COMMENTARY: It’s time to count everyone to ensure funding for the next decade

November 15, 2019 /


As someone who does phone banking, I get all types of calls. Sometimes the conversations go well and end with, “I’m really happy you are so young and doing this,” while other times people hang up before I even finish up with, “My name is Angell, and I am a member of LOUD For Tomorrow…”

The year 2020 will be a huge year for our community. With the 2020 Census, local and national elections, there is a lot of work to be done.

Right now, I want to focus on the census, a procedure that determines how resources will be allocated depending on a given population.

The self-response period for the Census begins in March, and $115 billion in federal funding is at stake. Right now I am doing early outreach for the 2020 Census with LOUD For Tomorrow, a youth-led community organization in Delano.

Three weeks ago, a group of 10 high school students and I started our Census 2020 phone bank to inform Kern residents about the importance of enumerating oneself. We have been talking to residents and asking if we can count on them to participate.

Next year’s count will decide funding for the next decade for Medi-Cal, childcare, Head Start, food stamps, and other programs for low-income children, women, and seniors. These programs are essential to our county, and it is extremely important for us to make sure every single person is being counted.

I’m phone banking because without a complete count, the majority of our Brown and Black community will not get the needed funds to support our schools, health, and environment. I know this because I grew up in a family who received food stamps and childcare aid. This work ensures families like mine receive the resources they deserve by getting counted.

Everyone in our community, no matter their race, age, or income, deserves the best for their families. Our phone banking crew understands the challenges of counting all of Kern County.

The Census count will impact our community’s development and health. We want to make sure everyone gets counted next year to ensure teachers, seniors, and students, like us, have the resources we need to have thriving communities.

At the beginning of the campaign, I found it a little intimidating and hard calling people I had never spoken with before and asking them if they knew about the Census. After a few good – and not so good calls – it got easier and even fun.

Not only have I had the opportunity to work on my communication skills, but I am able to give back to my community by explaining the importance of the 2020 Census. Even though it can be draining to call residents for three hours straight every night, it’s worth it. Many of my fellow community members don’t have enough knowledge about the Census, so I’m excited to be able to inform them to make sure they feel prepared.

For me, this is about making sure my school gets fully funded for the next ten years and students receive the resources they need, such as new books, mental health services, academic counselors, and college prep classes.

Young people will be left to deal with the negative outcomes of an inaccurate count, but my organization and I will continue to do our best to make sure that doesn’t happen. We urge anyone who is able to help to become involved in making sure our hard-to-count communities get counted in the 2020 census.

Angell Magana is a member of LOUD for Tomorrow and is one of the organization’s phone bankers. He is a high school student in Delano.

Kern Sol News is a youth-led journalism organization in Kern County. In their stories, reporters shine light on health and racial disparities in under-served communities across Kern. For more stories by South Kern Sol, head to