Census Highlight: Rio Grande City Public Library and Norma Gomez Fultz

Amidst a global pandemic, Norma Gomez Fultz at the Rio Grande City Public Library (RGCPL) has continued to push for a complete count in the 2020 census. With the census only 79 days away, we want to acknowledge how RGCPL has embraced the challenges that have resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic and share our interview with Gomez Fultz. In this interview, Norma shares with us some of the work that RGCPL is doing around the 2020 census.

Tell us about yourself and how your journey at the Rio Grande Public Library.
My name is Norma Gomez Fultz, and I was born and raised in Rio Grande City. I left for a brief period, at the time there was not a public library is our county. In 1990, Starr County Public Library was established, and I became the first Assistant Library Director. In 2005, the City of Rio Grande City took over the county’s public library, which is when I became the Director of the Rio Grande City Public Library. We have grown from having to stamp due date slips to being a fully automated library.

I Count, Rio Grande City Billboard.
Rio Grande City Public Library was able to secure a local billboard at the center of town to promote the 2020 Census.

Why completing the 2020 census is essential to Rio Grande City and Starr County?
Rio Grande City is in Starr County. This area has a large immigrant population, both documented and undocumented, from Mexico as well as Central America and South America. Historically, our region has been undercounted, so informing and encouraging everyone in our area, they will understand why the census matters. It will help to determine the federal resources we are eligible to receive for Rio Grande City schools, roads, housing, hospitals, public safety, and other vital programs. Additionally, participation in the 2020 Census will determine how many members of Congress we can elect to fight for our interests and help to guide our state to draw voting districts.

How has COVID-19 impacted your library programming and outreach, especially around the census?
When we took the lead in the Census 2020 efforts, we had a great marketing plan and timeline. We were able to hire three people to form our Census team. Included in our programing were neighborhood block parties and advertisements on local billboards and local radio live remotes. Due to COVID-19, our efforts have shifted. We are now going to food distribution sites to pass out information. We also have partnered with Rio Grande City police, fire, public works, and other departments that will participate in some of our census programmings.

Partnerships are essential to the success of any library programming and outreach services, can you tell us about any partnerships that your library has developed to get the word out about the 2020 census? Were these partnerships your library had in place or were they recently developed?
We are on the Rio Grande City Complete Count Committee, which is comprised of a broad spectrum of government and community leaders from advocacy, education, business, healthcare, faith-based, and elected officials. We also on the Starr County Complete Count Committee, comprised of local mayors, city and county officials, education, healthcare, and others. We have formed some new partnerships and strengthened others. For example, the County of Starr did not receive a Census 2020 grant, so we have shared resources with them to distribute throughout the county.

Despite the challenges the Rio Grande City Public Library has currently been facing, can you share some things that your library has done to promote the 2020 census?
We have promoted the census on local radio and television stations, newspapers, and billboards. We have purchased marketing incentives such as pens, pencils, hand-held fans, bracelets, and koozies. We also have passed out fliers in English and Spanish and created a Spanish Informational Census Video (video will open in a new tab).

Looking forward, are there any upcoming events, programs, or services that you are excited to share with us?
We are organizing Census Reminder Parades throughout varies Rio Grande City neighborhoods. Joining us on these parades will be the Rio Grande City police, fire, public works, water, library, EDC, and other departments. We will also have a RGCCISD school bus, a Starr County Hospital vehicle, a Metro bus, the Sheriff’s Department, and more. We have added a dedicated Census Hotline number for anyone to call with questions or concerns and we will be purchasing hot spots, so our Census team is not limited to the library or city hall.

RGC Census Parade Coming to a Neighborhood Near You!

RGC CENSUS 2020 NEIGHBORHOOD PARADE: LET’S MAKE SOME NOISE!Let’s get everyone counted! Every year, billions of dollars in federal funding go to hospitals, fire departments, schools, roads, and other resources based on census data. We want to show you what this looks like for Rio Grande City! This parade features a lineup of vehicles from different local agencies and city departments that would be supported through census funding which directly goes back into expanding services for our community.The parade starts at 2:20PM EVERY FRIDAY!TOMORROW’S PARADE will start at Alberto & Celia Barrera Elementary (1400 N. Lopez St.)We understand it’s been a difficult few months for everyone, especially the kids, having to stay home this summer due to the coronavirus so we wanted to make some noise and have some fun! We hope to see you there! It's also a great time to teach our kids how the Census helps our local community!Rio Grande City CENSUS Helpline: 956-317-1585Fill out the CENSUS online: https://2020census.gov/RGC Economic Development Corporation Rio Grande City Public Library

Posted by City of Rio Grande City, Texas on Thursday, July 30, 2020
Rio Grande City’s 2020 Census Neighborhood Parade occurs every Friday at 2:20 PM. The parade includes a lineup of vehicles from different local agencies and city departments that would be supported through census funding which directly goes back into expanding services for our community.

Thank you, Norma, for taking the time to participate in this interview and for the incredible work that the Rio Grande City Public Library is doing.

