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EVENT RECAP  |  May 2023

Texas Roundtable Discussions with U.S. Census Bureau Director, Dr. Robert Santos

In May, the Texas Census Institute hosted Roundtable discussions in Austin and Houston with Director Santos to address the challenges of achieving a complete count in Texas and how accurate census data shape successful communities.

Austin Event: May 22, 2023

In Partnership with the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life

Speakers & Panelists

Mark Strama, Director, Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life  – LinkedIn

Dr. Robert Santos, Director, U.S. Census Bureau LinkedIn

Honorable Lonnie Hunt, Executive Director, Deep East Texas Council of GovernmentsLinkedIn

A.J. Rodriguez, Executive Vice President, Texas 2036LinkedIn

Lisa Madry, Vice President of Community Engagement, Episcopal Health FoundationLinkedIn

The Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life recently hosted a census event in Austin, facilitated by the Texas Census Institute and featuring U.S. Census Bureau Director Dr. Robert Santos and a panel of experts. The event underscored the significance of census data in community development and spurred a commitment to utilize accurate data for a better-informed and more united Texas. Here are the main points discussed:

Key Takeaways:

Delivery methods matter.  A particularly “eye opening” revelation was the existence of underserved areas, particularly in rural Texas, where census information doesn’t reach households that use a PO Box. This underscores the need for different data collection strategies.
Civic engagement drives participation.  The event demonstrated that active community engagement leads to higher census response rates. This connection between civic involvement and accurate census data emphasizes the role of informed citizens in effective governance.
Diverse engagement leads to accuracy.  Discussions emphasized the importance of engaging underrepresented communities to drive more accurate response rates for the American Community Survey and Decennial Census.
Obtaining better data requires collaboration.  Census Bureau Director Rob Santos summed up the event’s spirit with his quote: “I learned that it takes a community as a whole to maintain a fully functioning and successful Federal statistical agency.”  

Event photos:

Houston Event: May 24, 2023

In Partnership with Houston Endowment and Houston in Action

Hosts and Presenters

Dr. Robert Santos, Director, U.S. Census BureauLinkedIn

Ann Stern, President & CEO, Houston EndowmentLinkedIn

Frances Valdez, Executive Director, Houston in ActionLinkedIn

Meghna Goswami, Program Director, Civic Engagement, Houston EndowmentLinkedIn

Gislaine Williams, Program Officer, Houston EndowmentLinkedIn

Ana Mac Naught, Director of Coordination, Houston in ActionLinkedIn

Juan Oquendo, Director of Policy and Elections, Houston in ActionLinkedin

The Houston Endowment, Houston in Action and the Texas Census Institute hosted a community meeting and census roundtable discussion with a diverse group of community, city and business leaders.  This interactive session led to a robust discussion with Census Bureau Director Dr. Robert Santos on strategies to ensure a more accurate census count in Harris County and the broader region.

Key Takeaways:

Early engagement is essential.  Many agreed early census education, outreach and engagement led to a more effective “get out the count” efforts in Harris County.
Accurate data support economic development.  Accurate census data plays a pivotal role in the business community and fosters economic development along the Gulf Coast. Being able to access accurate data is also an essential driver of informed decision-making.
Economic messaging matters.  To resonate with communities that may not immediately grasp benefits of the census, emphasizing its economic importance could prove to be an effective communication strategy. Demonstrating the tangible gains of accurate census data may capture more local attention.
Statewide engagement is the gold standard.  Census Bureau Director Rob Santos recognized the work of the Texas Census Institute as an exemplar model for state engagement to advance census-related efforts.

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