Jehovahnie Saint Rose ’22 Encourages Undercounted Communities to Participate in the 2020 Census

Jehovahnie Saint Rose ’22 Encourages Undercounted Communities to Participate in the 2020 Census

Jehovahnie Saint Rose ’22 Encourages Undercounted Communities to Participate in the 2020 Census

Jehovahnie Saint Rose ’22, a John Jay honors student and Philosophy major from Baldwin, New York, knows that by filling out the 2020 Census underrepresented communities can make a powerful impact on their future. Over the last few months, as a member of the CUNY Census Corps, she’s helped provide essential Census information to historically undercounted communities across New York. “I helped at a Census teach-in session in Harlem and I was surprised to see that so many in attendance had heard of the Census, but they didn’t really know its purpose,” says Saint Rose. “It’s important for me to make sure every New Yorker, regardless of their immigration status or age, is counted because the 2020 Census count will help shape every community in our state for the next 10 years. Filling out the Census impacts employment opportunities, health care, infrastructure, school lunch programs, and education,” she says. “When we fill out the Census, and count everyone living in our communities, we help create opportunities and bring more resources to our communities.”

“It’s important for me to make sure every New Yorker, regardless of their immigration status or age, is counted because the 2020 Census count will help shape every community in our state for the next 10 years.” —Jehovahnie Saint Rose

Ensuring Immigrants and Children are Counted
Looking at the data from the 2010 Census, where only 64 percent of New Yorkers self-responded, Saint Rose noted that the communities that often went undercounted were those where low-income, people of color, and immigrants live. “Being an immigrant myself, I understand the fears many immigrants have when it comes to the Census. There’s a fear that the Census might lead to discrimination, detention, or deportation” says Saint Rose, acknowledging that a distrust of the government systems in place, leads to undercounts. “I find that because I share a common experience with other immigrants, there’s a greater level of trust in me. So when I encourage them to fill out the Census, when I assure them that they will not be harmed because they filled the Census form out, they’re more likely to do so.” Saint Rose was also surprised to learn that young children under the age of five are among the most undercounted. “It’s important to make sure children are counted in the Census,” she says. “The data from the Census leads to funding that impacts child health care programs, food assistance programs, and educational programs that are critical for the health, well-being, and education of the children in our state.”   

“Filling out the Census today, will help New York be better prepared and equipped to fight a future pandemic tomorrow.” —Jehovahnie Saint Rose

Encouraging Census Self Response
With current social distancing mandates in place, Saint Rose is using social media to get the word out on the Census, encouraging family, friends, and community members to self-respond online, via phone call, or by mailing in their form. “I’ve increased my posts on my social media a ton. I want to make sure that viewers of my posts know of the benefits that come with filling out the Census and getting counted,” she says, noting that she’s using TikTok to help get her message across in fun, creative ways. Saint Rose is also using what’s currently happening in the world to show how the Census count impacts a community’s capabilities to handle a crisis. “The data collected by the Census equals funding for our communities. That funding goes to our first-responder agencies, to hospitals, and medical centers. It enables them to acquire the equipment and gear they need to save lives and protect their own,” says Saint Rose. “Filling out the Census today will help New York be better prepared and equipped to fight a future pandemic tomorrow. So please, fill out your Census form today. It takes less than 10 minutes to ensure a better future for your community for the next 10 years.”