July 17, 2020 Meeting Minutes

Illinois 2020 Census Advisory Panel
July 17, 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 Senator Kimberly Lightford, State Representative Theresa Mah, State Senator Dan McConchie, Maria Pesqueira, State Representative Ryan Spain, State Representative Andre Thapedi, State Senator Jil Tracy.

Panel Members Absent: State Representative Carol Ammons, State Senator Andy Manar, State Senator Iris Martinez.

Staff on WebEx: IDHS Secretary Grace Hou, Oswaldo Alvarez, IDHS, John Schomberg, IDHS, and Marishonta Wilkerson, IDHS.

Welcome and Introductions

Marishonta Wilkerson called the meeting to order at 9:34 am and welcomed everyone to the July meeting.

Public Participation

IDHS General Counsel John Schomberg announced that there were no submissions for public participation ahead of the meeting.

John Schomberg called the roll and found that 6 panelists were in attendance and shared that if a seventh arrives, that would constitute a quorum and approval of minutes could be moved once there was a quorum.

2020 Census Grant Program Update: Response Rates

Oswaldo Alvarez shared that Illinois is in the top ten states for response rates at 66.2% of Illinoisans responding. In 2010, Illinois reached a 70.5% response rate. Monroe County is a top county, with an over 80% response rate. All collar counties are over a 70% response rate. However, in large municipalities in collar counties (such as Waukegan, Elgin, Aurora, and Joliet), there is still a need to increase the count.

Illinois counties with the lowest response rate include Hardin and Calhoun, which have below a 40.5% response rate. Chicago is leading all cities with over 2 million people at a 54.8% response rate. Many neighborhoods across Chicago, such as Little Village, North Lawndale, New City/Back of the Yards, Englewood, West Englewood, Pilsen, Austin, Humboldt Park, Belmont-Cragin, and Hermosa, continue to see low response rates.

Former Representative Mike Fortner asked if the Census Office expects response rates to reach the 2010 numbers of 70.5% percent. Alvarez responded that the Census Office sees a 0.1% percent increase in the Census response rate daily. That is low as they were seeing a 1.0% increase before. COVID-19 deeply affected grantees' ability to do questionnaire assistance and now RIs are reworking their plans to do creative, COVID safe, questionnaire assistance. The Census Office was glad the portal has been extended until October 31, 2020 to help generate a larger count.

State Representative Lisa Hernandez, Maria Pesqueira, State Senator McConchie, and State Representative Thapedi joined the meeting during the Census Program Update.

Approval of June 2020 Minutes

John Schomberg announced that the panel had achieved a quorum and could consider approval of the meeting minutes. Deborah Bennet moved to approve the June 2020 meeting minutes and Former State Representative Mike Fortner seconded. The June 2020 minutes were approved 9 of the 10 members in attendance approving and one member (Representative Spain) not being heard.

2020 Census Grant Program Update: Fiscal Year 2021

The Census Office shared that is has worked with RIs to finalize contracts for FY21. Twenty-five contracts are complete, and the Census Office anticipates the remaining to be finalized soon. Most sister agencies are at capacity and are unable to participate due to COVID-19. The Department of Veterans' Affairs is the only sister agency requesting $10,000 to reach college students who are veterans. The Census Office is planning to directly reach IDHS clients to encourage Census response. The remainder of the funds will be spent on outreach and materials for census awareness. The Census Office also wanted to invite elected officials to host questionnaire assistance events.


The Census Office announced it is moving into a new phase of increased events and questionnaire assistance. They have been coordinating with partners on social media storms promoting the Census. Together with its Regional Intermediaries, the Census Office is organizing Asian-American Census Day in partnership with the Asian American Caucus for July 31, 2020. The Census Office asked all members to send a 30 second video to try to encourage constituents to complete the Census.

The Census Office is also working with all Illinois state agencies for a statewide competition promoting Census completion among staff. On August 17, every State employee will be given 10 minutes to complete their census. On August 31, whichever agency has the best count will receive a recognition from the Governor.

Timeline Review

The Census Office reminded the panel that the U.S. Census Bureau portal will be closing on October 31, 2020. Non-Response Follow-Up will commence August 11, 2020. Only those households who have not responded will receive a door knock.

The Census Office reminded the panel that they are scheduled to meet until December, on the Third Friday of the month.

The meeting adjourned at 10:14 am.