The 2020 census
A complete count will shape funding and representation
in our community for the next 10 years.
This is the year of the decennial census, and Project: VISION is empowering its youth and parents to outreach to the Chinese-American community! The census determines how federal funding is allocated to communities, as well as political representation in the House of Representatives. If people are undercounted, as immigrants tend to be, then the Chinatown community may lose funds it could use for schools, hospitals, and other public services.
This year, people can fill out the census online when households are mailed a letter with a unique code. Project: VISION is trying to inform as many people in the community as possible about the census and provide assistance for filling out the questionnaire.
A complete count in the 2020 Census means resources, representation, and POWER for all of our communities across Illinois.
Learn More about census
On April 1st, we opened up a Zoom channel for parents and anyone else interested to receive help filling out the census in Chinese. Although the census is online this year at my2020census.gov, where there is a Chinese language option available, many families that Project: VISION serves still need help navigating to the Chinese language option and understanding what the census questions are asking.
Despite holding questionnaire assistance online, we still had a decent turnout and helped 14 parents complete the 2020 census! While traditionally, immigrants have been hard-to-count populations for the census, those 14 households will be counted and their data used for deciding political representation and allocation of federal funding to our community for infrastructure, schools, etc.!
In addition to Project: VISION’s staff helping our families fill out the census, our parents and students have also been active in engaging their community. This year, Project: VISION has been coordinating the Parent Mentor Program at Ward and Haines Elementary Schools, and one of our Parent Mentors, who is also a PV parent, helped provide language assistance to other parents.
We also created a video to teach youth how to do the online questionnaire for their families. PV’s high school students in the Young Positive Agents of Change (YPAC) leadership program provided their input and ideas for the family that would be featured (the Incredibles family)!
Young Positive Agents of Change
Throughout May and June, Project: VISION hosted virtual census enrichment workshops for students.
In May, students planned their own cities’ community services based on the number of tokens they got. Number of tokens were decided based on the population of their cities. This was to model the distribution of federal funds based on population data from the census. Given a limited amount of tokens to spend on services, students were encouraged to think about what services they felt were most important for their cities. Through this activity, they experienced how dramatic an effect that population can have on amount of community services that are available. We hope they were able to see how important it is that everyone is counted.
We hosted our last virtual Census enrichment session of the school year in June! Students have been learning about different applications of data gathered throughout by the U.S. Census Bureau. For this last session, students explored the Opportunity Atlas, which shows data on factors such as median household income and employment rate for different parts of the United States. They learned that the self-response rate for the Chinatown area census tract is still relatively low. That’s why a complete count in the 2020 Census means resources and representation for all of our communities. While Census Day was in April, households can still respond to the census until the end of October. We’re encouraging our students and families to both fill out the census for themselves and help others to fill it out in order to get federal funding and representation for our communities!
Immigrant households, such as those Project: VISION serves, are often undercounted in the census. Project: VISION is located in Tract 8411 which has a self-response rate of only 52.2%. This means that this area will most likely not receive a fair share of funds needed when government allocates federal dollars for schools, infrastructure, and social services!
However, thanks to funding from the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Project: VISION can hire 2 census interns this summer to help support census outreach efforts to families and youth in the Chinatown and Bridgeport areas, as well as to surrounding neighborhoods. Already, 7 of our students have submitted strong applications! This internship allows us to empower youth to reach their own peers and provides them an opportunity to gain work experience. Given the COVID-19 pandemic, households now have until October 31st to fill out the census! Obtaining an accurate count of Chinatown and other neighborhoods is important for ensuring that they get the resources and representation they deserve.