This content was originally published by the Longmont Observer and is licensed under a Creative Commons license.
Eric Galatas - Colorado News Connection
DENVER -- People of color make up more than 30% of Colorado's population, and civic leaders are working to ensure all residents are counted in the upcoming census - a once-a-decade survey that determines how the state is represented in Congress, and whether $13 billion in federal tax dollars a year will return to Colorado.
Deidre Johnson, CEO and executive director with The Center for African-American Health, said an accurate count is necessary to fund school lunch programs, health services, road improvements and more.
"Our community is a special place to live," Johnson said. "In order to keep our community special for the next generation, it's up to all of us to participate in the 2020 census."
An African-American Complete Count Committee has formed to address some of the distrust of government among people of color, and is tapping neighborhood voices including religious leaders and educators to increase participation. Advocates also are reaching out to immigrant and refugee communities, and a curriculum for English as Second Language students on the importance of the census is set to launch in February.
Last summer, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the Trump administration's efforts to add a citizenship question to the census, but many immigrants remain skeptical about giving the government personal information. The Constitution requires a count of all people living in the country, regardless of immigration status, and Johnson said filling out the 10-minute survey will not put families in harm's way.
"Getting counted in the census tells our leaders what our community needs, and that our voices and opinions matter," she said. "It's safe, easy and secure. In Colorado, everyone counts."
All data collected in the census is protected and will not be shared with other government agencies, and records are confidential for 72 years under federal law. Participants will be able to respond online or by phone in 13 languages: English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Russian, Arabic, French, Tagalog, Polish, Haitian, Creole, Portuguese and Japanese.