The City of Mesa awarded the Center for Community and Civic Engagement a grant to help generate public interest and provide accurate information about 2020 U.S. census.census. The grant, worth $9,500, has been designated to fund student “census ambassadors” who will promote the count through social media interaction and community engagement.
“Citizens from the Mesa area have met for the last six months or so to look at what we could to make sure that our citizens are counted, educated and aware of what’s happening with the census,” Duane Oakes, director of the Center for Community and Civic Engagement, said. “One of those ideas was to create ‘census ambassadors’ to help college students become more engaged and help them become aware of it.”
Census ambassadors will work closely with Mesa city officials to canvas popular social media platforms and promote a new electronic pledge created by the census department called “ICount 2020.” The pledge will send reminders about the census using volunteered contact information such as an email address or phone number. Stipends are available to students who participate.
The census has been estimated to be worth over $3,000 per person counted in public funding. The allocated money from the federal government and helps fund public benefits such as the Federal Application for Student Aid, welfare, food stamps and more for members of the local community.
Phi Theta Kappa’s Honors and Action Committee voted to adopt the census as their major project over the semester after a presentation by Jeffrey Robbins of the City of Mesa official 2020 census task force.
“It is very important for every student here, because the census deals into funding for all sources of things, it deals into health, it deals in education, it deals in food stamps and just about anything or any program that you can think of. The census has a part to play,” Drea Astorga-German, Honors in Action officer, said.
Mesa’s 2020 census task force is also looking to recruit students for paid work with the count.
In particular, students who speak multiple languages are sought after to increase community engagement with non-English speaking members of the community. An estimated 900 to 1000 positions could be available to local community members through this census organization.
“They are looking to hire full time, part time, and flexible,” Oakes said.
Still, the 2020 census is a point of anxiety for some students. The Trump administration’s push to include a citizenship question for the 2020 census has been a primary concern for non-citizens. While the census no longer includes this particular citizenship question, students are still wary of the potential immigration issues a census count may cause.
“I see both ends of the census. How people can be fearful with the world we’re living in right now,” Elizabeth Ward, executive vice president of ASMCC, said. “ Is it really protected? Is my information actually getting out there? People are scared that if they are not legal…they don’t know if something is going to happen.”
Phi Theta Kappa’s Honors in Action committee is providing applications for census ambassadors. Over 50 census ambassador positions are available for anyone interested in working to inform the public about the census. A $200 stipend has been proposed for those who do.