected for each age group and category – essay, art work, video and audio. There will be eight first place winners and eight second place winners in all. Each first place winner will receive a cash prize of $500; each second place winner will receive a cash prize of $250. Winning entries will be publicized by the Office of Community Engagement and Immigrant Affairs (OCEIA) and syndicated by Ethnic Media Services to interested news media outlets and agencies working to promote the 2020 census.

Use these prompts to think about your project

• Who·is your family?

What is different about your family?

How would you describe your family to a total stranger?

Who in your family are you closest to and why?

If you do not live with blood relatives, who do you consider your family?

If you had to leave your family for some reason, who would you miss most in your family?

PROJECT SPONSORSHIP: The Why My Family Counts contest is a project funded by the Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs – San Francisco and coordinated by Ethnic Media Services under the fiscal sponsorship of the San Francisco Study Center. For more information please email or call 415-626-1650 and ask for My Family Counts.