May 15, 2020 Minutes

Illinois 2020 Census Advisory Panel
May 15, 2020


Phone Number: 312-535-8110 Access Code: 802-409-251#

WebEx Link:


Panel Members on WebEx: Deborah Bennett, Former Representative Mike Fortner, State Representative Elizabeth (Lisa) Hernandez, State Representative Theresa Mah, Maria Pesqueira, State Senator Jil Tracy.

Panel Members absent: State Representative Carol Ammons, State Senator Kimberly Lightford, State Senator Andy Manar, State Senator Iris Martinez, State Senator Dan McConchie, State Representative Ryan Spain, State Representative Andre Thapedi.

Staff in attendance on WebEx: Deputy Governor Sol Flores, IDHS Secretary Grace Hou, Oswaldo Alvarez, IDHS, John Schomberg, IDHS, and Marishonta Wilkerson, IDHS.

Welcome and Introductions

The meeting was called to order by Deputy Governor Sol Flores at 9:35am. IDHS General Counsel John Schomberg summarized the roll call and the panel did not achieve a quorum. Representative Theresa Mah and Senator Jil Tracy joined, as noted below.

Public Participation

Anita Banerji of Forefront asked if Regional Intermediaries (RIs) will need to reapply for awards in FY21. John Schomberg shared that IDHS will be able to renew awards and that RIs would need to complete a budget review and the GATA compliance process, but that there will be no new, competitive, merit-based process.

April Minutes Approval

Senator Jil Tracy joined the meeting. The Panel lacked a quorum and could not approve the April 2020 minutes.

2020 Census Grant Program Update

Oswaldo Alvarez highlighted the role elected officials have in encouraging their constituents to complete the Census. Marishonta Wilkerson shared that on April 30th, the Census Office released a joint video with Mayor Lightfoot, Governor Pritzker, and Cook County President Preckwinkle. As a result, Illinois had the highest census response rate in the country on a single day, moving the ranking from 9th to 7th in the nation. She encouraged panel members to be "Census Ambassadors" and to encourage their constituents to fill out the census.

Kivvit Social Media Presentation

Sarah Hamilton of Kivvit shared that elected officials are the trusted voice for their constituents. She showed how panelists and other elected leaders can promote Census completion among their constituents. Kivvit has created a "social media toolkit" that provides materials for elected officials to use when sharing census messages across their communications platforms.

Representative Theresa Mah joined the call.

Sean Anderson from Kivvit shared that the joint video released by the Census Office made 1,952,845 impressions on Twitter. Mayor Lightfoot made a meme based on the video, and that tweet made 1.9 million impressions as well. In total, the #MakeILCount has made 4.5 million impressions so far.

Mr. Anderson also shared that the paid media strategy is primarily a digital campaign targeted to Hard to Count communities. This includes broad-reaching social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, as well as web searches and streaming services like Hulu and Spotify. About twenty percent of the paid media budget is used for ethnic publications in both traditional and digital platforms, like The Chicago Defender, WVON, Univision, and Telemundo. Kivvit has subcontracted with The Purple Group and Wyn-Wyn Communications to reach the Latino and African American communities.

Representative Mah asked if there are any plans for in-language media to the Asian American community. Sean Anderson answered that the digital ads were running in-language on television and radio websites.

Ms. Wilkerson shared that on May 14th, Forefront participated in a social media event to highlight the intersection of the Census and Asian and Pacific Islander American Heritage Month, Mental Health Awareness Month, and Older Americans Month.

FY21 Census Funding

Secretary Grace Hou shared that the U.S. Census Bureau has extended the self-response timeline and based on the advice of the panel is pursuing a plan to continue activities into the fall. As part of the Governor's proposed budget, IDHS is currently requesting $14.5 million for the General Assembly to approve to continue Census activities into the new fiscal year. An equity lens, along with response rates from across the state, will inform FY21 strategy and budget. There is currently no indication from the City of Chicago and Cook County that they will be able to continue funding Census efforts in FY21.

Response Rates

Mr. Alvarez shared that Illinois' current response rate is 64.2%. In 2010, the total response rate was 70%. The highest response rate is Monroe County. Some of the highest response rates are in the collar counties, all with over 70% response rates. The lowest response rate counties are Hardin (18%) and Calhoun (21%). Cook County is at 59%, and the City of Chicago is at 51%. The City of Chicago is leading cities with populations over 2 million. Every time there is a coordinated social media event there is a noticeable boost.

Representative Mah asked what response rate does the State need to achieve to count the same number of people as in 2010. Oswaldo Alvarez responded that in 2010, Illinois achieved a 70% self-response rate. Although Illinois is well on track to reach that percentage, COVID-19 has significantly changed Census operations due to a lack of in-person questionnaire assistance and Census events being canceled.

UIC Presentation

UIC developed a mapping tool for elected officials to view response rates in their districts. Illinois has been a top ten response rate state since the Census began. The tool can show elected officials response rates by census tracts in their districts. The data is broken down by day, so elected officials can view the improvement over time. This also gives information on which RI is working in each district.

Maria Pesqueira asked if UIC can share the tutorial with community leaders. Moira Zellner answered that there is a link to the tutorial under "read the instructions here" at

Timeline Review

The U.S. Census Bureau has instituted a portal extension for the Census to October 31st. However, the USCB still needs congressional approval to move the deadline for data being delivered to the President from December 2020 to April 2021, as well as to move the deadline for delivering redistricting data to states from April 2021 to June 2021. The Census Bureau asked the IDHS Census Office to share that Albany Park, Evanston, and Rogers Park are still in need of Census enumerators.

Future Census Meetings

Mr. Alvarez shared that Census Office is working with the Governor's Office to extend the Executive Order and are looking to keep the same schedule going forward, which would be the third Friday of the month at 9:30am.

The meeting adjourned at 11:50am.