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Newport City Hall.

The following story was written by Tom Shevlin, Communications Officer for the City of Newport.

As the 2020 Census gets underway, the City of Newport is taking steps to ensure that this year’s demographic count is the most accurate possible.

As one of Rhode Island’s identified “Hard to Reach Communities” in the 2010 Census, the City of Newport applied for — and was awarded — $13,000 from the Rhode Island Census 2020 Fund to participate in the Complete Count Committee, a state-wide initiative to ensure an accurate Census count. 

Census numbers generate the appropriate levels for Federal funding of schools and social services as well as Congressional representation.  It is also critical in setting state and local policy and priorities.

Though Newport’s demographics have not changed dramatically in the last decade, school projections have shown steady growth among the City’s Spanish speaking community. 

The grant award will allow the City’s Department of Planning & Economic to work in partnership with Conexión Latina Newport along with other community advocacy groups to develop and implement an outreach campaign to reach populations that could otherwise be left under-represented, especially within the Spanish-speaking community.

The funding, coordinated through the Rhode Island Foundation, will provide for four events at various community centers around the City to inform the public of the importance of the Census, address concerns, and incentivize previously hard to count residents to fill out the Census. 

Conexión Latina Newport, a group formed to serve the Spanish-speaking community in the area, has been working with City staff to prepare the grant application and oversee the events, which will include food, childcare, gift cards and raffle baskets. 

Though several smaller events have already occurred to introduce the community to the Census, the award of the grant brings the effort forward with significant funding. Residents can enjoy a free meal, and meet Census staff and local volunteers to get assistance filling out the form, either on their own smart phones or on technology provided by the Census or the CLN team. 

These events will also provide information on how to become a Census Enumerator, who serve as part-time staff canvassing neighborhoods in the final stages of the process to help those who have not yet been counted.  Spanish speaking Enumerators are particularly needed. 

Incentives for attendance to all events, beyond a good meal and good company, would include $10 gift cards for all attendees as well as a raffle with a $100 gift card and Census and Newport oriented merchandise. 

The Census website will go live in multiple languages in March, and services will also be provided by phone and through the Census Enumerators.  The Census ends on July 31.