Illinois census outreach money still hasn’t been distributed

State News

CHICAGO (AP)–Groups whose outreach efforts greatly affect how accurately Illinois’ residents are counted have yet to receive state funding.

Census advocates worry that the lag in funding the groups’ efforts could put federal funding and as many as two congressional seats at stake after the 2020 count, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Only few of the nine regional intermediary outreach groups in the Chicago region have received funding. Smaller organizations are still waiting.

The regional intermediaries serve as large umbrella organizations covering various parts of the state. From there, the Illinois Department of Human Services said the funding will trickle down to smaller organizations.

“We need to get the funds out the door as soon as possible,” said. Gov. J. B. Pritzker.

Last summer, Pritzker announced he was allocating $29 million of state money for census outreach. He says his Republican predecessor, Bruce Rauner, is responsible for why the state was behind on doing more census outreach.

Various groups have already began sharing information about the census despite not receiving any or all of their state funding.

The Carole Robertson Center for Learning, a nonprofit organization, hosted a parent night in December, meant to trigger conversations about the 2020 census. A worker from the U.S. Census Bureau was on hand to explain to parents why it’s important to fill out the questionnaire used to count the entire population.

Once they receive state funding, the Robertson Center wants to have laptops or tablets available to parents who haven’t filled out the census.

Another group hosted a two-day training earlier this month, for community organizers at Casa Michoacán in Pilsen, a heavily Mexican neighborhood in Chicago. Various state and local leaders attended to praise the push to get everyone to participate in the census, particularly immigrant communities.

Throughout the training, the crowd chanted in Spanish, “Yo cuento, tu cuentas, todos contamos,” which means, “I count, you count, we all count.”

“We need everyone to understand and know the importance of the census and know why we should all be counted,” Oswaldo Alvarez, one of the state’s census co-coordinators, told the crowd in Spanish. “We are from here, we are here and we aren’t leaving.”

The U.S. Census Bureau will start sending mailings to households across the country by March 12.

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