Mayor Lori Lightfoot recently announced $700,000 in grant funding for 32 community-based organizations to support the city’s efforts in educating and engaging residents about the upcoming 2020 U.S. Census. The city partnered with Forefront’s IL Count Me In 2020 initiative to disperse a portion of its $2.7 million Census investment – the largest amount of funding Chicago has ever committed to the Census – to grant funding for community organizations. These grant funds will be used to support targeted community outreach and other initiatives to help increase Census participation for hard-to-count communities. The City of Chicago contributed $500,000 toward this community outreach effort, Uber provided an additional $100,000, the Illinois Department of Aging contributed $75,000 and the McCormick Foundation contributed $25,000.
Grant funds will be used by organizations for outreach within the City’s hardest-to-count community areas. Awardees will leverage grant dollars for community events, social media campaigns, accessible materials, and other on-the-ground outreach designed to build awareness and activate Chicago residents to complete the 2020 Census.
“Achieving a full and fair count in the upcoming census is critical to determining the necessary federal funding levels for our city, appropriate representation in Congress, and securing the continued strength of our regional economy,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “These grants stand as a vital tool to supporting Chicago’s many passionate and committed community partners who will be on the ground and working hard to include all our residents in this important process, and ensuring every voice is heard, felt and accounted for.”
“It has been an honor to work closely with Mayor Lightfoot’s team and the City of Chicago to ensure these funds support communities not yet reached through our statewide Illinois Count Me In 2020 Funders’ Collaborative, state funding, or funding from Cook County,” said Forefront President and CEO Eric Weinheimer. “These grantees have demonstrated a clear commitment to educating and activating their communities around a complete count. Forefront looks forward to supporting these grantees as we prepare for Illinois’ Census count this spring.”
Nearly half of Chicago’s 2.7 million residents are considered “hard-to-count” by the U.S. Census Bureau. This includes families of color, children under five, the elderly, veterans, returning residents, individuals with high rates of mobility and housing instability, residents with disabilities, those with limited access to the Internet, and those who may be afraid to participate.
An accurate count is vital for Chicago as it determines whether the city receives an appropriate level of representation in Congress, as well as the funding that is instrumental to maintaining infrastructure, public safety, public health, and other city services. Funding for many programs benefitting Chicagoans is allocated based on the Census, including Medicaid, Head Start, SNAP, Section 8, Title I and Special Education Grants. The City of Chicago stands to lose $1,400 each year for every resident missed in 2020, with other adverse implications in redistricting.
To learn more about the city’s 2020 Census efforts, visit census2020.chicago.gov to find up-to-date information on how to participate in the census, city resources aiding to ensure a full count, and what’s at stake for next year’s count. Follow the city’s census efforts on Twitter and Instagram at @ChiCounts2020, and search #ILCountMeIn2020 for updates on Forefront’s IL Count Me In 2020 initiative.