This summit in April had a lot riding on it.

So, people came from all over the state to strategize, plan and figure out how to make the 2020 Census count for Illinois.

“This census will decide $675 billion per year in local communities for the next 10 years,” said María Teresa Kumar, founding president and editor of Voto Latino who gave the key note address. “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,”

Kumar spoke on what a complete count will mean to the majority minority generation, which is how she refers to the generation dependent on today’s plans and policies. Illinois risks losing one or two state representatives, in addition to valuable resources, if it fails to report a complete count.

That is why the Chicago organization Forefront has been leading Illinois Count Me In 2020 statewide coalition to make sure there is coordinated, concentrated outreach effort in hard-to-count communities.

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, veterans, renters, senior citizens and those with language-constraints, 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 also announced the summer grantees. She said, We “celebrate the 42 grantees that will comprise the IL Count Me In 2020 Get Out the Count (GOTC) campaign this summer.

This year’s census will be the first time people respond online. People will also still have the chance to report by phone, by mail or in person.

The first enumeration (or count) begins 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.

It is not only a chance for people to be counted, but is is also a chance for people to get a job. The Census Bureau has begun filling temporary positions for census takers, recruiting assistants, office and supervisory staff. Visit the jobs website to apply and the campaign site to learn more about Forefront’s #ILCountMeIn2020 campaign.

Said Banerji: “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.”

Jhmira Alexander is president of Public Narrative, which is a member of the Illinois Count Me In Coalition as well as a grantee program.