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Akron Community Groups Continue Push For An Accurate 2020 Census Count

photo of Akron 2020 census forum
Jacqueline Jackson (center) -- an alum of Delta Theta Sigma sorority -- says outreach to under-counted communities is crucial in getting an accurate census count in Northeast Ohio. She says her group may even reach help canvas door-to-door next year.

Community groups in Akron are working to make sure people participate in next year’s U.S. census so there is an accurate count of the city’s residents.

Representatives from the census office covering Summit, Portage and Geauga Counties were at Greater Holy Trinity Church in Akron this past weekend to talk about the importance of filling out census forms. They answered questions on topics ranging from how federal funding is tied to population, to whether census takers will ask for social security numbers – which they won’t.

The census bureau’s Kent Camino says in some parts of Akron, more than 30 percent of the estimated population did not respond to the 2010 census. He’s working with community organizations to find ways to reach out to people in those areas.

“Non-English speakers. Those who are living in low income housing. Or low-income populations [and] definitely children under the age of five.”

Camino says the International Institute, ASIA, Inc. and black sororities in Akron are some of the groups he’s working with since they’re often “trusted voices” in their communities. He adds that census takers will often be assigned near their home zip codes so they are more familiar with -- and accepted by -- local residents.

The Akron Urban League wants people to know that the census is not that different from voting. Both are important to ensure the city’s residents are accurately represented on the state and federal levels.

Jacqueline Jackson is social action director for – and an alumni of -- the sorority Delta Theta Sigma. They have branches at Kent Stateand the University of Akron, and she says it’s crucial to get an accurate count since so much funding – for things like schools and social programs -- is tied to population.

“Doing better than your forefathers or mothers. That’s a pillar – or, a moral value – that’s strongly taught in the African-American community. And we really need our children to dream again. I believe this could help restore that.”

Census takers will be going door-to-door starting in April to reach out to people who have not yet filled out their census forms.

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.