UTRGV partners with US Census on new campaign ‘The Road to 2020’

BY Letty Fernandez

UTRGV’s Office of Community Engagement partners with U.S. Census on newest campaign, The Road to 2020

More than 75 local community leaders, students and faculty visited UTRGV in Edinburg recently to participate in a community dialogue and presentation on the U. S. Census’ newest campaign, called The Road to 2020.

The UTRGV Office of Community Engagement collaborated with representatives from the U.S. Census Bureau-Denver Region to host the gathering, held at the Community Engagement and Student Success (CESS) building.

“We, as a university, serve as a liaison between the community and governmental agencies. Our mission is to facilitate dialogue on issues important to the communities,” said Cristina Trejo, assistant vice president for Government and Community Relations. “We bring these issues to light with our government partners and construct the platform for these conversations to take place. This was one of those opportunities.”

The community dialogue was designed as an opportunity to contribute thoughts and ideas on ensuring an accurate population count in the Valley. Participants learned strategic methods, and participated in table conversations on themes that included challenges and opportunities, messaging and outreach methods, student engagement, and technology.

Ramona Casas, a member of the ARISE organization, thanked the organizers for the opportunity to participate.

“We are here and we want to be involved in the planning process,” she said.

A member of the U.S. Census team was seated at each table, giving community members an open-mic forum to express concerns and to propose new ideas. Eduardo and José Saldaña, community activists of more than 50 years, suggested that the Census should relate to the community, via information and literature, the importance of being counted, and even proposed a catchy slogan in Spanish, urging that “our people” be counted: “En el censo 2020, que se cuente nuestra gente.”

“This has been a tremendous opportunity, as it shows us that the people in the Rio Grande Valley care about this,” said Cathy L. Lacy, regional director, U. S. Census Bureau Denver Region. “We will take all of what we learned back with us. We want to make sure that all that was proposed today is considered.

“We are excited to have had this opportunity to partner with the UTRGV Office of Community Engagement to bring this presentation to this region,” she said.

The Road to 2020 campaign will be launched in 2018 to bring awareness to the upcoming census in 2020. The information the census collects helps determine how more than $400 billion of federal funding is spent each year on infrastructure and services like hospitals, job-training centers, schools, senior centers, bridges, tunnels and other public works projects, and emergency services.

For more information, go to https://www.census.gov/en.html.