September 20, 2019 Meeting Minutes

Illinois 2020 Census Advisory Panel
September 20, 2019


IDHS Harris Building - 100 S. Grand Ave, 3rd Floor, Springfield
James R. Thompson Center - 100 W. Randolph St, Suite 16-504, Chicago

Panel members in Chicago: Deborah Bennett, State Representative Lisa Hernandez, State Representative Theresa Mah, State Senator Dan McConchie, Maria S. Pesqueira, State Representative Andre Thapedi

Panel members in Springfield: None

Panel members absent: Former State Representative Mike Fortner, State Senator Kimberly Lightford, State Senator Andy Manar, State Representative Ryan Spain, State Senator Jill Tracy

Panel members participating by phone: State Senator Iris Martinez

Staff in attendance: Oswaldo Alvarez, John Arenas, Kia Coleman, Ryan Croke, Deputy Governor Sol Flores, Secretary Grace Hou, Emily Katalinich, Hina Mahmood, John Schomberg, Marishonta Wilkerson, Lizzy Whitehorn, Yolonda Williams

The meeting was called to order by Deputy Governor Sol Flores at 9:42 am. Deputy Governor Flores welcomed the attendees and led introductions.

Welcome and Introductions

Deputy Governor Flores discussed the completion of the application phase of the 2020 Census Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) and appreciated the guidance of the Census Advisory Panel members, efforts of staff, and public feedback to achieve that milestone. Secretary Hou also acknowledged the accomplishment and welcomed additional guidance and feedback to ensure a complete count. Deputy Governor Flores introduced Oswaldo Alvarez, Census Office Co-Director, who started in the role on September 9th.

IDHS General Counsel John Schomberg summarized the roll call and stated that there was quorum.

Motion to Approve July 8, 2019 and August 16, 2019 Minutes

Maria Pesqueira made a motion, seconded by Deborah Bennett to approve the July 8, 2019 and the August 16, 2019 meeting minutes. Members voted unanimously to approve both sets of minutes.

Public Participation

Three people signed up and provided public comment:

Steven Monroy from MALDEF thanked the panel for their responsiveness to MALDEF's input. He suggested increasing communication between the State and the U.S. Census Bureau to ensure strong and strategic coordination of census outreach efforts.

Anita Banerji from Forefront shared her appreciation for DHS's responsiveness to Forefront's recommendations regarding the 2020 Census NOFO. She shared there are already a number of census outreach efforts in Illinois including 42 grantees supported by the Illinois Count Me In 2020 Funders' Collaborative, 18 grantees supported by the Secretary of State's Office, Complete Count Commissions across the state, and Rainbow PUSH Coalition members. There is a great need for collaboration across these efforts.

Phyllis Logan from the NAACP shared that the census is a vital function for the federal government and critical for Illinois. Outreach efforts must be delegated to nonprofit organizations that are trusted messengers and that work in hard-to-count communities. She recommended increasing communications about GATA certification with small nonprofit organizations.

Update from the U.S. Census Bureau

Census Office Co-Director Marishonta (Shonta) Wilkerson shared that the U.S. Census Bureau (USCB) began early address canvassing. They also hired 900 individuals in Illinois and aim to hire up to 1200. They aim to hire additional workers for the April to July non-response period.

Update from the Secretary of State's Office

Jeanine Stroger from the Secretary of State's Office (SOS) shared about the various events she participated in to raise awareness about their census efforts, including a press conference with Senator Durbin. SOS will utilize their 140 facilities across the state for census outreach efforts. SOS is receiving requests to speak via social media. SOS also provided an update about their census grant program. The agency awarded $1.5 million to 18 organizations to engage in census outreach efforts. A list of the grantees can be found on their website,

Sen. McConchie requested additional information regarding 2020 Census hiring efforts. Ms. Stroger shared they are working in partnership with the USCB.

Sen. McConchie and Rep. Thapedi requested information about federal waivers to ensure individuals maintain public benefits (SNAP, TANF, Medicaid, etc.) if they become census workers. Ms. Wilkerson shared that Illinois received the SNAP waiver and will have an update regarding the Medicaid waiver for the next meeting.

Update on 2020 Census Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO)

IDHS shared that the July 31st - September 6th application window was extended to September 13th in response to panel member and public feedback. By the application deadline, IDHS received 39 applications for Regional Intermediaries. Also, over 200 organizations submitted responses to the subrecipient survey.

Panel members asked questions regarding the application and evaluation process, including regarding what may occur if evaluators determine that there is no qualified applicant for a region and regarding organizations applying to serve multiple regions.

Merit Based Review

Secretary Hou shared that an equity lens is central to all IDHS efforts and supported by the new Strategy, Equity, and Transformation Office. It will therefore be central in the 2020 Census NOFOF application merit-based review process.

Mr. Alvarez provided details about the merit-based review process. There are over 10 teams of reviewers. Each team has at least one person of color, one person with experience in Hard-to-Count communities, and one person with expertise in fiscal procedures and compliance. The teams consist of both internal and external reviewers, from across the state.

Panel members asked questions about the subrecipient grant process and regarding the scoring system for evaluating the RIs. Panel members and staff discussed further GATA webinars and the process, should it be necessary, to issue another NOFO for a region.

Timeline Review

Under the current timeline, DHS will finalize the NOFO process by October 15. RIs and subrecipients will begin by the week of November 4. The next Census Advisory Panel meeting will be on October 18, 2019.


Meeting adjourned at 10:48 am