Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Census could jeopardize state funding: groups

Ten Illinois foundations, including the Boeing Co. Charitable Trust, are collectively investing $1 million to improve participation in the 2010 census.

Census figures are one of the factors used to determine how federal funds are distributed to state and local governments. Those funds are estimated at $400 billion annually, according to the Joyce Foundation and the Chicago Community Trust, two of the foundations leading the initiative. That means Illinois could lose $12,000 over the next decade for each person not counted, the groups said.

“We felt it was really important for the philanthropic sector to step up because everybody’s affected if (the census) is wrong,” a Joyce Foundation spokesman said. “Those numbers stick for 10 years.”

The initiative, called “Count Me In,” sent out requests for proposals to more than 200 civic, social and community organizations. Grants will be awarded to non-profit groups for activities such as public education campaigns, community outreach, training sessions and special events.

The census-awareness campaign will specifically target “hard-to-count” low-income and minority communities, the groups said. Census counts have been hampered in recent years by anti-immigration laws, the housing crisis and a general reluctance to share personal information after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

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