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Creating Partnerships to Better Serve Our Communities

Thu Apr 26 2018
Written by: Dr. Ron Jarmin, performing the non-exclusive functions and duties of the Director of the U.S. Census Bureau
Component ID: #ti176152146

To conduct a complete and accurate 2020 Census, we have to work closely with national and local leaders. On April 13, I had the opportunity to visit Providence, Rhode Island, the site of our 2018 Census Test to participate in a Census Solutions Workshop. Over the course of the day, I met local community leaders, service providers, advocates for children, innovators, foundations, elected officials and other key stakeholders.

Component ID: #ti276319350

The Rhode Island Census Solutions Workshop, hosted by the Urban League of Rhode Island, provided a creative, collaborative, problem-solving space that brought together diverse community members to address critical census-related challenges and opportunities. By using a “Design Thinking” workshop format, partners were able to brainstorm around specific challenges and come up with creative solutions that could benefit multiple sectors or audiences in different ways.

“Design Thinking” is an iterative process that organizations use to understand the user, challenge assumptions, and redefine problems to identify alternative strategies and solutions that might not be instantly apparent. Through this process, we discussed the importance of obtaining census data, reaching hard-to-count populations and increasing participation in the 2020 Census.

We heard from speakers such as Nellie Gorbea, Secretary of State of Rhode Island; Jorge Elorza, Mayor of Providence; Herman Lessard, Jr., National Urban League Senior Vice President for Affiliated Services; and Dr. Beverly Ledbetter, chair of the Urban League of Rhode Island and general counsel of Brown University. Each spoke passionately about the importance of census data and a complete and accurate 2020 count. The daylong event, moderated by Flo Gutierrez, senior associate at Annie E. Casey Foundation-Kids Count, was interactive and hands-on, as 50 participants went through a creative process to generate new and innovative ideas and partnerships.

Specifically, the group focused on two critical issues: amplifying the collaborative partnerships and resources to ensure young children (ages 0 to 5) are accurately counted in the 2020 Census, and improving the undercount of hard-to-count populations, particularly among young African American men (ages 16 to 24).

We discussed developing outreach strategies to address the digital divide (low internet connectivity areas) in communities of color and other hard-to-count communities and using libraries as community hubs to increase the count of young children, for census education, awareness, and participation, especially among hard-to-count communities.

The National Urban League has been a long-time partner with the Census Bureau — supporting the importance of the decennial, especially for communities of color. Other co-sponsors and collaborators included Annie E. Casey Foundation-Kids Count, Rhode Island Kids Count, Children’s Leadership Council, Rhode Island Library Association and Rhode Island Office of Library and Information Services.

Participants shared with the group their ideas, prototypes, concepts, and storyboards as the final step of the ideation process, and they networked and discussed next steps to collaborate at a local, regional and national level.

The objectives for the day included:

  • Build connections and seed collaborations between organizations and individuals committed to a successful 2020 Census.
  • Develop ideas that can lead to a stronger awareness and outreach census approach in Rhode Island and nationally.
  • Build momentum toward making ideas come to life by generating commitments and developing them through 2020.
  • Showcase a model that other cities and towns can use to create collaborative relationships with stakeholders, and ideas to reach their own hard-to-count populations.

Through collaborations like these and other public and private initiatives like The Opportunity Project, community leaders, organizers, representatives from faith-based organizations, local children's advocacy groups, elected officials and representatives from technology companies worked together to bring their ideas to life to achieve a complete and accurate 2020 Census count.

To learn more about how your organization can partner with the Census Bureau and how to host your own Census Solutions Workshops, please visit <>.

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