We’ve all heard what they say about Illinois. “Elected officials are corrupt.” “The business climate is horrible.” “Citizens are leaving.” “Our kids are choosing to go to college out of state.”
It’s all negative news that our neighbor states enjoy perpetuating, and it has, in many ways, become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Illinois has been amid an identity crisis for a while now. For too long we have let others define who and what we are, and not always in the best light. As Illinoisans, we should be proud of our state. From our heritage, our industry, our innovation and our people, we have been and continue to be a world leader.
For more than a decade, various groups ranging from economic developers to op-ed writers have sporadically worked on changing the negative messaging. They all believed it was time to take back our narrative and remind ourselves and others why Illinois is a remarkable place to call home, do business and visit. Unfortunately, past efforts have been fractured and ended when the volunteer enthusiasm dies.
That changed in late 2019 when Janet Mathis, Craig Coil, Jim Nowlan and David Dyer got together and engaged others from across the state in vetting and starting a new nonprofit that is, at its core, a positivity campaign. The purpose is to bring together Illinois citizens and groups ranging from regional planning organizations to YMCAs and electric utilities to farm bureaus in order to amplify recognition of Illinois’ positive news.
Elevate Illinois (Elevate) was officially formed in 2020 as a 501(c)(3). Elevate is the apolitical, non-geographic-centric, all-encompassing place to share the myriad of positive stories that are happening across Illinois.
The launch of Elevate Illinois’ website, blog and social media platforms occurred in January. The website (elevateillinois.org) encourages grassroots sharing by citizens, organizations and others of stories, videos and photos for use in future Elevate Illinois blogs and social media posts.
This effort is widely backed, including by Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives President/CEO Duane Noland. Other supporters include former Governor Jim Edgar, Group O founder Bob Ontiveros and former University of Illinois President Bob Easter.
Elevate Illinois’ board of directors reflects the state’s vast diversity. The eight members are from locations across the state from East Moline to Carbondale and Okawville to Decatur. The board includes four men and four women; three democrats, three republicans and two independents; racial and age diversity; and a variety of career and personal experiences.
To be successful, Elevate Illinois needs everyone to do the following:
- Like and follow Elevate Illinois on Facebook at facebook.com/ElevateIL
- Follow Elevate Illinois on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/company/elevate-illinois
- Follow Elevate Illinois on Twitter at twitter.com/ElevateIllinois
- Use #elevateillinois on your own positive social media posts about the state.
- Go to elevateillinois.org and submit your own stories, photos and videos to be shared on the site’s blog and in Elevate Illinois social media posts.
- Share this information with all of your social and other networks and ask them to do all of above.
We hope you’ll join the movement. Together, we can Elevate Illinois.