I love the reaction we’ve received to the student videos released last week. Their amazing experiences with Dual Credit courses, and the bright futures they all have ahead of them in college and career, show the vast potential of these game-changing courses.

Those stories are inspiring. I know there are more just like them, or could be, if we work together and broaden access to advanced courses like Dual Credit.

That’s where Stand’s Dual Credit Advocacy Toolkit comes in. We released the toolkit a year ago in the hopes of giving Illinoisans at every level of the education system – parents, students, educators, administrators, community members – the tools they need to grow Dual Credit’s impact in their school. Folks have put it to use and added to their own stories.

I hope you’ll take a few moments to explore the Dual Credit Advocacy Toolkit. It offers a step-by-step guide to bring Dual Credit to your school, grow an existing program, or even help guide educators through the steps of gaining required certification. It really has something for everyone!

Dig into the Toolkit and use it to add to your own Dual Credit story. I can’t wait to hear what you accomplish. As always, if we can help lend a hand, please reach out. We’re always happy to help grow Dual Credit across the state.

19 children and 2 adults were shot dead yesterday at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. The children were second, third, and fourth-graders. Both adults were teachers at the school.

In the nine and a half years since 20 first-graders and 6 teachers were massacred at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, there have been 900 incidents of gunfire on school grounds and nearly 3,500 mass shootings.

A week and a half ago, a white supremacist opened fire at a supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Buffalo, N.Y., killing 10 people who were grocery shopping on a Saturday afternoon.

The United States is the only country on earth with frequent mass shootings. The only one.

Why do we stand for this carnage?

After mass shootings in other countries, elected leaders put an end to them by passing common sense laws.

Here, despite overwhelming public support for common sense gun safety laws, lawmakers are unwilling to stand up to the gun lobby.

Will this time be different? Or will Republican members of Congress once again block broadly popular legislation that would prevent mass shootings?

It depends on whether we — the overwhelming majority of Americans who support universal background checks and oppose the sale of weapons of war — insist this time be different.

It’s that simple.

Please sign up with Everytown for Gun Safety today and keep using your voice and your vote until politicians prioritize lives over the gun lobby.

Today is the day. The deadline to apply for the City of Chicago program that will give 5,000 qualified residents $500 per month for a year is today, Friday, May 13 at 11:59pm. Apply now if you haven’t already.

There are some eligibility requirements for people looking to participate. Those requirements are:

  • You reside in the City of Chicago AND
  • You are 18 years of age or older AND
  • You have experienced economic hardship related to COVID-19 AND
  • Your household income level falls at or below 250% of the Federal Poverty Level

Don’t miss this opportunity for $500 per month for 12 months, no strings attached. Be sure to apply now.

We want every eligible Chicagoan to apply before today’s deadline. We believe in policies that promote economic security and economic justice.

If you are eligible, I hope you will complete your application before the deadline. And please share the application link with your friends and family who might also be interested in applying.

This is Teacher Appreciation Week, and an important reminder that in these times of “culture wars” to consider what more we can do to support educators.

May I suggest that you read the recent op-ed co-authored by Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers, and Stand’s Executive Officer Jonah Edelman. In this piece, published by Time.com, Weingarten and Edelman push back against the arguments being used to try to undermine public education.

“Just as extremists have used the Big Lie about the 2020 presidential election to undermine American democracy, far-right advocates of privatizing public education are using Big Lies to undermine public schools. Supporters of public schools must see these ugly attacks for what they are and take a stand against them.”

Edelman and Weingarten highlight examples of courageous, successful efforts by parents and the public to strongly support public schools and stand up for students’ success and well-being.

They point out that, just as we are seeing in real-time with Putin’s war on Ukraine, “unchecked disinformation and dehumanization cause untold damage and suffering.”

During this Week of Teacher Appreciation and every week, please thank those who are educating our next generation and consider the ways you can stand for children.

$500 a month with no strings attached might sound too good to be true. In this case, it isn’t.

To help Chicago residents recover from the pandemic’s economic impact, the City is giving 5,000 families $500 per month for 12 months, with no limitations on how the money can be spent. Chicago families will decide how best to meet their needs and goals with the money, no one else.

This pilot program is now accepting applications, but act now to be considered. The application window closes at 11:59pm on Friday, May 13. Apply now!

Chicago residents who meet all of the following eligibility requirements are eligible to participate:

  • You reside in the City of Chicago AND
  • You are 18 years of age or older AND
  • You have experience economic hardship related to COVID-19 AND
  • Your household income level falls at or below 250% of the Federal Poverty Level

Within days of the application opening, the Chicago Sun-Times reports, more than 100,000 Chicagoans have applied for the program. You can find more details about program qualification on the registration page. The program is run by the City of Chicago, not Stand for Children. We wanted to pass along this information because we believe in policies that break down the barriers that have led to economic insecurity for far too long.

Programs like have been rolled out in areas across California, including the city of Stockton. Results from that city’s program included residents who received the guaranteed income were healthier, showed less depression and anxiety, and went from part-time to full-time employment at more than twice the rate of those who didn’t.

