Census 2020

Dominican is collaborating with community partners throughout Marin County on a unique, hands-on initiative that integrates projects related to Census 2020 into more than a dozen courses. The goal of the “Everyone Counts: Census 2020” university-wide community engagement theme is to support an accurate census count by reaching the county’s hard-to-count communities and populations.

“Everyone Counts: Census 2020” was developed in partnership with Canal Alliance, a non-profit champion of immigrants. The census projects are being implemented in collaboration with the Marin Complete Count Committee and local non-profit organizations and government agencies.

“Dominican has set the stage for deeper participation in Census 2020 efforts to ensure that all people are counted in Marin County,” said Stephanie McNally, Advocacy and Policy Manager for Canal Alliance and the project lead for Marin County 2020 Census outreach.

In fall 2019 and spring 2020, Census 2020 projects will be integrated into a variety of courses, including occupational therapy, psychology, education, history, anthropology, and art. The work will involve more than 200 students throughout the academic year. Simultaneously, trusted messenger trainings and enumerator application workshops are being offered to all students and university employees.

“This initiative builds on effective practices in community engagement and the desire of faculty, staff, and students to deepen Dominican’s civic role in Marin,” says Julia van der Ryn, Executive Director of Dominican’s Center for Community Engagement.

“The census will have major implications for the allocation of federal resources and political representation, but more importantly it is about democratic values that promote dignity and opportunity for everyone. Full participation by all county residents is critical because census data is the one true picture we get of who lives in this country,” she added.

Due to limited fluency in English, housing instability, and poverty, some communities in Marin County—including Marin City, San Rafael’s Canal neighborhood, West Marin, and parts of Novato—are among the hardest to count in the U.S. The county’s hard-to-count populations also include the elderly and adults living with disabilities.

Courses integrating #MarinCensus2020 projects include:

  • Cultural Anthropology: Students will analyze the Census website using a Community Context Worksheet to learn more about the community. Each student will interview a member at their community partner organization about his or her knowledge of the census and create a transcript that can be used by community partners for outreach. (Partners: Canal Alliance, Health Hubs, RotaCare, Ritter Center, Coleman Elementary School.)
  • Occupational Therapy: OT students will prepare materials focused on training and resources for the drivers/meal delivery volunteers working for San Rafael’s Whistlestop. Whistlestop promotes the independence, well-being and quality of life for older adults and people living with disabilities in Marin County. The objective is to increase the quality of the communication and social interactions between the volunteers and the program members. This will better position the drivers to serve as trusted messengers during the census.
  • Community-Engaged Art: In partnership with Marin City’s Performing Stars, about 20 Dominican students are working with students from Marin City’s Bayside MLK School. Together they are creating public artwork (including lamp-post banners) that visualize the values, stories, and history that highlight why “Marin City Counts.” (Community partner: Performing Stars of Marin.)
  • Service-Learning classes across the curriculum: Students will focus on collecting and designing messaging and outreach recommendations that trusted messengers can use to increase participation among the HTC population. Students will utilize participatory observation, interviews, and focus groups to develop messaging and outreach strategies. The students will follow interview protocol that is being designed by Dominican in partnership with Canal Alliance. This will provide a substantial pool of information that will inform messaging and outreach at the grassroots organizing level, primarily in the Latinx community.
  • Political Science: Political science majors will research why the census matters and will develop a census curriculum module that will be presented to participating classes on campus, as well as to off-campus groups as requested.
  • Education: Dominican students will create and implement lesson plans in K-8 classes to teach students about the census, what it is, why it is important, and how to talk to their friends and families about it.

Dominican and Canal Alliance have developed trusted messenger trainings at which students will gain knowledge about census process, confidentiality of data, and community benefits. They will also learn who is at risk of not being counted, and practice a shared, positive message through scenarios and role play. These trainings are being used as a template to be replicated by agencies throughout Marin.


Media Contact: Sarah Gardner, 415-485-3239, sarah.gardner@dominican.edu


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