Leaders from organizations from across Illinois traveled to Springfield Wednesday, April 3, for Forefront’s Census Summit. Attendees heard from keynote speaker María Teresa Kumar, founding president and editor of Voto Latino, about the significance of the 2020 Census. Kumar spoke on the impact a complete count will have on the majority minority generation, which is how she refers to the generation dependent on today’s plans and policies to grow into strong, healthy, thriving individuals.

“It is incumbent upon ourselves to do the work and make people feel included in a time where some communities are very afraid of simply answering the door,” said Kumar. “This census will decide $675 billion per year in local communities for the next ten years.”

Forefront’s Illinois Count Me In 2020 program is  a statewide coalition to do concentrated outreach in hard-to-count communities, provide safe spaces for self-reporting purposes and help educate and canvass for get-out-the-count efforts.

Illinois risks losing one or two state representatives, in addition to valuable resources, if it fails to report a complete count. Ethnic communities and vulnerable populations, including immigrants, people of color, people who are homeless, people living in poverty, people who are disabled and children under the age of five, make up what are known as hard-to-count communities.

Other hard-to-count demographics include:

Farm workers,
Senior citizens, and
Language-constrained, including people who have difficulty with English.

“Full participation in the census is a top priority for this administration. Every Illinoisan deserves fair and accurate representation, and your work to reach communities across the state will help make that a reality,” said Deputy Governor Sol Flores. “Illinois cannot afford for our residents to go uncounted, because we must secure every federal dollar possible to support our children and families across the state.”

Flores added, “Those are dollars for schools, our health care system, social services network, and infrastructure projects — vital services that working families rely on. This administration is fully committed to investing in efforts to reach families in every corner of the state so that Illinois’ census count can be as complete as possible.”

Forefront’s Director of Democracy Anita Banerji said, “Forefront is proud to announce and celebrate the 42 grantees that will comprise the IL Count Me In 2020 Get Out the Count (GOTC) campaign this summer. Organizations from across the state will serve as trusted community messengers, helping residents to understand the importance of being counted during the Census 2020. The Census 2020 will have its challenges and its opportunities; Illinois needs to work together, as one state, to ensure a fair, accurate and coordinated count. Everyone counts.”

This will be the first time people can respond to the census online. Additional options available to citizens include reporting by phone, by mail and in person.

According to a Census Bureau briefing, the first enumeration (or count) in the 2020 Census begins on Jan. 21, 2020. In March 2020, the Census Bureau will mail invitations to respond to nearly every household in the country, and it will activate the online response form.

The United States Census Bureau has begun filling temporary positions including census takers, recruiting assistants, office and supervisory staff.

Visit https://2020census.gov/en/jobs to apply and http://ilcountmein2020.org/ to learn more about Forefront’s #ILCountMeIn2020 campaign.