WBL: Making the Invisible Visible

Ashton Wingate, Director of Marketing for Words Beats & Life (WBL) discusses WBL‘s role in the DC Counts 2010 Census campaign:

What is the partnership between WBL and the Census?
The Census has agreed to be a marketing partner with WBL’s 5th Annual Bum Rush the Boards Hip-Hop Chess tournament. We found that it was a great fit as we are hoping to reach, inform, and be a resource to the same audience.

Discuss the connection between “being counted” and resources.

The Census and Bum Rush the Boards share a goal in trying to serve the communities/constituencies that are constantly overlook yet are in need of the most resources/help. In the case of the census I think they’ve hit the nail on the head with their informational approach to educate those who could benefit most about how exactly the census affects their community. In the past, misrepresentation of demographics like: race, population, income, and age have contributed to insufficient answer to important issues or in even worse cases hidden the very issues the census is designed to help solve

This year, we applaud the US Census for making a concerted effort to make sure communities like Columbia Heights, Anacostia, and Trinidad are properly evaluated and given the aid that is direly needed.

With Bum Rush the Boards we have decided to incorporate the STEMA initiative set forth by DCPS in order to include minorities and children in low income communities in the conversation when it comes to jobs and employability in career fields dealing with science, technology, engineering, math, and arts. We often tell our children that they can be firefighters, teachers, doctors, and politicians but we never tell them that they could be aeronautical engineers, architects, curators, and biologists. We are using this event to bring together hip-hop and the arts in unique way to open the minds of the youth to the vast amount of opportunities available to them in the STEMA career fields. Once we can broaden students’ ideas of what their goals can be we can then go about getting them the resources they need to achieve them.

How is the Census a relevant part of your and your organization’s mission?

At its core, the census is about people. It’s about giving the people a voice so that they are heard and engaged by the world around them. Just as the census uses data to advocate the need for resources, our DC Urban Arts Academy has put systems in place to track and evaluate the progress of our students to make the case for more resources to help our students achieve even more through our programming. Through events like Bum Rush the Boards, we bring resources an opportunities to our students that they would otherwise not have because they have been systematically overlooked.

How does this partnership foster the community?

We pride ourselves, in all of our events, on bringing people together. It is always a top priority to build bridges and create partnerships not only for ourselves but for others as well. This year, working with the census is a big step towards marrying the arts community with actual hard line government initiatives and giving citizens the opportunity to have a real dialogue with their representatives. With the census’ involvement, we hope to nuance our 5th annual event to appeal to people like Councilmember Jim Graham, and Mayor Adrian Fenty, and make Bum Rush the Boards something they can really get behind. We hope to have them show their support by attending our event giving our community a chance to converse with them face to face and let them know how much we appreciate their work. But, more importantly how much more work there is to be done. The census goes a long way in making this a reality for the community.

In addition , partnering with us will give the census a more familiar face to make the community more comfortable with filling out the necessary forms to provide our government the data they need in order to make places like Columbia Heights, Trinidad, and Anacostia better places to live and work.

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