Hard at work within the fastest-growing jurisdiction in the country, the Collin County Association of REALTORS® in northeastern Texas is keenly aware of the implications of the 2020 Census. To encourage widespread participation in the national head-count, CCAR developed a brief statement about the importance and confidentiality of the process. Then, drawing on the remarkable range of nationalities within its membership, it video-recorded the message in 26 different languages. Posted on the association website, the project is reaching audiences far beyond the REALTOR® community.
Denaige Pizzutello, CCAR’s Director of Member Engagement, also serves as staff liaison to its Global Diversity Committee; she credits Mary Leidy, the association’s energetic CEO, with the inspiration for the simple, yet ambitious, member-driven outreach effort. “Mary wanted our local support of the Census to be closely aligned with that of the state and national associations. She recognized that our new Global Diversity Committee, whose mission is to foster inclusion of diverse cultures to better serve our communities, was the natural place to develop the outreach project. At the same time, her vision also considered the benefits the project would have across all association departments, and in the public perception of the REALTORS®. Simply put, the more residents we can reach, in as many languages as possible, the more will be counted, meaning more resources will be allocated to help our communities grow.”
Adam Majorie, Chief Advocacy Officer of CCAR, adds that Texas and Collin County will be up for re-districting in 2021, an effort that will likely be informed by the data collected by this year’s Census – and it’s not alone. “All REALTOR® boards should be actively involved in making sure local governments are getting appropriate and accurate financial allocations, and that local, state, and federal representation is accurately determined. It’s in the best interests of our communities that everyone comes forward to be counted, but it’s no surprise that people don’t want to fill out an official form if it is not in one’s primary language; that could be daunting even without possible immigration status issues. Our goal here is to lower that barrier and get the most accurate count.”
Pizzutello explains that the 2-minute message was largely adopted from the U.S. Census website. It states, in clear and simple terms, what the Census is, why it’s important, and that all respondents are protected by federal law. She researched the top 20 languages likely to be spoken by U.S. residents, and was delighted when members of the Diversity Committee and association staff were not only able to match them, they actually exceeded that list by another half-dozen languages!
From Albanian to Urdu to American Sign Language, the volunteers translated the message into their own languages, submitted the script for the teleprompter, and rehearsed. CCAR’s staff videographer filmed the video clips against a green-screen in a small conference room in the association offices. Communications and IT staff worked together to format the video thumbnails, coordinate with CCAR’s contracted website developer to design the webpage on the CCAR website, and link each language clip to a corresponding page on the U.S. Census Bureau site. “We were able to do it without a project budget, because we had the in-house staff, plus the goodwill of so many talented volunteers,” says Pizzutello. “We really found that where there’s a will, there’s a way. An opportunity to do some good, like this, encourages involvement.”
That involvement didn’t end with the volunteer translators: “Our 9,000+ members are engaged with so many aspects of their communities,” says Pizzutello, who reports that the link to the project has been shared with numerous local committees and boards and government agencies. “Mayors of small towns who don’t have the resources to produce something like this have been thanking us for making it available. And beyond driving people to the Census, the whole project is showing a broad audience that REALTORS® care about so much more than just selling houses.”
See and hear the CCAR Census Project in its amazing array of languages. To learn more about how the REALTORS® of Collin County, Texas, are working to make sure that everyone is counted, contact the Collin County Association of REALTORS®’ Communications Department at 972-618-3800.