Bryan-College Station residents can learn about the 2020 census and how to involve fellow community members in efforts to increase response rates at a training seminar next week.
Tuesday’s Census Bureau sponsored event is meant to train members of the Bryan-College Station Complete Count Committee. The organization will have lead staff members and elected officials from the Bryan/College Station Metropolitan Planning Organization, the cities of Bryan and College Station and local colleges; community members are also encouraged to join. Members will help the committee create messages to encourage participation, develop promotional materials, speak at community events and reach out to local media.
The event will run from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Brazos County Council of Governments on East 29th Street in Bryan. Training will be led by Census Bureau officials. There is no limit to how many people can be on the committee.
“We welcome citizens who want to be on the Complete Count Committee to attend,” said BCSMPO Executive Director Daniel Rudge. “If you’re interested in the census, we’d love to have you.”
After the training seminar, the committee will be formally recognized and become responsible for answering any questions that people from the Brazos Valley call in to ask.
While the official census date isn’t until April 1, Rudge said it is critical to start planning now since $600 billion worth of federal funds are distributed based on census data each year. College Station senior planner Lauren Hovde said federally funded programs that are affected include public schools, hospitals and road development.
Additionally, if the B-CS metro area exceeds 200,000 residents it will become a Transportation Management Area. The classification could mean the Brazos County would gain an additional $4 million annually for transportation projects.
While Brazos County’s population was more than 194,000 in the 2010 census, with the urban area adding up 171,345, Rudge said the Blinn College and Texas A&M University student body was undercounted by about 20 percent.
Rudge said students frequently fill out the census information incorrectly or do not file at all. Anyone who is living on campus is automatically counted in the census through information that the university shares with the bureau. However, students living off campus must fill out their form noting where they live on April 1, not their hometown.
Since there are large areas in B-CS that do not file, canvassers will go out to knock on doors and try to get data starting in June. By this time, most students have already left for the summer and cannot fill out the form.
Rudge said he is collaborating with A&M’s student leaders who can help inform their peers about the census.
“We are looking forward to working with the city to make sure students know about the census and how to fill out the census form,” A&M Student Body President Mikey Jaillet said.
This year, the Census Bureau is also implementing new ways to fill out the form to increase response. Now, each form will have a preassigned ID code that can help people if they choose to fill it out online or call in with their responses.