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City Of Weston, High Schoolers Work To Reach Hard-To-Count Residents For The Census

2020 census
Courtesy of the City of Weston
Everyone Counts In Weston is a piece of one of the city campaigns to attract residents to complete the census form this spring.

The 2020 census is getting closer. Households will start to receive official mail from the U.S. Census Bureau in about two weeks. 


The City of Weston has been doing a lot of outreach. It's on a mission to reach young, first-time census participants, parents and diverse populations to make sure everyone gets counted. 

One way the city is doing that is by using high school students to help with the marketing.


"It was great to see their perspective," said Pam Solomon, Weston's assistant director of communications.


The city approached the media studies class in the Cambridge AICE Diploma Program at Cypress Bay High School. They asked groups of students to research and pitch marketing campaigns around the census — specifically, how they would target hard-to-count populations.


"Some of the students took the approach of the culturally diverse," Solomon said. "We were also curious as to where to find those audiences, and what pockets of the community might need some extra attention."


According to the city, about 55% of its residents are considered hard-to-count.


"The more local you keep it, the more community you keep it, the more comfortable people will be with helping and filling it out," said Luis Andres Lageyre Rivas, a Cypress Bay senior. 


The goal of his campaign is to get teenagers to talk to each other, encourage their parents, and to recognize the importance of participating in the census for when they become their own heads of household 10 years from now. 


"One of the primary challenges going into this campaign was making the census cool," he said. 


Lageyre Rivas focused his campaign on emerging and social media, like making graphics for Instagram stories for the city. 


2020 census
Credit Courtesy of the City of Weston, Luis Andres Lageyre Rivas / WLRN
Lageyre Rivas created this Instagram story for the City of Weston, to get the message out on social media to people in the 18-34 age group.


"What I decided to run with was 'Tomorrow Starts Today' and the reason why is because that perfectly describes the purpose of the census," he said.


Data from the census determines congressional representation and the funding communities get for programs like Head Start, school lunches, and Medicare and Medicaid.


Denise Barrett-Miller, Weston's communications director, said another challenge the city has is to stress that filling out the census form is safe and confidential — regardless of someone's citizenship status. 


Read More: Census Bureau Finds Latinos, Asians Sensitive To Now-Blocked Citizenship Question


"We live in Florida, you go to Disney World and what do you do when you walk up to that gate? You put your fingerprint. When you come home at night you go online and you post pictures and you tag yourself and your kids on social media. I guarantee you, that people know more information about you on social media or on Amazon than you are ever gonna put on census," Barrett-Miller said. "They do not ask your Social Security number, they ask no information about bank accounts." 


The U.S. Census Bureau warns that if you get a call from someone claiming to be with the census asking for bank, social security, donations, or political information — it is a scam. 


"This is funding for the next 10 years for programs and services that are so important for everybody," Barrett-Miller said. "You, your neighbors, your children, your parents, your grandparents."


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