The last day to complete the census is on October 31, 2020, so there is still time to ensure a complete and accurate count. You can stay up to date with a map of self-response rates across the U.S. and Texas by using the links below:

For more information and resources, visit our TSLAC Census 2020 webpage at www.tsl.texas.gov/ldn/census2020 or 2020census.gov. If you have any questions related to the 2020 Census, contact Laura Tadena, Inclusive Services Consultant, at ltadena@tsl.texas.gov.

It is not too late to complete the 2020 census!

Texas’ 2020 U.S. Census completion percentage is 53.5% as of today, which is behind the national average of 59%. The 2020 census will have a major impact on our communities, and the data that is collected will be used to fund essential services, including early childhood education, free and low-cost school meals, highways, and other critical programs that support our communities. It only takes ten minutes to make a difference, so let us work together to ensure that Texans receives a fair count.

2020 Census and COVID-19

Despite the many challenges that we are facing due to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), the 2020 census is still underway. The Census Bureau has adjusted the 2020 census operational timeline, which will extend the self-response phase from July 31 to October 31, 2020. Additionally, the Census Bureau also announced that some Area Census Offices (ACO) will resume 2020 census field operations in select locations. For up to date information and press releases related to the 2020 census, visit the Census Bureau’s Newsroom.

One of the many challenges facing libraries across Texas is how to engage with the communities that we serve while following the recommended guidelines from our governing authorities on how to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. We understand that every library is facing different circumstances, and how we respond to our communities is going to be case by case. Knowing that, here are a few resources that you can use to help ensure an accurate count of the 2020 census while staying safe!

  • Enhance your social media presence. Keep your website up to date and connect your users with census information. If you are looking for census social media ideas, follow #2020Census and #CountOnLibraries on Twitter. Many census groups are posting resources that your library can safely retweet from inside your library or home!
  • Utilize your curbside. If your library is providing curbside services, consider including census informational material or creating census family kits. You can download Dr. Seuss coloring and activity pages for the children in your community and include them in the kits or check out this list of 2020 census activities for pre-K through 12th graders.
  • Host a virtual event. Some libraries and census groups are hosting Facebook Live parties where they are answering questions and connecting attendees with resources. This could also be an excellent opportunity to invite local leaders to talk about the importance of the 2020 census. Visit the ALA 2020 census webpage for sample templates that can be adapted for virtual events.
  • Send a mailbox greeting. Send postcards or letters to your community and say hello while providing a friendly reminder to complete the 2020 census. You can focus your efforts by learning about your community’s response rates using these tools:
  • Pick up the phone. It is always nice to hear a friendly voice! Consider making calls to your senior communities, check-in with them, and remind them of the importance of the #2020Census! The senior population is growing, and an accurate count can help ensure our state has the federal funding for programs and services that support our special populations like our seniors.
  • Rethink your parking lot. Consider using your outside space as a place for patrons to complete the 2020 census. For example, reserve parking spots specifically for individuals to complete the census. Individuals can park in these spots to connect to the wifi or to ask questions about completing the forms. Flyers with instructions can also be provided on how to complete the census using the phone. Again, depending on your local governing authority, we encourage that libraries adhere to the social distancing guidelines and recommended safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Here is a resource that provides helpful technology privacy tips for libraries to consider when setting up kiosks and assisting patrons with filling out the census (see pages 82-92) and be sure to with a local IT staff member or knowledgeable volunteer to implement these to keep your patron’s data safe.
  • Get the word out using signs and banners. Consider making signs for your communities and work with local partners to co-locate signs around town to encourage individuals to complete the census.
  • Use your resources. Connect with your local news and radio stations to promote the census. Invite elected officials to talk about the value of completing the census and help get the word out about the 2020 census while also promoting any upcoming programming your library is offering.

There is still plenty of time to complete the 2020 census, so let us work together to make sure that everyone counts!

For more information and resources, visit our TSLAC Census 2020 webpage at www.tsl.texas.gov/ldn/census2020.

It’s Census Day!

The 2020 Census is underway, and in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Census Bureau has adjusted the following operational dates. Here are a few quick facts about the changes:

  • The census self-response deadline has been extended until August 14, 2020.
  • Field operations have been delayed an additional two weeks until April 15.
  • The Census Bureau is still on track to deliver the Census on time to the President on December 31.

For the full list of operational changes to the 2020 Census, please view the U.S. Census Bureau: 2020 Census Operational Adjustments Due to COVID-19 fact sheet.

So how is Texas doing?

As of today, only 29.7% of households in Texas have responded to the 2020 Census by phone, mail, or online. The census data is critical to our basis of democracy and is used to make informed decisions that affect our everyday lives. Census data is used to ensure that all our Texas communities are treated fairly and that funds are appropriately allocated according to population needs. In times like these, census data is even more essential because our public health experts, government officials, and first responders rely on population data to make critical decisions.

