The 2020 Census is an important part of Grand County funding. Every man, woman and child counted during the 2020 Census means about $1,500 in federal funding comes to the county each year. 15,000 residents amounts to about $22,500,000 in annual funding.
To help get the word out on the importance of participating in the census, Grand County received a grant of $60K to put toward community outreach and education.
County Communications Coordinator Alexis Kimbrough also acts as the County’s Complete Count Committee Chair. “This is the first time Grand County has organized a Complete Count Committee,” said Kimbrough. “It is so important that everyone is counted. Every person not counted costs the county about $15K over the course of ten years.”
Second homeowners, seasonal employees and the homeless population can all be counted as Grand County residents during the census, provided they are not being counted somewhere else. Kimbrough says there is no threshold for length of residence (e.g., 6 months + one day). The location of residence on April 1, 2020 is what people should use for the count.
According to Kimbrough, only 5% of the nation gets hand-delivered census ‘invitations’. Because the US Census Bureau will not mail Census 2020 ‘invitations to respond’ to PO Boxes, 95% of Grand County residents will receive their invitation from a census taker at their door.
Latest reports show that only 39% of census taker positions have been filled in Grand County. The temporary positions start in April, after training, and can go through the end of July. The positions allow schedule flexibility, can bridge the gap between seasonal employment and pay about $20 per hour on average. Kimbrough hopes local employers with seasonal staff will share the employment opportunity with their employees. Interested individuals (the true heroes) can learn more and apply at 2020census.gov/en/jobs.
Census scams have already begun to surface. “A census taker will never ask for personal information such as a social security or bank account number. They will have a badge that identifies them as official census takers,” she said.
Some residents decline to participate because they suspect their information will be shared with outside entities. Kimbrough stresses that the information collected by the census is protected by law under Title XIII and is not shared with any other entity, governmental or otherwise.
She added that there are also no citizenship questions on the 2020 Census Questionnaire. “It’s a simple ten question form (for each resident counted).” Every person, whether a family member or tenant/boarder, needs to be counted to determine current population numbers.
County Manager Kate McIntire said, “There are statistics that show people will be more likely to complete the census if they receive information from a position of trust. That is why local outreach is very important. It is the goal of the work Alexis is doing.” McIntire shared that while the data collection responsibility falls solely on the shoulders of the US Census Bureau, it benefits the county greatly to have accurate numbers.
Kimbrough has already begun to meet with Grand County residents and employers to educate them on the importance of this year’s census.
On February 12th, she spoke to the middle schoolers at West Grand. “It was a fun event,” said Kimbrough. “I was their age last time the census came around.” She said that children are often undercounted in the census. Helping them understand the importance and delivering the message to their parents is a way to engage families.
At Monday’s Economic Development Community Conversation, ‘Let’s Chat!’, Kimbrough hosted a ‘Lunch and Learn’ for a group of residents and employers at the Granby Library. She asked attendees to send her their ideas on ways to get the message out. “It’s going to take every person to make this successful. We have funds available. Keep thinking about those ideas to engage participation,” said Kimbrough.
She also plans to give presentations to each Town Board/Council over the next month, conduct a ‘Census 101’ in conjunction with Senior Nutrition on March 19, and send an educational mailer out to residents advising them of what to expect.
The physical ‘invitation’ is just one way residents can respond to the US Census. Once you have received your invitation to respond to the 2020 census, you can respond online, by phone or by mail. In order to be counted, responses must be given by July 31, 2020.
Alexis Kimbrough welcomes all thoughts and ideas for spreading the word on Census 2020. Send them to AKimbrough@co.grand.co.us.
To learn more about the census, visit 2020census.gov.