CACC census

Submitted / The Outlook Central Alabama Community College is helping promote the 2020 census along with the Alabama Community College System.

The Census happens only once a decade and Central Alabama Community College is making sure the area gets counted fairly. Alabama Community College System (ACCS) is partnering with the Alabama Census to get people to complete the U.S. Census.

With 130 community colleges across the state, students and faculty can be essential to the Census.

“We have such a huge footprint in the state,” CACC public relations director Brett Pritchard said. “We reach a lot of people. We have over 174,000 students combined in the system. When you add that up with almost 9,000 employees, that’s a lot of people in the state that have a big impact.”

The ACCS started working with the Census Jan. 29 and received an $800,000 Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs grant to establish centers to fill out the Census on community college campuses, including CACC. 

“We are not only committed to ensuring that every student and employee at our colleges is counted — community is in our name and it’s important that we help educate Alabamians in communities across the state on the importance of the Census and provide avenues that assist with completion,” ACSS chancellor Jimmy H. Baker said in a press release.

CACC is also planning on holding an event in March to get locals excited and is going to give students Census taker information, such as pamphlets on going around asking people to complete the form, if they’re interested, according to Pritchard.

“We want the students to be involved; we think that’s very important,” Pritchard said. “A lot of times you have to have boots on the ground. You have to have grassroots campaigns where people are actually able to go out and reach some of the more rural areas to get counted.”

The Census accounts for state funding and members of the U.S. House of Representatives, which could lose one or two seats and thus affect funding, according to Pritchard. 

According to Alabama Census, “more than $13 billion was allocated to Alabama in 2016 from 55 programs that are guided in some part by data derived from the Census.” Those programs include Pell Grants and student loans and Community Development Block Grants.

“It’s important to each and every one of our colleges to have everyone be counted because we want that pot to stay at least the same if not grow from that allocation from the federal government,” Pritchard said.

The community college system’s goal is to stress the importance to fill out the Census because it takes only about six minutes to complete. Pritchard said the state’s goal is 80% participation, which is what CACC is trying to help get.

According to the Alabama Census, the state’s 2010 Census participation rate was 72% while Tallapoosa County’s was 66%. Alexander City’s 2010 participation rate was 74%; Dadeville’s was 70%; New Site’s was 78%; and Camp Hill’s was 71%. 

“Don’t throw it in the trash; don’t snub it because everything is dependent on our numbers,” Pritchard said. 

Residents are encouraged to complete the Census by March 13, according to the press relapse. April 1 is Alabama Census Day, which encourages citizens to fill it out by that month, and it can be completed online or on the phone.

“(The Census) is trying to move away from (paper forms) because obviously they’re trying to be more efficient and trying to do it a little bit faster,” Pritchard said.

Pritchard said CACC likes getting involved in state initiatives such as Clean Home Alabama, which was a statewide community college effort to hold cleanup projects Nov. 1 through 11 last year.

“We’re trying to be even more community oriented than we already are,” Pritchard said.