I hope you’ll learn more about this opportunity and, if you qualify, apply today. Share the link with your friends and family who might also be interested in applying.

I’ve been so lucky in my life to be where I am today. I am deeply passionate about advocating for my family and my community. Now that I have managed to create better opportunities for myself, I am using my voice to help other families, not turn my back on them. But it wasn’t always like this.

I amplify my voice every chance I get because I am a reflection of what good can come from a broken place. I have experienced a few cycles of life where I fell behind. I have lived below the poverty line. I know those struggles. I know many in our community are struggling now.

For many families in that position, $600 can be the thing that stands between them and homelessness. It’s something that could help pay for after school programs that keep their children safe.

Right now, our leaders have the opportunity to fulfill the promises that they made to the constituents to make their lives a degree better because of their leadership. Expanding Illinois’ Earned Income Credit and creating a statewide Child Tax Credit would give over 4.8 million Illinoisans a refund of at least $600 (or more!) come tax time. It’s simply the right thing to do at a time like this.

I recently spoke at a rally with our Coalition to Make EIC Work partners, where I told my story and urged legislators to support this change. I hope you’ll join me and tell your legislators to support the bill in the General Assembly to give support to Illinois families that need it most.

Access to resources like this is what helped me and my family climb out of poverty. Let’s stand together and urge our legislators to do the right thing and make sure we’re all doing the right thing for Illinois families.

The New Year brings with it a sense of new things to accomplish and new places to engage. I hope you’ll take this time to engage with an important survey from CPS.

The district continues gathering community feedback on how they measure school quality. They need to hear from you today!

This survey is voluntary and responses are all anonymous. Not only that, but it should take you less than 10 minutes to complete. CPS recently extended the deadline to complete the survey, but act fast – the survey closes on Tuesday, January 18.

Parents and community members have important insights to share, so I hope you’ll take a few minutes from your busy day and add your voice to the discussion. Let’s take this opportunity to engage in a meaningful way!

As Stand for Children Illinois’ Community & Family Partnerships Director, I am thankful for the connections and relationships I have built in the communities that we serve. Also, I feel very strongly that it is my job to share resources with our communities and families. So, it was both a privilege and honor to lead our COVID Safety Care campaign.

I felt it necessary for folks in the community to hear directly from me because I am a COVID survivor and COVID long hauler who continues to live with the long-term effects of this virus. Having COVID was terrifying, and, some days, the terror is still there. For sure, the physical effects linger, and this is not a disease I would wish on my worst enemy. You can hear more of my story in these videos we created while in the field during the campaign.

Thanks to a grant from the Chicagoland Vaccine Partnership, Stand volunteers and staff embarked on a door-to-door campaign in some of the hardest hit areas of the South Side of Chicago. Over the course of three weeks, the COVID Care team went to over 2,000 doors where we shared resources about COVID variants, passed out individually wrapped cloth masks, and distributed information about vaccine and testing sites. I will never forget the conversation I had with the gentlemen seated outside the CHA complex in Washington Park. Admittedly, there were challenges running a door-to-door campaign during a global pandemic, but I would do it again, because we authentically connected with communities hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

To me, the COVID Safety Care campaign was different than other “shots in arms” campaigns. Although, I am vaccinated and personally, I would prefer for folks to get vaccinated, I understand that there is still a lot of hesitation about vaccines. So, our team worked hard to get the most up-to-date information about both vaccine and testing sites. Like me, every volunteer of the COVID Care team had either survived COVID themselves, had loved ones with diagnoses, or unfortunately lost a loved one from COVID. Therefore, I knew it was vital that folks most impacted by this pandemic needed to stand alongside with me to share resources with communities most impacted.

To the members of the COVID Care Team, I truly appreciate you. Thank you for braving the elements, prioritizing safety, and sharing your COVID stories with their communities.

I recently crossed off an item on my to-do list, and I hope you’ll join me by making sure your voice is heard as CPS gathers community feedback on how they measure school quality.

This helps the district know what’s working, find and fix things that aren’t, and be transparent with our Chicago community.

Add your voice by completing this short survey today.

The survey is voluntary, and responses are anonymous. It should take you less than 10 minutes to complete. The survey closes on Thursday, December 23.

After completing the survey, you can enter to win a $50 Amazon gift card!

Parents and community members have important insights to share, so I hope you’ll join me in speaking up as part of this important process.

Exactly 66 years ago today, on December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger on a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Her act of courage has inspired countless others to make the world a better and fairer place, including those of us at Stand for Children.

Ms. Parks was the honorary co-chair of Stand for Children Day, this organization’s founding event. She challenged the over 300,000 individuals attending that event in 1996, saying, “If I can sit down for justice, you can stand up for children.” Hence comes the name of this organization.

At Stand, we strive each and every day to live up to Rosa Parks’ inspiring words. And so, on this anniversary of the day she sat down in the name of justice, let’s rededicate ourselves to standing for children.