Houston and Harris County created a joint CCC for the 2020 Census and later added Houston in Action to help with outreach. Both municipalities provided funding for the project.
Houston in Action coordinated the CCC’S sub-committees and managed distributing grants across the community for Census outreach. As a leading voice in community organizing and civic engagement in Houston, the organization was uniquely skilled in organizing local government, stakeholders, and community members to activate trusted messengers in HTC communities. Additionally, the group shared data, strategy, and best practices with the CCC and sub-grantees for a coordinated and unified Census campaign.
The CCC hired a consulting firm, Lopez Negrete Communications, to help identify HTC communities, conduct focus groups, host train-the-trainer events, and develop Census messaging and materials. The CCC also worked with Outreach Strategists to distribute Census texts to the community.
Traditionally undercounted groups participated in the Census focus groups and provided diverse insights on what messaging would resonate with their communities. The most commonly spoken languages across Harris County included English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese, French, and Arabic, so Census materials were created in multiple languages.
Ethnic leaders in the area that joined the Census outreach effort included Mi Familia Vota (serving the Hispanic community), Emgage (serving the Muslim-American community), Change Happens! (serving the African-American community), Korean Central Presbyterian Church (serving the Korean-American community), and more.
Utilizing trusted voices was a highly effective strategy across many HTC communities. This included pastors, community leaders, local nonprofits, civic engagement groups, teachers, consulate offices (i.e. Mexico and Guatemala), social media influencers, and elected officials. Trusted messengers providing information to their constituents on a consistent basis motivated residents in HTC communities to complete their questionnaires.
The CCC also worked with the U.S. Census Bureau to implement a data-driven approach to clearly identify and target low Census self-response areas. Outreach events included Census car caravans, murals, food distributions, and bridging the digital divide by providing technology and meals to encourage residents to complete their Census online. During the pandemic, messaging around food security, healthcare, and children’s education were well-received.