For every person not counted in the census Waco stands to lose $10,000 in funding
By Cuevas Peacock
My mother is a teacher, a proud member of our world’s greatest profession. Her story is one I often tell when informing others about my upbringing, my namesake, and my passion for serving. Growing up, she taught me many lessons, both direct and indirectly, most not hitting home until years after her initial telling. However, some teachings stayed with me from the beginning, one of which having occurred when I was in the fourth grade. During those years, I was still finding myself, and for some reason, had chosen to follow a group of kids who decided to give our new teacher trouble by answering to the wrong name during roll call for the majority of the year. A seemingly harmless prank at the time, it is one that would come back to haunt me as the person who assumed my name for the day soon after switched schools resulting in me almost being dropped from the school rolls. As you could imagine, my mother was furious, and I got in trouble in more ways than one. Through it all, she taught me an invaluable lesson, centered around the need to always be myself and to ensure that I am always accounted for. It is a lesson I carry with me today and is a driving reason for me choosing to serve as an advocate for the Census in hopes of us achieving a complete count.
The research will show that for every person not counted in the Census, a municipality will stand to lose $10,000 worth of federal funding over ten years. This loss of funding affects us all, from housing to education, transportation, economic development, and a wide swath of other areas. Through my previous work as a community organizer with Grassroots Community Development, the Census played an essential role in helping us to develop communities. We used Census data that showed homeownership rates in specific neighborhoods to choose where we would target our building efforts, and the data also aided us in applying for grants to provide financial literacy to residents looking to purchase homes. For so many Wacoans, Grassroots and other housing organizations have helped them achieve the American dream of homeownership. It is a dream deferred without an accurate census count to provide the funding needed to support local housing programs.
Currently, through my role in higher education and my interaction with college students, I get to see firsthand the product of our public-school system. This is a system that is directly funded by the Census, where a failure to gain an accurate count is a failure to fund our local schools accurately. Census data determines the distribution of more than $14 billion in Title I grants, $11.3 billion in special education grants, about $13.6 billion for the National School Lunch Program, plus funds for the Head Start preschool program and grants to improve teacher quality. For so many of the students I see across campus, they have taken their learning to a higher level. These are the best of the brightest minds, who will be charged with carrying society forward and making it better for us all. I can honestly say we are in good hands. However, it is only because of the strong educational foundation they received in the public-school system—a public-school system funded by the Census.
Through my time on the Census Complete Committee, I have been able to work alongside a group of community leaders from various sectors to develop initiatives that will help us achieve an accurate Census count. While our backgrounds and experiences may be different, our mission is the same—Waco’s future. The fight for equity across our systems is a battle we all must be engaged in to win. The first step is making sure we do our part to ensure we are equipped with the funding to meet the challenge. An accurate Census count is needed in order for us to obtain the funding to guarantee Waco works for all of us. Thus, Waco needs you to participate in the 2020 census. You count, so this April, make sure you are accounted for!
For more information about local census efforts and how a complete and accurate Census count will ensure our community’s future, please visit whyicountwaco.org/community-impact.
Cuevas Peacock is a community builder with dreams of becoming a poet, for he was once told that they are life’s last true teachers. Originally from Port Arthur, Texas, he is employed with Baylor University as the Assistant Director for Cultural Wealth-Community Relations. Cuevas is certified as a Professional Community and Economic Developer through the Community Development Council, a graduate of THE Texas Southern University, and is currently pursuing his Masters of Social Impact from Claremont Lincoln University. He is a member of the 2020 Census Complete Count Committee, along with being involved in a host of other initiatives working towards making a better Waco.