Local Schools: Counting on You to Take the Census

Need a reason to take the Census next year? Schools in your community are counting on it. Several important programs for students rely on Census data, in whole or in part, to determine how much funding districts in your area receive. Programs that help low-income students, like Title 1 grants; programs that help students with special needs, like Special Education Grants; and programs that feed children in school, like the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program all rely on Census data when allocating hundreds of millions of federal dollars to Arkansas every year.

To make sure that these programs are funded at a level that help all children who qualify for those programs, many of whom are in school districts whose budgets are already stretched thin, we need an accurate Census count in 2020.

In Census outreach, a best practice is to use “trusted voices” to raise awareness about the significance of the Census in our communities. It could be a local mayor, a well-respected community activist, or — kids! The Census Bureau’s Statistics in Schools program has lesson plans for Pre-K-12 teachers that allow students to use Census data in the classroom. While they are learning how to count or are analyzing unemployment data, students are also learning what the Census is and why is important. And, it is hoped, those students will go home and tell their parents about the Census.

But there are other ways that schools and students can help raise awareness about the Census and get out the count next year. Some schools in the country have formed student-led groups that plan outreach efforts in their schools. Some school districts, like in Hope, Arkansas, are planning to have kiosks where parents can take the Census when they are picking their children up from school.

How can your schools and students help get out the count next year?