President Preckwinkle today announced the launch of the 2020 Census online dashboard Census by the Numbers in English and Spanish. The Census dashboard has been designed to show and maintain transparency regarding Census dollars at work. Additionally, Cook County and partners provided updates about the County's 2020 Decennial Census efforts amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic necessitated a major strategic pivot in outreach and spending. Much in-person outreach rapidly moved to mobile and digital outreach efforts.
"We strive to use tax dollars as efficiently and effectively as possible to educate, inform, and encourage full participation in the completion of the 2020 Census," said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. "The pandemic is sparking a deeper need for technology to drive our Census outreach efforts.”
Census by the Numbers is a good government tool designed to offer visibility, openness, and transparency for the Cook County Census Outreach Program. "The public should know how money is being spent," said Dessa Gypalo, Chief Data Officer for the Bureau of Technology. "Transparency is not just releasing dashboards; it's making the underlying data accessible."
The dashboard contains information regarding itemized spending categories over time. More data will be added to Census by the Numbers as outreach continues in 2020.
“I am proud of the way the County and its grantees are using this public dashboard to promote deeper transparency of our work," said President Preckwinkle. “As with our Cook County Budget, we strive to make our spending as transparent and understandable as possible to the public in order to ensure that we remain responsible fiscal stewards of taxpayer dollars.”
During the press conference, President Preckwinkle was also joined by Alma Anaya, Cook County Commissioner (7th District) and Co-Chair of the Complete Count Commission; Xochitl Flores, Marilyn Sanders, Regional Director of the United States Census Bureau; and Cristina Vera, Community Outreach lead for the William Everett Group.
"The Southwest Side, which comprises my District, has literally been struggling to survive due to consistently maintaining one of the highest Covid-19 positive case rates in the State of Illinois,” said 7th District Cook County Commissioner and member of the Cook County Complete County Census Commission Alma Anaya, during the press conference. “In contrast, my District also has the lowest self-response rates in the 2020 Census with only 41% having been counted as of June 19th. The Census will determine the amount and quality of resources coming to my constituents for the next decade and it has never been more urgent and necessary to be counted as a way to uplift your voice and that of your community."
Other updates included an emphasis on collaboration to increase counts in communities with low response rates. Coordinated social media campaigns have proven successful to amplify awareness during June around the importance of counting refugees and immigrants, African-Americans and LGBTQ+.
"An accurate census is vital to our nation's ability to provide an equitable distribution of financial, legislative, educational, public health, housing, and the variety of resources," said 4th District Commissioner and Cook County Complete Count Census Commission Chair Stanley Moore. "It is critical for us to contribute to creating stable communities."
Cook County is also using low response rate data to guide spending strategies.
"We are making targeted media buys, using zip code targeted ads, and making strategic placements for digital and social media ad campaigns," said Bureau Chief Xochitl Flores.
The County has employed social media to explain the importance of completing the Census. Also, 30-second public service announcements featuring influencers in multiple languages, including English with Spanish subtitles, are being aired through various media outlets covering all Cook County municipalities.
"While our digital efforts are enhanced, we recognize the importance of maintaining community level visibility," said Cristina Vera of the William Everett Group. "Our grantees are doing this with lawn signs, participating in virtual townhall meetings, distributing informational inserts in newspapers and food pantry distribution centers, and sharing flyers at PPE distribution sites."
The County will continue to encourage all residents to complete and return the Census questionnaire by mail, phone, or online. The Census has only nine questions and takes about 10 minutes to complete.
For more help with responding to the U.S. Census, County residents can complete an online survey on the County website at www.cookcountyil.gov/census.
For additional information and assistance on responding, visit the U.S. Census Bureau at 2020census.gov/en/ways-to-respond, or call 844-330-2020. Phone assistance is available from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.