Almost all of Dodge City was white in 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. But people who lived here a decade ago say that was not true then and is not true now.

Hispanics are the majority in Dodge City, and with the 2020 census approaching on April 1, community leaders want to educate locals so no one will be afraid to fill out the form.

A free bilingual census class will be open to the public at 6 p.m. Feb. 12 at the Dodge City Public Library. It will teach people what the census is, why it’s important and how it will benefit them.

Those who attend will learn that everyone in the country is required to fill out a census form but that no one will have to answer any questions about their citizenship.

According to data from the 2010 census, Dodge City had a population of 27,340 people, 87% of whom were white.

This year, members of the Complete Count Committees in Dodge City (both the city and the unions have CCCs) have reached further into the community to stimulate the spread of information by word of mouth.

Committee chairman Ernestor De La Rosa said he and members like Blanca Soto, campaign director for the nonprofit advocacy group Kansas Appleseed, have trained local leaders to mobilize others in the community to participate in the civic process.

“The goal right now is promotion and awareness of census 2020 in our community,” De La Rosa said.

DCPL bilingual services specialist Vicky Ortiz said the CCC trained her to be informative and proactive.

Not only is she going to teach the free census class at the library, but she plans to bring at least five friends and family members to it. She encourages others to do the same.

If necessary, Ortiz said she will schedule a second class at the library to meet the needs of the people.

The longtime resident of Dodge City said she didn’t see anyone pushing hard for the 2010 census.

“We didn’t make it count in 2010,” she said, speaking on behalf of the local Latino population.

“We didn’t have the knowledge or the skills then,” she said. “This year, we’re pushing very hard.”

Ortiz said more people are coming to the library with questions about the census. Since word-of-mouth is a big way the Latino community communicates, she feels that is a good sign that efforts to reach hard-to-reach demographics have already paid off.

“Latinos are going to make a big impact on data from Dodge City,” she said.

De La Rosa said the U.S. Census Bureau still needs to fill about 60 part-time positions for census enumerators in this area. The job pays $15 an hour.

For more information about library resources, visit www.dcpl.info or call Ortiz at 620-225-0248 or email at vickyo@dcpl.info.

Anyone who would like to be part of the Dodge City CCC may contact De La Rosa at 620-225-8100 or ernestord@dodgecity.org.

For more information about the census and how to apply for a job with the U.S. Census Bureau, visit census.gov.