Census Jobs and Outreach
By Dianne Anderson
It’s that time of decade again when people tend to pull down the shades and pretend they don’t hear the knock.
But rest assured, the Census enumerators will miss no door, and will likely come around more than once until that form is filled out. Community leaders are urging the Black and Brown communities to heed the warning that going into hiding costs big money.
Paula Wood, Executive Director of the nonprofit Success in Challenges in Long Beach, said that if the true numbers are not available, it means that federal funding will not flow down to support badly needed local programming in low-income communities.
This time around, the hope is to avoid a repeat of the 1990 Census when California alone lost $200 million in potential federal funding. In 2000, African Americans were severely undercounted in Orange, Los Angeles and Riverside Counties.
Even so, if the civic call to action is not motivating enough, then maybe the promise of temporary employment will help grab the community’s attention. Success in Challenges program is now taking applications to get folks into good-paying temporary Census jobs.
“They pay well, I think the lowest pay is $17 an hour. They don’t last forever, but while they last, they’re good,” said Wood.
The Census is still seeking participants with some experience in going out to speak with the public, and willing to knock on doors. Each visit takes 15 to 20 minutes, and also requires a bit of thick skin.
“You have to understand that some people are going to close the door in your face. You can’t be shy about that, or start crying,” she said.
The Census is also taking a more concentrated approach to get African Americans, Latinos and Cambodians working their own neighborhoods so the community is familiar, and more likely to respond.
“When people do go out they will have people that maybe will know them from the community or have people that look like them so they won’t be so hesitant to open the door, and willing to talk to. That’s also happening in the Latino and the Cambodian community,” she said.
The Census starts April 1. Her organization is one of the few local groups that largely works with African American families and youth in Long Beach. They are pushing to let the community know that they need to fill out the form of nine questions.
Her paid staff will be out with iPads, and they are specifically targeting the African American population. They’re hosting workshops at various churches, starting a campaign in some local barbershops, beauty shops to make sure the community is not undercounted.
There are several ways to sign up for the Census, including online, or at the door.
The community can also go to one of the Census Action Kiosks to fill out the forms, including her office at 5239 Atlantic Ave. during office hours to fill out an application online, or complete the Census form there.
Most people don’t know how much money is at stake.
“We’re reminding everybody to let them know how important it is,” she said.
Success in Challenges programming, now in its 16th year, offers year-round services to 65 students daily during the school year, and 45 daily during the summer. Their Freedom School program reading enrichment camp is a six-week reading program that starts at the end of June to the first part of August, sponsored by the Children’s Defense Fund.
They also work closely with local teen organizations, having participated in the city-wide teen network, which is also involved with the Census and register to vote, and in other leadership opportunities that want to ensure youth programs are getting the money they need from the city.
Some of their Success in Challenges older youth have worked with register to vote events in the past, and they have been invited to apply for the census jobs.
Since 2020 is also an election year, she also hopes some of their Census knockers will be able to tap other jobs. County, state and federal government, political parties and other organizations usually step up hiring efforts before an election.
She said they are going to need people to go out in the community to knock on doors and get people to vote.
“It’s a great year because it’s almost a two-pronged process,” she said. “We want people to register for the Census, but we also want them to vote too.”
For help with the Census, contact Paula Wood at 800.791. 5952 Ext.102, and firstname.lastname@example.org