Philadelphia Mayor, Jim Kenny, said “an accurate count is vital in our city’s future, which is why we established the Complete Count Communities. We know that community education and outreach leading up to the 2020 Census will be key to a successful count and we are prepared to do the work to make it happen.”
On September 17, 2019, thirty people responded to the Mayor’s call to action. They gathered inside the Coach House at Bartram’s Garden to participate in the Census champion training that AFRICOM hosted in collaboration with the City of Philadelphia’s Complete Count Committee. Since October 2018, AFRICOM, a member of the PA Keystone Count Coalition and the African and Caribbean Complete Count Sub-committee, has planned to build capacities, conduct an awareness campaign, and empower African and Caribbean immigrants to respond to the Census 2020 surveys.
The men, women, and youths, who attended the September 17 training understood that they are Census Champions, they are the trusted messengers whose mission is to end civic disengagement among African and Caribbean immigrants and the narrative that they are at risk of being undercounted. Participants learned that an undercount would result in a shortage of public education, healthcare, and social welfare services that are essential to many Philadelphians. Philadelphia will lose $21,000 of Federal funding for every person that is not counted. The champions also learned how and where to apply for Census jobs and grants to support their awareness campaigns.
A consensus reached at the end of the training is that we must strive to organize, raise awareness, and develop organizational and leadership capacities among African and Caribbean immigrants.
Issa Koroma (student Intern, West Chester University), Papa Faye, Community Organizer & Eric Edi contributed to this report.