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Marion Barry Youth Leadership Institute 2020 MLK Essay Contest

1st Place Winner – Elementary School
Colette Gregg
Stuart Hobson Middle School
6th Grade

Colette Gregg
Colette Gregg

The 2020 Census: Why It is Important as a Citizen, Child and Student

The United States 2020 Census will take place in April 2020. The census takes place every 10 years. The U.S. takes this census by calculating everybody who lives in the country. They do this because they need to see of locations in the U.S. are underfunded or overfunded in order to make sure each area has enough financing.

The 2020 Census will also ensure that each state has the right number of congressional representatives. Representatives are important to each state because they pass laws. I see a direct link between the 2020 census and Dr. Martin Luther King’s ideas about equality and unity. The 2020 Census will help secure an equal amount of funding in public facilities. It will ensure that citizens, as well as future citizens, all are able to have equal access education, health care, transportation, and other necessities. The 2020 Census will help everybody in the U.S. have access to fundamental opportunities.

The 2020 Census is important to D.C. because the census results in the provision of around $6 billion to D.C. for Medicaid, schools, food assistance and dozens of other fundamental needs. That means after the census takes place, D.C. will get a better amount of funding for all public facilities that almost everyone living in D.C. uses and requires. Currently, there are about 1,000 additional people a month coming to D.C., which is mostly from birth and migration. In 2017-2018, D.C. was the sixth-most populous region in the country. In order for there to be an accurate amount of funding, the Census Bureau must get an accurate count of all the people living in D.C. and this is why the census in important to the District of Columbia.

The 2020 Census in important to me because living in D.C., I am not only a citizen but also a student and a child. Being a student in D.C., I have dealt with funded and underfunded schools. However, there should not be underfunded schools; everyone should have equal access to schools that have an equal amount of funding. This can only take place if the government can see the number of children in D.C. and fund schools that need things like computers, textbooks, or simply a library.

I recently went to a school that I had to transfer out of because there was not enough opportunity to learn. There was no library. There were two computer carts and some days we sixth graders could not take our tests because seventh graders were testing. Schools like this need the same amount of funding that wealthier schools have. All schools should have equal amounts of funding.

Being a child, I do have health care, thanks to my parents who have health insurance. I can go to urgent care and I can go to the emergency room. There are some hospitals that will care for people without insurance; however, these hospitals depend on federal funding so that people who cannot have health insurance can be taken care of.

The 2020 Census is important to me because being able to go to a school and having access to a good doctor and hospitals are crucial to my future. I often see Martin Luther King’s vision in D.C., but I think people in D.C. could do better at noticing the unfairness in most D.C. public facilities. I believe that if everyone participates in the 2020 Census, the amount of funding would have a very positive and sustained effect of the District.

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1st Place Winner – Middle School
Jadyn Settles
Alice Deal Middle School
5th Grade

Jadyn Settles
Jadyn Settles

Why is the Census Important to D.C. and Me?

The U.S. Census is important to the country but people ignore it a lot because they don’t really understand it. The Census is especially crucial for citizens in the District of Columbia to participate in because we are not a state and don’t have real representation in Congress. Still, our citizens need to be counted.

The way the Census works is that once a decade, a set of questions is sent to every household to attempt to record the total number of people in the country. The Census is important because of the money that each state gets from the federal government to fund services like the fire department. If people don’t respond to the Census, it will lower the amount of money we get for services. The Census also determines how many representatives we will have in Congress. Since D.C. is not officially a state we do not have real representation in Congress but our shadow representatives give us a voice. So, the Census is an opportunity for D.C. to have a bigger voice even it we don’t have a vote in Congress.

As a minor, I depend on adults, my community and the government to help provide healthcare, education and well-being. For all of these things, I need the right resources. The 2020 Census is important because it will determine how much funding my school and library receive as well as money for healthcare services, shelters and more. It is terrible that millions of children may not be counted in this upcoming Census because of fear and misunderstanding, as it will lead to crowded classrooms, underfunded programs and lack of research for the next 10 years. Kids who have a high risk of not being counted are children of color, children from low-income families, children from certain rural areas, multi-family households and children who live on American Indian reservations. They will all be negatively impacted if they aren’t counted.

The resources that are funded through the Census are critical to the long-term success of all children and especially kids like me who in this time period will become an adult and have to deal with the impact from an undercount. We must ensure that District residents understand the importance and participate in the 2020 Census.

Another important thing that the Census does is track data over time. This is good for all people who need to do research. The census data shows that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. marched on Washington, the demographics for African Americans have changed exponentially. In 1964, 25.7 percent of African Americans graduated from high school compared to 87.1 percent of African Americans in 2016. In 1964, there were only 306,000 African-American college students while in 2016 there were 2.9 million. We can see from the Census data the impact King’s civil rights movement had on Blacks in America. The 2020 data will hopefully show that these numbers are continuing to rise.

I believe participating in the Census is a civic duty. Martin Luther King encouraged all of us to be civically engaged. I hope the District of Columbia will encourage residents to participate in the 2020 Census so that we can get all of the funding we need and continue moving towards the dream that Dr. King envisioned.

