Illinois Collaboration on Youth and Pay Now Illinois

Background

Illinois Collaboration on Youth (ICOY) is the leading statewide member network advancing the interests of at-risk youth and families, delivering programs, services and advocacy. At a time of growing budgetary pressure on the human and social services sector, ICOY sought to raise visibility and understanding among the public, funders, and legislators of the importance of sustained support for community-based programs that promote child and family welfare. Greater awareness became even more critical when the State of Illinois, operating without a budget, stopped funding much of the sector.

Our Work

Melcher+Tucker Consultants began working with Andrea Durbin, CEO of ICOY, and the leadership of its member agencies to build targeted media relations and messaging campaigns. We assisted in writing new collateral describing programs and impact; provided counsel on building social media advocacy campaigns; and, helped write, edit and place Op-Eds and Letters to the Editor across the state. MTC positioned senior staff as expert resources throughout communities and with key legislators in the Illinois General Assembly. Beginning in mid-2016, we led all communications strategy and execution for Pay Now Illinois, the coalition of nearly 100 Illinois nonprofit agencies, organized by ICOY, suing state agencies and the Governor seeking payment for state contracts. MTC created messaging for the coalition, developed a Pay Now Illinois website, and coordinated all media outreach.

Impact

Leadership of ICOY member agencies and ICOY’s CEO are recognized as key voices on the importance of community alternatives for youth to the criminal justice and child welfare systems. These leaders are regularly cited across media and are authors of commentary throughout the state. The Pay Now Illinois campaign generated media coverage throughout all major media in the state and across the country, including the Associated Press, Bloomberg, NPR, and Reuters, and Andrea Durbin was a go-to resource for interviews and authored commentary. Importantly, the lawsuit and campaign – with its central message that paying agreed-upon contracts is a basic business obligation – were widely regarded as catalysts for a new budget agreement. The child welfare campaign helped educate the public and, especially, legislators on their responsibility to protect the safety, stability, and well-being of children and youth in care by having a system with adequate resources to serve them.