Boulder High’s Panther Z Club recently took on educating the community about the 2020 census as one of its service projects.
Members of the service and leadership club learned about the census and then made a public service announcement in English and Spanish to encourage participation. The videos are being shown on Boulder High’s Panther T.V. and shared through a census newsletter and by the Boulder Valley School District.
“Since most of us are Latinx students, we wanted to let our friends and family know to get counted,” said senior Samantha Ibarra, the Z Club’s president. “We want to get those minority counts we didn’t get in the last census. We want to impact our community positively.”
Boulder Valley is an official partner with the U.S. Census Bureau to publicize its upcoming count and encourage participation from hard-to-count populations. Those include children under 5, undocumented immigrants, non-English speakers, the homeless and LGBTQ people.
The official census day is April 1. Self-reporting starts in March, while census workers plan to visit places without responses from April through July. People will be able to respond to the census online, by phone or by mail.
“The census is incredibly important for our community and our school district,” said Boulder Valley spokesman Randy Barber, noting the count determines the distribution of $675 billion in federal money for everything from school district programs to roads to emergency services. “It’s so important that every person is counted. We want to make sure the services are there, not only in the school district but in our community.”
Boulder Valley’s efforts include adding a census information page to the district website, promoting it on social media and offering to have someone from the census speak to different groups in the district. In September, the school board approved a resolution in support of the census.
Monday also is the start of “Statistics in Schools Week,” with the census providing resources to Boulder Valley teachers to lead classroom activities on census data, as well as written information students can take home to their parents.
As part of the district’s census outreach efforts, Ari Gerzon-Kessler, the district’s director of equity and partnerships, and Ema Lyman, a Boulder Valley community liaison, gave a talk on a local Spanish radio show to address participation fears, especially among those who are undocumented.
Gerzon-Kessler said census workers take an oath to protect the information of respondents, while the census can’t use any of the answers provided for anything other than producing statistics.
“The office of the census is obligated by law to protect people and keep answers confidential,” he said. “There is no risk in providing the information.”
Students in Boulder High’s Z Club said the main concern they’ve heard also is from undocumented people worried about giving their information to the federal government.
“Some people are scared because of their background,” said junior Paola Garcia Barron. “We want to make sure these groups have representation.”
She added making a Spanish version of the video was particularly important to the club.
“We have the resources to reach out to a bilingual community,” she said.