Evanston aldermen Monday are scheduled to vote on creating an Equity and Empowerment Commission.

The proposed ordinance text says the prupose of the commisison would be “to identify and eradicate inequities” in the city, including in its services, programs, human resources practices and decision-making processes.

The ordinance specifies that the commission’s members “must reflect the demographic makeup” of the city’s population “including but not limited to: Race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, age, source of income, physical disability or mental disability.”

So our readers can monitor the city’s success in achieving those membership goals, we’ve put together some data on the composition of Evanston’s population in those categories.

Except where noted, the data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.


Evanston’s population is 67.8 percent white, 16.9 percent black and 9.5 percent Asian. Also, 3.6 percent identify as multi-racial and 2.1 percent identify as being of some other race.


The Pew Research Center on Religion and American Life, in a 2014 study, broke down the religious identities of residents of the Chicago metro area as 35 percent Protestant, 34 percent Catholic, 3 percent other Christian, 3 percent Jewish, 2 percent Muslim, and 22 percent unaffiliated, with the remainder being persons of other faiths.

National origin

The Census Bureau says 80.8 percent of Evanstonians are native born and 19.2 percent are foreign born.

Regarding country of ancestry, it says 16.26 percent identify as German, 12.88 percent as Irish, 8.10 percent as English, 6.31 as Polish, 4.63 percent as Italian 3.89 percent as West Indian, 3.88 percent as Russian, and 3.77 percent as “American.” Another 19 percent list a total of 19 other countries of origin and 21.2 percent didn’t indicate a country of origin.


The Census Bureau says 47.4 percent of Evanstonians are male and 52.6 percent are female.

Sexual orientation and gender identity

A Gallup Poll published in February says 3.9 percent of Illlinois residents responded yes to the question, “Do you, personally, identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.” We haven’t found a source for Evanston-specific data on this category.

Marital status

The Census Bureau says 40.2 percent of Evanston residents live in married-couple households.


The Census Bureau says 19.8 percent of Evanston residents are under 18 years old, 16.2 percent are between 18 and 24 years old, 27.1 percent are between 25 and 44 years old, 12.1 percent are between 45 and 54 years old, 11.9 percent are between 55 and 64 years old, 6.8 percent are 65 to 74 years old, 2.4 percent are 75 to 84 years old and 2.5 percent are 85 years of age or older.

Source of income

The Census Bureau says 10.3 percent of Evanston households receive some form of public assistance, 81.1 percent have earnings, 22.7 percent receive social security benefits and 13.3 percent receive other retirement income. The percentages total more than 100 percent because some households have multiple income sources.

Physical or mental disability

The Census Bureau says 8.4 percent of Evanston residents have a mental or physical disability. 

Whether the mayor, in finding nine members of the new commission, will be able to check all the boxes required by the ordinance remains to be seen.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Good God!  Wasn’t someone

    Good God!  Wasn’t someone just hired (at a salary most Evanstonians will never make) to look into this stuff?

    1. Yes …

      … and the new commission is meant to provide input for the new staff person in assessing how well the city is doing and how it could do better.

      The commission members won’t be paid — so they won’t add directly to the effort’s cost. They may make more work for the equity and empowerment coordinator, though.

      — Bill

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