Author Archives: Rahzie Seals

Census 2020 Press Conference

New York Counts 2020 is a statewide coalition of 190 partners from across the state. We seek to maximize participation in the 2020 Census. The coalition represents a wide array of issues and industries that include immigrant rights, labor, education, religion, health, government, technology, business, and libraries.

We held a Press Conference on April 1st for the 2020 census. We stood in front of the State Building in downtown Syracuse, NY. We are urging other Community-Based Organizations to join our coalition to help count the hard to reach communities. New York Counts 2020 is asking The State of New York to invest $20 million for a community -based outreach for the 2020 census. Community-based organizations need to assure that the people who are at the most risk of not being counted are indeed counted. Members of the coalition who spoke at the press conference were Fabiola Ortiz from New York Immigration Coalition. Kayla Kelechian from the Worker’s Center of CNY. Scott Kushner, a rep form Liverpool Library spoke about the digital divide. Abdul Saboor, Community Navigator representing InterFaith Works, Office for New Americans and Telia Canion, Member of the Workers’ Center of CNY spoke about why she needs to be counted.

Our newest Workers Center Leader member Telia was able to speak at the press conference. We are very proud of her for her courage to stand up a speak in public for the first time!

Her is her full statement:

My Name is Telia Canion I am a member of the Workers’ Center of Central New York and I’m here today to say that I need to be counted, and my community needs to be counted. The Census is important for me because It will help people.  The funding that will be provided to programs that help my community thrive, depends on us being counted correctly.

I am important, I want to be counted. My needs are important, and so are the needs of my community. We need community groups to help educate us about the importance of filling out the census and what we can lose if we don’t fill it out. We need community groups to help us when we have a problem filling out the census, or when we have questions.

But if community organizations don’t have the resources to help communities like mine, who will do the work? Who will help us to be counted? I want to be included in the count, but If my community doesn’t know why it matters, then it won’t be easy to count us. Leaving our voices out is saying we don’t exist and don’t matter.

Our immediate future depends on it. I heard the census will be available online, well what If there are people without internet? Or who don’t speak English?

The Governor is acting as if we don’t matter, and that we don’t count. We need that $40 million to be counted, it is the least they can do to make sure we exist, and programs that help us exist continue to exist. We matter, we count. CNY Counts!

for more information check out:

Central New York Counts! Census2020 Press Conference

New York Counts 2020 is asking New York state to invest $40 million in community -based outreach for the 2020 census. Community based organizations need resources to assure that the people that are at greatest risk of not being counted are indeed counted! People will need to utilize many of the programs such as Medicaid, Highway planning, and SNAP, that rely on an accurate count of New York’s population.

People in our communities may face hurdles to be included in the census. Community based organizations need to be there for them to assist in anyway we can. As an added hurdle for many, for the first time, the census will be conducted primarily through online responses.

Community based organizations, libraries, and learning centers are uniquely positioned to assist and reach the hardest-to-count groups because of their earned trust and cultural and language competence.

Join us in front of the State Building Monday at 4PM to make sure Albany understands the importance of approving the $40million for the state, and for funds to go to our much needed community based organizations in and around Syracuse and Onondaga.

At this time, we are reaching broadly to community groups, community centers, learning centers, and elected officials. If you are a representative of a group and would like to co-sponsor this event, please contact Please share widely with other community groups servicing hard to reach populations to ensure we have a wide representation. NYCounts2020 is also looking for community endorsers for the coalition.

Tell Your Story Training

We turn to storytelling in organizing to answer the question of “why?” why we care, why the work that we do matters, why we value one goal over another. Storytelling allows us to communicate our values, and in organizing, we use stories to articulate our shared values. Each of us can learn to tell our story that can move others to action. We all have stories of challenge and hope. The trick is, to articulate a story , so it communicates the values that called us to lead and unite. Also, challenges that we must overcome together.

At our March 21, 2019 meeting we did a training on how to tell your story. We watched a brief video story about a women name Maura. Maura is a garment worker in Los Angeles, CA. Maura was fired from her job for speaking up about the inhumane conditions. She went to her local Workers Center for help. We watched Maura grow from a shy person into a vocal member leader at her local Workers Center. We discussed the fears that kept Maura from speaking out at first. How Joann, an organizer, encourages Maura to tell her story and explain how everyone has leadership potential.

In our training we spoke of how a story structure is made up of three elements: plot, character, and moral, but a story comes alive when the character faces a challenge, makes a choice, and experiences the outcome. The Public Narrative framework is comprised of a Story of Self, a Story of Us, and a Story of Now, and learning to craft and re-craft your Public Narrative is a leadership practice. We were able to write, tell our stories and practice public speaking.

We want to say thank you to all who attended our monthly meeting/ training. We have a meeting/ training every month. If you missed this one, that’s ok! We will see you at the next one.

Building Equity Together with the Urban Jobs Task Force

The upcoming I-81 Viaduct and community grid project is an opportunity for The City of Syracuse to expand and grow. Millions of dollars will be coming into the city for this project which means employment for City residents. I-81 promises jobs that could revive our struggling city’s economy, regardless of the option chosen.

One of the main questions asked is, who will get these jobs? The Urban Jobs Task Force and Legal Services of CNY have noticed the extreme disparity in the local construction industry workforce along racial, gender and residential lines. The UJFT conducted a Racial Equity Impact Statement (REIS). The name of the report is Building Equity together in the Construction Trades.

Next step is, to get the information out.

Workers’ Center of CNY organizers sat with the Urban Jobs Task Force to figure out the best way to get the information out. It was decided to hold a dinner and invite community stakeholders, public officials, residents, and other community organizations. Countless days and hours passed as we sat together trying to figure it out. Who do we invite? How many people should attend? Where will the location be? What will go inside the information folder? Seating arrangements? And many more questions asked.

On March 14, 2019, we had the Building Equity Together event at the Downtown Marriott Syracuse. Over 100 people attended. Decka Dancil president of the UJTF hosted the event. Andrew Croom lawyer with Legal Services of CNY and one of the authors of the REIS Report gave the presentation. Croom outlined the History of Racial Discrimination in the city of Syracuse, The Current State of the Syracuse Workforce, Policies Addressing Equity on Construction Projects and the Trades Racial Diversity on Large Scale Municipal Projects in the Syracuse Area. We heard stories from workers who are directly affected. We learned about the struggles they went through with finding employment and being able to get construction training. We heard about their future hopes for gainful employment through the I-81 project.

At the end of the presentation, we did a call to action. We asked attendees to fill out commitment cards. Asking what commitments can they make today to ensure Racial Equity in the Construction Trade. Create a diligent and effective roundtable of Unions? Create a roundtable of Workforce developers, community stakeholders, and government officials around I-81 development. Using their platform for outreach and publicity in our community to further the mission.

We ended the night awarding Aggie Lane with the Building Equity Service Award.

The Urban Jobs Task Force is a collaboration of individuals and
organizations concerned about the lack of access to employment
opportunities in Syracuse and resulting in poverty faced by citizens. The UJTF advocates for job training, accessible apprenticeships, impactful legislation and community action that will lead to reduced poverty through good-paying jobs. Workers’ Center of CNY is a proud member of UJTF.

To read the full report go to: