Even before the current economic recession and a severe budget crisis, Illinois’ nonprofit and philanthropic leaders were planning important steps to increase participation in the U.S. census and help Illinois receive its fair share of federal funds. Known as the Count Me In campaign, this endeavor is one of the largest in the country to promote census participation by a group of philanthropic funders and nonprofit organizations.
The $1.2 million campaign aims to increase census participation in 37 hard-to-count communities in Chicago and throughout Illinois. By activating an unprecedented 60 nonprofit organizations, the effort combines innovative public education campaigns, community outreach, new media, trainings, special events and other grassroots activities designed to increase the mail-back rate of census forms from select Illinois communities.
Low-income, African-American, Asian, Latino, immigrant, child, and non-English speaking populations have historically been undercounted in the census. Focusing on these groups, the nonprofits-rooted and widely trusted in their communities-are tapping existing networks to boost participation in the 2010 census.
Count Me In is a collaborative effort funded by The Boeing Company, The Chicago Bar Foundation, The Chicago Community Trust, the Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, Grand Victoria Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Polk Bros Foundation, Steans Family Foundation and Woods Fund of Chicago. In addition, LISC/Chicago is supporting five New Community Program lead agencies in this effort.
Find a list of participating nonprofits and their targeted communities here.
Valerie S. Lies is the President of the Donors Forum in Chicago, Ill.