Find out how your communities are responding to the 2020 Census

You can stay up to date with a map of self-response rates across the U.S. and Texas by using the links below:

  • U.S. Census Bureau Self-Response by State. This map allows users to view the self-response rate from households that responded to the 2020 Census online, by mail, or by phone, and compare the state’s average to the national self-response average.
  • City University of New York (CUNY) Center for Urban Research. Use this map to follow that state’s census progress and compare the progress with the census from 2000 and 2010. The map provides the feature to search the self-response rates by address, ZIP Code, landmark, county, state, or legislative district.

Make it Count!

There is still time to complete the 2020 Census!

If you have any questions related to the 2020 Census, contact Laura Tadena, Inclusive Services Consultant.

New Census Data Dissemination Platform

Anyone who uses US Census data needs to be aware that big changes have occurred in the way the Census distributes information.  This is timely:  the new platform is up and running prior to the input of the decennial US Census.

American Fact Finder, the primary statistics and information search engine for the US Census, is being retired after 20 years.  It will remain as an archive until March 31, 2020, when data.census.gov takes over that function.  This site centralizes data access to allow for a more rapid response to customers.

In addition, Census has created quick tutorials and webinars, called Data Gems, to not only introduce this new platform, but show how to use it for a variety of applications:

….and so much more!

This site is still a work in progress and seeking customer feedback.  They are developing new functionalities in searching and printing options based on this information.

Data.Census.Gov offers a wealth of information that can be used for supporting grant proposals, municipal development planning, planning for library services, or any presentation which needs demographic or economic data.  Check it out soon!

Check your mail, Texas! The 2020 Census is waiting for you.

Your 2020 Census invitation is in the mail, Texas! This week, official invitations to participate in the 2020 Census will be sent out to households. Here are a few things to help you prepare for the 2020 Census:

TSLAC has a Census 2020 webpage. Visit the TSLAC Census 2020 webpage to find up to date information, resources, and valuable tools about the 2020 Census.

What is the Census? The Census is a snapshot of who is residing in the nation. It is a short questionnaire (view sample 2020 Census questionnaire) that asks basic information about your household and the people who live in it. The Census is mandated by the Constitution and conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau every ten years. 

Who is counted? Everyone! The 2020 Census will count everyone living in the United States and five U.S. Territories, regardless of citizenship. 

How do I respond to the Census? There are three ways to participate in the 2020 Census. 

  • Respond Online. For the first time, you will be able to complete your Census online. Each household will receive a letter (view sample 2020 Census letter) with a unique Census ID and web address that they will use to respond to the questionnaire. You can complete the online questionnaire in the following languages: English, Spanish, Chinese (Simplified), Vietnamese, Korean, Russian, Arabic, Tagalog, Polish, French, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, and Japanese.
  • Respond by Phone. You have the option of completing the questionnaire by phone. Phone support is offered in English and 12 non-English languages (view 2020 Census Non-English Language Support).  To begin, call 844-330-2020.
  • Respond by Mail. You can respond to the Census using a paper questionnaire sent to your home. You will be asked to fill out the questionnaire using blue or black ink and are encouraged not to use a pencil. Mail it back in the postage-paid return envelope. If you have trouble answering a question, call 1-888-262-5935 or email nscg@census.gov.

When do I respond to the Census? In Texas, the 2020 Census kicks off March 12, 2020. Here are some important dates regarding the 2020 Census: 

  • March 12-April 30: Self-Response Operation. The Census Bureau will kick off their Self-Response Operation beginning with a printed invitation mailed to every household encouraging individuals to complete the 2020 Census online or by phone. Every week after that print reminders will be sent to household that have not responded. The final reminder mailer going out on the fifth week, April 20-27.
  • May 13- July 31: Non-Response Follow-Up. Census enumerators will begin following up with households that have not yet responded to the 2020 Census. If no one answers when the enumerator visits, they will leave a “Notice of Visit” that includes an online response code to encourage households to self-respond. Enumerators will attempt a total of six visits during the Non-Response Follow-Up Operation.
  • July 31: Last day to respond to 2020 Census. This is the last day for households to self-respond. Individuals can respond on July 31, 2020 online, by phone or by mail.

Why is it important? Census Data is important to our democracy! This data will determine the apportionment of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and how district lines are drawn at all levels of government. The data will also guide the allocation of more than $800 billion dollars in federal funding going to programs that are essential to building prosperous communities. Including these top Federal Programs:

  • Medicaid
  • Supplemental Nutritional Assistance (SNAP)
  • Medicare
  • Highway Planning and Construction
  • Section 8 Housing
  • Title 1 Grants to Local Education Agencies
  • National School Lunch Program
  • Special Education Grants
  • State Children’s Health Insurance (CHIP)
  • Head Start / Early Head Start

When our communities are inaccurately counted, our communities are underfunded and underserved. We only get one chance every ten years to achieve a full count, so let’s work together to ensure an accurate count of Texas!

For more information about the 2020 Census, visit www.2020census.gov or the TSLAC Census 2020 webpage. For questions about information on this post, email Laura Tadena, Inclusive Services Consultant.

#CountOnLibraries US Census 2020, a partnership with the American Library Association.
Share your library’s Census story with us! Follow @TSLAC on social media and share your story by using the hashtag #CountOnLibraries and #2020Census.