By: Emma Wheeler | WCTV Eyewitness News
January 13, 2020
VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) -- The U.S. Census will begin in just a few months, which is why Valdosta State University is working to make sure that every single person participates, especially in hard-to-count populations.
They say every person that takes part is potentially worth thousands of dollars to their community.
VSU is printing 65,000 posters to be distributed among 41 counties. The posters are catered to different community needs, like targeting families, or written in Spanish. The posters are meant to raise awareness of why it's important to take part in the census.
Officials say who participates in the census will determine federal funding for a lot of local programs for the next ten years.
The university is focusing on hard to count populations, like low income communities or those with limited online resources.
Organizers say as families are still recovering from Hurricane Michael, some are still displaced, and could be hard to count.
They say students and young people are also historically hard to count.
"If you're in the dorms, they're going to be counted automatically, but your students that live in off campus housing may or may not participate," said Darrell Moore, the Executive Director for VSU's Center for Regoinal Impact. "If you have four roommates, one gets it and throws it away, you potentially lost $100,000 in federal funding for your community."
Moore recently had the opportunity to testify during a congressional hearing to bring attention to some of the strategies used in Georgia to increase participation.
This year, people will have the option to answer questions by phone or online.
All information is confidential. Community leaders also want citizens to be aware of potential scammers.
"We want citizens to know if they start getting texts or email that appears to be from the census, that they need to report that to local law enforcement. After any large initiative, there's always a fear of scams, so we want to make sure that no one is taken advantage of," said Paige Dukes, Public Information Officer for Lowndes County.
The university will be working to raise awareness in 41 counties around the area. They're also working on getting things like tables and banners set up at local events and festivals to help raise awareness for participation.
The U.S. Census Bureau will be hiring 500,000 temporary and part-time jobs nationally, including in our area.
The census will begin in March. Until then, community leaders are focusing on education and awareness.
The deadline to be counted is July 31.