Census Seeks Hard to Reach
The local Census 2020 effort, led by 16 governmental bodies and bolstered by 250 entities and individuals, is pursuing creative ways to attract the interest of several “hard to reach” populations. Called A2PCCC for “Aspen to Parachute Complete Count Committee,” these leaders hail from business, institutions, governmental entities, media, nonprofits and chambers. They have identified seniors, seasonal workers, those without post office boxes, children and the Latinx community as populations that require additional awareness of census facts plus innovative ideas to incentivize them to participate.
Research has revealed that parents can be confused about whether they should count their children. To combat that perception, the A2PCCC committee is collaborating with the Roaring Fork School District to help inform students and families about the importance of the census and making sure everyone is counted. Specifically, they are partnering to create take-home activities and a “Count me” sticker for elementary students, as well as census-themed activities that teachers can do in Crew (homeroom) classes. The goal is to reach the 5,000+ kindergarten to 5th-graders in the Roaring Fork and Colorado River Valleys.
Kelsy Been, the Roaring Fork Schools Public Information Officer, says, "Not only do schools receive millions of dollars for federal programs based on census counts, but we are also uniquely positioned to engage our students and families around the importance of the census."
The Latinx population is another important group of people to educate. In the RE-1 school district alone, Latinx children make up 55% of the students, with high percentages also attending schools in the RE-2 and RE-16 districts.
Samuel Bernal-Urbina with the Spanish radio station, La Tricolor, was been instrumental in planning efforts to reach Latinx and immigrants. He was among those participating in a focus group with the Latinx audience to learn about their concerns, fears and questions. The programs and messaging to reach this audience was developed out of information gleaned from the focus group. Messages will utilize radio and digital ads, fact sheets and the website to communicate in both English and Spanish. Thanks to cooperation with some down valley organizations and churches, several community get-togethers will be staged to provide information about the census.
Another unique outreach method will be utilized to reach seniors. A singer/songwriter/guitarist will be visiting senior lunch sites throughout the region to give musical presentations and share educational information about the census.
Those without home mail delivery will be reached via a broad post office box holder mailing as well as door knocking, based on extensive mapping and research done by the A2PCCC. This effort will also target accessory dwelling and employee unit residents in places like Snowmass Village.
The area’s Chambers of Commerce and the Aspen Skiing Company will be instrumental in educating their business members and employees in order to reach seasonal workers. “We’ve found that most people don’t realize that everyone is counted in these ten-year census efforts, from birth to 99 or more. It doesn’t matter whether or not you are a citizen. If this is where you normally live, even if you just moved here, you need to be counted locally,” says Watkins Fulk-Gray, Staff Planner with the Town of Basalt.
Finally, the A2PCCC website - www.A2PCensus2020.com - provides multiple resources, again in both English and Spanish. It will launch on Tuesday, January 21.
This robust communications and outreach partnership among governmental entities, non-profits, businesses and media is unprecedented in this region. “The census is extremely important to all of us as residents of this area,” says Phillip Supino, Director of Community Development for the City of Aspen. “The data we get will drive funding for such things as roads, RFTA, health services, education and community projects. It also could mean the region is granted an additional congressional representative in Washington DC.
Census data brings in $13 billion in annual funding to Colorado. Colorado loses $2,300 per year for each person who doesn’t complete the census.
The census opens March 12, which means everyone with home delivery will receive a letter in the mail telling them they can fill out the census, for the first time, online, or via a phone call or hard copy. Those not completing the census by April 1 will receive reminders and will be visited at home by Census Bureau workers.