A well-funded, coordinated campaign is underway in Oregon to ensure that everyone is counted in the 2020 U.S. Census, which focuses especially on traditionally underserved and hard-to-count communities.
Among other things, #WeCountOregon has been recruiting and training census workers with diverse backgrounds, including Native Americans, people of color and immigrants. Organizing efforts are taking place in cities and rural areas throughout the state.
Activities are increasing as census notices were mailed last week. Most Oregonians will be offered the choice of completing the census online or by phone before being mailed a paper form. Two events to encourage responses took place in Portland earlier this month..
One was an Ambassador Training Summit held at the Muslim Educational Trust Community Center Al-Madinah Hall in Tigard. Ambassadors are people trained to educate their peers about the census and to encourage them to complete the forms.
The other was a Census Field Organizer Job Fair, hosted by East County Rising and the Latino Network at Fairview City Hall.
The campaign also is opening and staffing Census Assistance Centers throughout the state. Locations include libraries, nonprofit organizations and food banks.
The goal is to ensure that 200,000 Oregonians are counted who might otherwise be missed, including minorities, children and renters.
The census is conducted every 10 years. An accurate count could give Oregon a sixth congressional seat, help allocate billions of dollars in additional federal funds every year, and help in the distribution of numerous other benefits.
"The census is about power and money," said the materials distributed at the sum-
Muslim Education Trust president and co-founder Wajdi Said urged Muslims to participate in the count at the beginning of the event, which was attended by more than 100 people, with most women wearing hijabs. He urged them to help increase the government-funded services that benefit everyone.
"If you're not at the table, you're part of the menu," Said told the crowd. He was joined onstage by Kayse Jama, executive director of Unite Oregon, which co-sponsored the event.
Campaign led by
people of color
The #WeCountOregon campaign is financed by the Census Equity Fund of Oregon, which was created by the United Way of the Columbia Willamette. It has raised around $10 million from other nonprofit organizations and governments, including the state of Oregon and the city of Portland.
The statewide campaign is organized and run by Dancing Hearts Consulting, a firm owned and operated primarily by people of color in Ashland. It was chosen by United Way after a competitive bidding process.
The firm had a team of trainers at the center. They're traveling to similar events across the state. Known as Census Equity Coordinators, they represent other co-sponsors, including the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, the Native American Youth and Family Center, Causa and PCUN.
"We are truly people included in the estimated 1 million members of hard-to-count groups in Oregon. I'm Latina and Native American and I have a 5-year-old; all of those identifiers make me historically hard to count," said communications director Mandy Yeahpau.
Find out about Oregon's census effort at wecountoregon.com.
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