This is a historic moment in Illinois’ history—the General Assembly appropriated a Census State appropriation for $29 Million for statewide community outreach purposes. Through collaborative, ongoing efforts, Forefront’s IL Count Me In 2020 statewide Advocacy Coalition, in conjunction with the Rainbow PUSH Census Coalition advocated for a State Census appropriation this legislative cycle—monies that would be accessible to hard-to-count communities all across the State in an effort to educate all communities on the importance of responding to the upcoming 2020 Census count.
Illinois has lost one Congressional seat since 1950. With considerable population loss over the course of decades and a reoccurring undercount of hard-to count communities across our State, Illinois could potentially lose two Congressional seats through our Census count next year, which will deeply affect our federal representation and Congressional apportionment. And, according to a study entitled, “Counting for Dollars,” through George Washington University, Illinois receives close to $35 Billion dollars annually in federal funding for social service programs, infrastructure projects, public universities, and much more.
Without a fair and accurate Census count, millions of our federal dollars that are necessary for Illinoisans’ daily lives are at risk. Coupled with the loss of Congressional representation and the loss of dire federal dollars, Illinois is facing an unprecedented time. A $29 Million Census appropriation by the Illinois General Assembly is a proactive measure by the State to ensure communities statewide are receiving education and information, as an investment for our future.
For Illinois to ensure a fair, inclusive, and accurate Census count, collaboration across government, nonprofits and philanthropy are essential for outreach and educational efforts. Community members and leaders are trusted messengers for hard-to-count communities. Last year, to start these collaborative efforts, Forefront’s IL Count Me In 2020 advocacy coalition, asked the General Assembly to consider a State Census appropriation of $5 Million dollars.
While they did not appropriate that amount, they did appropriate $1.5 Million dollars for Census outreach efforts, designated to the Secretary of State’s office to administer grants to community-based organizations and local governments. This April, the Secretary of State’s office announced those grantees—18 organizations selected to engage in Census outreach efforts across the State.
Also this April, Forefront formally announced 42 Get Out the Count (GOTC) grantees selected by the IL Count Me In 2020 Funders’ Collaborative, at a Census Summit, commemorating roughly one year from Census Day 2020 in Springfield, Illinois. This funders’ collaborative, facilitated by Forefront, pooled $1.75 Million dollars by 22 Illinois foundations to award nonprofit organizations monies, specifically for Census outreach efforts across the State.
This June, Forefront’s 42 grantees will begin their GOTC efforts for the next year. And, with the State’s investment of $29 Million dollars, a State agency will now begin the process of creating a Request For Proposal (RFP) for community based organizations and local governments all across Illinois to apply soon. Once details of this State Census RFP are available, Forefront will certainly share details. In the meantime, let us thank our State legislators for investing in Illinois’ future, encouraging communities to engage in a fair and accurate 2020 Census count.