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1st Place Winner – High School
Candace House
St. John’s College High School
12th Grade

Candace House
Candace House

Why is the Census Important to D.C. and Me?

When I was in the 3rd grade, I remember a tall man in a suit holding a tablet who entered my classroom. My teacher said that he was from the government and he needed our help for a few minutes. He had us all sit down while he counted each one of us. I thought of it as a double win, as we got to play a fun counting game and we also stopped learning for a brief second. After he finished counting, the students and I then received an “I was counted” sticker that I loved to play with.

From elementary school to middle school, I never understood why the man was counting us and what he was using the information for. However, through taking government classes at my high school, I realized just how important this government counting is.

The fun counting game soon became known to me as the United States Census. The Census helps to institute how our lives will be impacted for the next 10 years. The Census tells the government how many resources need to be distributed throughout the city. Every aspect that is funded federally stems from the Census report. Public housing, availability of jobs, transportation, insurance and many other aspects could be drastically affected based on the count. As Mayor Bowser states, “Getting an accurate count is critical for DC to get the resources it needs to give everyone living in our city a fair shot.” For the needs of the citizens of the District of Columbia to be met, Mayor Bowser has started a 2020 Census Campaign to insure an accurate count.

In the 2010 Census, Washington, DC was undercounted. According to the Census Coverage Measurement Estimation Report, 2.3 percent of the population did not show on the Census. Based on the population count that the government received, they gave $6 billion annually to D.C. When the population grows, as it has with the continuous amount of gentrification and building of condos and apartments, the amount of money allocated to D.C. grows as well. This money is used to support important programs for the city, update the ward and ANC boundaries, and help agencies with their policy decision-making plans.

The city uses the funds given by the government for programs that will benefit the people. The Census asks for information on one’s household and household location. D.C. has used $350 million in federal funding in the past decade to build Section 8 houses and assist low-income families. This is important because everyone needs a quality shelter. If many people did not submit their census, the government would never know how many people were without homes of proper resources and thus could not help them.

The census is very important for the public good, but it also impacts my life personally. The census will affect all people that are in the education system who live in the District. When I attend college next fall, my family will need assistance paying for tuition. They will have two children in college at once and will need extra support. The census will tell the government the needs of the population. Federal dollars provided will then be given out for student loans. These loans can help me pay my college bill. Without the census, I could possibly have to go to a school I dislike or possibly not attend a university at all.

The census also helps us understand businesses and job availability. It can help create more jobs for D.C. citizens. This can especially help my mother. This year, my mother lost 50 percent of her income and is struggling to pay for me and my sibling’s tuition. She has been looking for a second job to fill this gap for months but has been unsuccessful. Due to this, I try to work and make money to ensure that she does not have to pay for many of the things I might need for school. The 2020 Census could help my mother with her job search. This will make life easier for me as I do not have to worry about her stressing over how bills will get paid.

The 2020 Census will also impact my family’s health insurance. It will allocate funding to help citizens with their health needs. My father currently works for the federal government. The government provides health insurance for our entire immediate family. Without the census, it is possible that the funding for healthcare could disappear. This would make it difficult to receive help if I were to become sick or injured.

Lastly, the census is important to me because it impacts the way I navigate the city. Every day I take the bus home from school. I also take the train to go to work in order to not be a burden on my mother. With federal funding, D.C. has received more than $500 million for transit planning and improvements. With public transportation moving smoothly, I am able to get home at a reasonable hour, and also can continue to make money to help out my family.

The census is the District’s way to provide for the needs of every person that lives in the city. It impacts every single person in D.C. even if they might not know it. That is why it is important that on April 1 of 2020, every person in D.C. is accurately accounted for the next 10 years.

 

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Participants

Elementary

Jonathan David Thoman, 2nd Place
Gabriel William Lucas Kinlow, 3rd Place
Anna Elizabeth G. Martinez-Graham
Phoenix Gueory
Elisia Mcilwain
Robert Gabriel Forte Freeman
Jer’rhee Robinson
Promise Parraway
Nazaria Hadassah Smith
William Neuroth
Amaliah Jones

Middle School

Jeffrey West Jr., 2nd Place
Courtney Clay, 3rd Place
Jack Wohlschlegel
Na’Shon Ross
Pierre’ Washington
Lorenzo Young

 

High School
Shana Grant, 2nd Place
Da’Nay Barnes, 3rd Place
Nia Diggs
Ayanna Jenae McClellan
Briana Johnson
Tornae Warren
Carnez Malik Powell
Lidia Dominquez
Mahliek McDonald
Chioma Chukwurah
Stella Makuza
Dante Gaines-Young
Nathaniel Haile
Kaylah Hester
Jenae Preddie
Shaunetta Burton
Rikiya Styles
Nadie Wade
Morgan White
Paige Phillips
Kyra Black
Ihechikarageme Munonye
Reniya Coleman
Laneah Yarborough
Kamaia Bexley
Cara Moore
Kennedi Curtis
Arnitra Harrington
Lordes Weston
Daryl Johnson
Aryn Monroe

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