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Advocacy group asks two-year college students to fill out Census forms

By Jon Collins

A group that advocates for two-year college students in Minnesota is encouraging them to fill out Census forms this spring after a recent national survey found young people are the least likely to participate.

LeadMN, which represents about 180,000 community and technical college students in the state, has been going directly into classrooms to talk to students, as many of them are busy with work or child care off campus when they’re not in class, said executive director Michael Dean.

“College students these days are our most diverse generation of young people,” Dean said. “It’s really important that we engage them if we’re going to build a really civically-engaged community.”

A recent Pew Research Center survey found that people under 30 are least likely to say they plan to participate in the Census.

Data from the Minnesota Office for Higher Education shows community college students are more likely to be immigrants or first-generation college students. Historically, Census participation has lagged among those groups.

Over the last three weeks, about 4,000 community college students have pledged to fill out the Census form. LeadMN is also asking students to talk to friends and loved ones about the importance of the Census.

“It’s that information from trusted members of the family, friends that tends to be the most effective,” Dean said.

LeadMN has also helped about 1,000 community college students across the state register to vote in the last few weeks. The group plans to continue outreach to two-year college students for the next eight weeks.

A coalition of groups including the Minnesota Council on Foundations, Common Cause Minnesota and Voices for Racial Justice is working to increase Census participation in the state. The state Legislature approved $1.6 million in funding to promote the Census last session.