Liberty’s Promise and Census 2020

April 2020

A Community Partner Guest Post
Liberty’s Promise supports immigrant youth in the Greater Washington region by providing them with means to become actively involved in civic life, pursue higher education, and embark upon meaningful careers. In the fall of 2019, we introduced the topic of the census to our youth through our two after school programs at Gaithersburg High School, Civics and Citizenship, and Civic Engagement for Beginning English Language Learners (CE‐BELL). We started by discussing what the census is and how important it is for the community and the country. We explained how the Census is safe and anonymous, and does not put the population, including the most vulnerable individuals such as undocumented residents, at risk of being exposed to law enforcement authorities.

Our youth learned about how they can play a crucial role in Gaithersburg’s outreach efforts in hard-to-count census tracts. We invited a graphic designer employed by the City of Gaithersburg to give our youth insight on how to design a flyer. With the help of the graphic designer, youth worked together in small groups and used their talents to design and create posters to display at Gaithersburg High School. Our youth also participated in a photo and video shoot as part of the Gaithersburg Census 2020 campaign. Youth and staff alike enjoyed being part of the event, and are now featured on the City’s website. If you drive around Gaithersburg, you may see them on promotional posters at various bus stops!

Since schools closed in early March in response to COVID-19, Liberty’s Promise has been working to adjust our programs. We are now relying on social platforms, video-conferencing, and phone calls to continue our work with our youth. Census outreach will no longer be conducted in-person, so our youth are working on crafting a video message and a graphic to share on social media. Despite challenges presented by COVID-19, our youth are still working to help achieve a Complete Count for Census 2020 in our community of Gaithersburg!  

By Julien Labiche, Director of Montgomery County and Prince George’s County Programs, Liberty’s Promise.
Liberty’s Promise was featured in the Special Census 2020 edition of in Gaithersburg. Click to read: “OUTREACH & ADVOCACY: Census and Youth Mentoring Programs

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Investing in A Complete Count for the 2020 Census

Brendon Smith January 2020

The Crimsonbridge Foundation has awarded $60,000 in grants to five nonprofit organizations in the Greater Washington region that are working to increase participation in the 2020 Census. The organizations, which include Ayuda, Identity Inc., Latin American Youth Center, Liberty’s Promise, and Mary’s Center, are committed to supporting a complete count effort that includes the clients, families, and communities they work with every day.

Why is it important for philanthropy to invest in getting a complete census count? The census informs how government, businesses, researchers, and communities make significant decisions, including allocating political representation, opening or closing businesses, and providing social services. It is estimated that more than 55,000 individuals in the Greater Washington region were undercounted in the 2010 Census and that the full need of our community was not captured.

According to a 2016 report from the Census Bureau, low-income communities, English language learners, and immigrants are among populations that are historically undercounted in the census. The census is supposed to count every living person in the U.S., regardless of citizenship status. Although the Supreme Court ruled against including a citizenship question in the 2020 Census, an atmosphere of misinformation, fear, and uncertainty persists, heightening the risk of an undercount.

In 2019, the Crimsonbridge Foundation expanded its Bridges Program, which supports nonprofits in developing communications tools and strategies to effectively reach and engage with bilingual and Spanish-speaking families, to include work specific to the 2020 Census. Organizations were selected for Bridges Census 2020 grants based not only on their outreach strategy, but on their knowledge, established relationships, and expertise in working with multi-lingual immigrant communities.

The following is a snapshot of the 2020 Census Complete Count plans for each of the five grant recipients. To learn more we encourage you to visit the websites of these community partners.

Ayuda, a nonprofit legal services provider, has developed a multi-pronged strategy that involves outreach through social media and community events, as well as training staff attorneys, social workers, and volunteers on how to talk to their clients about the census. All outreach will be conducted in multiple languages, including Spanish, French, Amharic, Tagalog, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Portuguese.

Identity, Inc., which works with youth and their families who live in high-poverty areas of Montgomery County, will execute their ¡Tú Sí Cuentas! You Do Count! project throughout Montgomery County to ensure that low-income Latinos, recent immigrants, and TransLatinx residents are counted in the 2020 Census. The project will start with a needs assessment to determine the primary obstacles that are likely to prevent individuals from completing the census in 2020. Identity will then create an awareness and outreach strategy to be implemented in five of the top ten non-respondent communities of Montgomery County.

Latin American Youth Center, which has served immigrant youth and families in the region for more than 50 years, will leverage a current program, the Teen Center Media Program, and create a cohort of 30 youth who will learn about the census and design a plan to increase local participation and awareness. After researching the effects of the census on their community, youth will work in the LAYC’s Media Arts Lab to develop bilingual outreach materials on census facts and myths and execute an outreach campaign in the Columbia Heights neighborhood.

Liberty’s Promise is partnering with the City of Gaithersburg to target census outreach and education to a specific hard-to-count census tract in Gaithersburg, where nearly half of residents are foreign-born, and 20 percent report that no one in the household speaks English “very well.” Liberty’s Promise will add a census component to their existing civic engagement program at Gaithersburg High School, which is offered in English and Spanish. Youth participants will attend regional complete count meetings and develop and execute an outreach plan designed to increase response rates in the hard-to-count community in which they live.

Mary’s Center, a provider of high-quality healthcare, education, and social services, will identify and train Census Champions from among their staff to lead efforts throughout the organization to educate and motivate staff and community members around the 2020 Census. By incorporating census education into the existing workflow, Mary’s Center will reach more than 500 community members each day. Mary’s Center received a grant from the DC Mayor’s Office to support census outreach in DC, and Crimsonbridge support will expand outreach to their two Maryland sites.

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