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Count Me In


In September 2009, 60 nonprofits and 10 foundations in Illinois launched an unprecedented campaign to improve participation in the 2010 census. The Joyce-supported Count Me In campaign targeted 37 hard-to-reach communities in Chicago and throughout Illinois. The 60 participating organizations used a variety of strategies and tactics with their established community networks to increase participation in the census.

In Chicago, 63 percent of households returned census forms, an increase of 5 percent compared to the 2000 census. In Illinois, 73 percent of households returned their census forms, 3 points above the national average and a 2 percent improvement on the state’s 2000 census form returns. Across the state, cities that were the focus of Count Me In had greater increases in response rate than other cities.

The final report on the $1.2 million campaign has been released along with lessons learned and recommendations for future initiatives. Significant findings include:

  • Many factors, including the Count Me In campaign, contributed to Chicago and Illinois's higher participation.
  • Aligning census projects with the core purpose of a grantee's ongoing community efforts yields benefits beyond census participation.
  • Flexibility and nimbleness are essential for successful outreach and mobilization.
  • Messages must be carefully crafted to address community members’ questions about the census and privacy concerns.
  • Nonprofits have proven themselves strong partners with the US Census Bureau.


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