This impacts all of us for the next decade. Twenty-eight years of standing for count — now I’m standing to be counted.” – Armand
BOSTON — In early March, CRJ applied for and received a grant from the Human Services Providers Charitable Foundation, Inc., to work with Everyday Boston and individuals who were formerly incarcerated to increase awareness of the Census and encourage them to stand up and be counted.
The Human Services Providers Charitable Foundation, Inc., is a nonprofit organization and is the research and educational arm of the Providers’ Council, Massachusetts’ largest human services membership organization. Returning individuals have been identified as a hard-to-count population, and efforts to reach these individuals in order to accurately capture their information for the Census can be difficult. In CRJ’s decades of work with this population, peer-to-peer outreach has been a particularly effective approach to connect with individuals who were formerly incarcearted.
While the original plan was to hold an in-person focus group with returning individuals and then conduct in-person outreach, CRJ quickly shifted the project in April due to the COVID-19 pandemic and hosted a virtual focus group. Graduates of CRJ community-based residential reentry programs and others who are involved in Everyday Boston programming participated and gave feedback on what they thought would be the best virtual outreach strategies to connect with their peers. Based on experience from working with reentry clients, people with lived experience are the best source of information to inform outreach to impacted populations.
Participants decided that a short video describing why the Census is important specifically for people who have been incarcerated and debunking some myths that might hold people back from completing their Census form would be most effective in reaching people during a time when many people are staying home and following social media.
Participants were paid through the grant for their focus group time, development of the video script, time filming the video, and sharing of the video. The video has been viewed more than 350 times since early June.