Byram Hills High School

Byram Hills Students Take Action to Mobilize Census Participation

(Armonk, New York, February 12) Students in the Byram Hills High School Global Scholars Program have been investigating ways to mobilize residents to complete the 2020 Census. Given that only 73% of Westchester residents were counted in the 2010 Census, the students were challenged to increase census participation in Westchester County. Students followed a design thinking process as they interviewed stakeholders, researched evidence, identified a problem area, and designed an action plan to address the problem. 

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One team of students focused on engaging the Latino community in Mount Kisco and have produced a public service announcement video (in Spanish with English subtitles and in Spanish with Spanish subtitles) that includes trusted members of the community to relay information about the importance of the census. Participants in the video include Fox Lane High School AVID students, administrators from the Bedford Central School District, Mount Kisco’s mayor, The Boys and Girls Club, The Interfaith Food Pantry, Latino U, The Mount Kisco Library, and Neighbors Link. The students of Fox Lane High School’s AVID Program and their teacher, Diane Sarna, further partnered in the effort by conducting their own research, suggesting resources and giving feedback. The video will play at Neighbors Link, the webpages of participating organizations, social media, local cable channels, and events sponsored by local nonprofits.

When residents do not respond to the Census, communities are at risk for lower federal funding and less representation in the House of Representatives. In Westchester, certain geographic areas are identified as “Hard to Count,” which means that people may be challenging to locate or hesitant to respond to the census due to their housing arrangements or immigration status. Residents in Hard to Count areas who may live in non-traditional housing are often distrustful of government agencies. The students hope to eliminate this stigma and elicit a more accurate count for Mount Kisco. This could stimulate an increase in funding and government representation for communities in need. 

A contributor in the video, Mount Kisco Mayor, Gina Picinich, voices her support, “We appreciate these impressive students who are working to engage native Spanish speakers. Their video will help to educate an undercounted population and encourage their participation in the 2020 Census.”  Rebecca Sussman, Director of Parent Education at Neighbors Link shares, “It is critically important that everyone in our community is counted in Census 2020. Data from the Census makes a significant impact on our local community in terms of funding for our schools, school lunch programs, transportation systems, child care and more.  However, there are tens of thousands of people who won’t be counted if we don’t ease fears among community members, improve accessibility to technology and provide educational outreach. Now more than ever, we must make sure every community member understands their information is completely confidential and every single person in our country deserves to be counted regardless of race, age and immigration status.”

If you would like more information about this topic, please call Jennifer Laden, social studies chairperson, Byram Hills School District at 914-273-7233, or email