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Thursday, November 16, 2000

“Census Heroes Summit” Recognizes Community-Based Organizations

WASHINGTON – The Congressional members of the U.S. Census Monitoring Board today hosted a “Census Heroes Summit” to honor 12 community-based organizations from across the nation whose efforts proved instrumental in ensuring that hard-to-count communities and neighborhoods will be more accurately reflected in the 2000 Census count.

Among those honored were the Columbus Urban League (Columbus, OH), Asian Pacific American Legal Center (Los Angeles), Texas A&M University Colonias Program (Laredo, TX), Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority (Atlanta, GA), and the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund (New York City).

“Thanks to the outstanding work of these groups, areas that were traditionally undercounted in the Census in the past should receive a fairer, more accurate population count in the 2000 Census,” said Monitoring Board Co-Chairman J. Kenneth Blackwell.  

“I proudly join the Congressional Members of the Census Monitoring Board in saluting these fine organizations and their members. Their use of innovative programs to provide targeted solutions has resulted in a more accurate head count that empowers local residents by giving a greater voice to these hard-to-count communities,” added Blackwell.

Each of the honorees played a major role in their local community in ensuring that the hardest-to-count neighborhoods, with an emphasis on low-income and minority communities, were not undercounted in the 2000 Census.

The community groups cited a number of keys to their success, including cultural sensitivity for new immigrant and linguistically isolated communities, and ensuring that trusted third parties delivered the census message and were available for assistance in these communities.

In Los Angeles, for example, the Asian Pacific American Legal Center used long-standing connections to the community and their own resources to support a more accurate enumeration by translating Census materials into more than 20 languages.  This allowed partner organizations to educate members of immigrant communities and promote participation in the Census.

As part of their Census outreach effort, the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund served traditional constituents and newer Mexican immigrant communities throughout the Northeast and in Puerto Rico.  They provided real-time support to the community by translating materials and offering testing sites.

Blackwell noted that the Census Monitoring Board will include the “best practice” programs implemented by these organizations in a future Report to Congress.  “It is our hope that the dynamic work of these groups will be a model for future Census counts in America’s hardest-to-count communities and neighborhoods,” he concluded.  

The event, which was webcast live, will be archived and available for viewing for 90 days following the event.  The summit was held in the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center in Washington, DC.

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