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Census Solutions Workshop


Census partners from across sectors and industries
are coming together to help spread the word for an accurate count in the 2020 Census – the
Census Bureau simply can’t do it alone. That’s why we’re engaging communities
across the nation in a creative and innovative way, a model we’re calling…the Census
Solutions Workshop! These workshops provide an interactive, informal
space to brainstorm using design thinking methodology to discuss and create new solutions
around serious community challenges, like reaching “hard to count” populations and
distributing resources for underserved communities. Now that the Census Bureau has proven the
model, we’re giving our partners the tools to do it on their own. Here’s how: First, set the stage: gather a small team,
maybe three to five people, to co-host the event. Welcome your guests. Hold an “ice breaker” activity where people
introduce themselves. Present a brief “Census 101” outlining
why participation and outreach are critical for 2020. Next, it’s time to “define success.” The Census needs to count everyone, once,
only once and in the right place. In these workshops, participants are asked
to come up with specific ways to reach the communities they serve. They know their communities best so they understand
the challenges of what have traditionally been “hard to count.” Lead a visioning exercise in which people
imagine what a successful Census participation effort would mean for their constituents. Share common goals and visions. Vote on the best solutions. And of course, the purpose of the workshop
is to generate great ideas! Set the stage for creative thinking! Identify a problem or series of problems,
and create challenge statements that resonate with the audience, the community and the organizations
represented in the room, which all have a common interest and share a commitment to
a complete and accurate count. No idea is too crazy! You want your guests to feel like any idea
is a good idea and innovation can come from anywhere and anyone, in all sorts of forms. Many won’t self-identify as a “creative
person,” so helping them believe they can be is a key part of the workshop. Make it fun, energetic, and doable. Form small groups and pick an idea to flesh
out. Create a story board, and think about how
the idea could manifest in reality:  what would it take? What barriers may they face? What partners may they enlist? Thinking through the story helps bring out
some of the blind spots of the initial idea. Each group develops a pitch to present to
other participants. Now, it’s time to share and discuss! Groups reconvene to pitch their ideas. Concepts are explained through drawings, diagrams,
or even by acting them out! Participants ask questions and consider ways
that the organization they represent could help realize these ideas. Finally, the workshop yields a new network
of partners with a strong commitment to continue! Participants take the next steps to further
develop and implement their ideas. They share what they learned and what they
can do to keep pushing these ideas forward. They can also make contributions more broadly
around supporting the Census. We hope this gives you a sense of what to
expect when you run your own workshop. To get your copy of the Census Solutions Workshop
toolkit and to learn more about becoming a partner with the U.S. Census Bureau visit
census.gov/partners.

Bernard Jenkins

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