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, 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.

“How can I help?” Four magical words that I need to remember to say more often to friends, family, and colleagues.

Here’s how six volunteers are helping Stand Illinois fight for educational equity and justice. Perhaps they may spark in you an idea for helping others; these folks definitely inspire me.

Melissa Hostetter is a first-grade teacher who is active in the Illinois Early Literacy Coalition. She’s playing a critical role in increasing awareness – including among legislators – around the reasons why Illinois must step up its game in early literacy. Melissa recently spoke at “Literacy & Justice for All,” an event hosted by the Coalition. (Her presentation begins at 10:56). Melissa explains in an incredibly approachable way about achievable policy changes to support reading instruction for Illinois students.

Stand’s COVID Safety Care campaign is targeting some of the areas that have been hardest hit by COVID-19. The care team went to over 2,000 doors in three weeks, sharing resources for getting the facts about COVID. None of this would have been possible without the help of good people like the amazing Nastassia BallardKeith Wilson, and Savannah Snyder. (They’re pictured with Stand staff member Tommorrow Snyder.)

As we celebrate Veterans’ Day this week, we say a special thank you to Keith for his service to our country. Keith is an Army veteran who served in the Middle East. Our hugs to you, Keith.

Next up, amazing parents and students are volunteering with the Learn from History Coalition. In order for students to create a better society, schools need to provide a thorough, accurate, and fact-based history education. Among the many contributions made by Laurie Goldstein to this effort is sharing her story with the Illinois Times. Equally powerful are efforts from Jennifer Lind, who was a guest on the Beyond the Beltway radio program.

Please also join me in congratulating three staff members for their recent promotions.

As our Government Affairs Director for over 10 years, Jessica Handy played a key role in every education-related policy that Stand has fought for, while also devoting significant time to our bi-partisan political work. Jessica has been so motivated by the amazing people she met through our recent early literacy work that she has begun Orton-Gillingham training so she can tutor children who struggle with reading. She will transition to the role of Stand’s Policy Director where she will continue to lead the Early Literacy Coalition and focus on policy and implementation matters. Meanwhile, Aimee Galvin, is stepping into the Government Affairs Director role. She’s more than hit the ground running already, building off her political, agency-level, and coalition efforts for the last several years at Stand.

Tommorrow Snyder has been promoted to Community and Family Partnerships Director. The title is long because her reach is so far; Tommorrow’s work with policymakers, parents, and community members is always impactful, innovative, and honest.

If we can help you, please let me know. If you would like to help us, well, please also let me know.

For the better part of my time at Stand, a huge focus of mine has been improving the course offerings and opportunities for Illinois high school students in the most equitable way possible. From career and technical education to dual credit classes, I’ve been eating, sleeping, and breathing this stuff for years.

And today I’m proud to announce our latest project: the Dual Credit Advocacy Toolkit. Take a look for yourself!

This toolkit makes it possible for parents, educators, administrators, and community members to advocate for better dual credit opportunities in their school communities. Not only that, but it offers each person an individualized advocacy plan depending on their dual credit goal.

So whether you’re a teacher looking to get certified to teach dual credit at your school or a parent looking to make dual credit classes more affordable in your district, this advocacy toolkit has a plan for you. With just a few clicks and by telling us your goal, the Stand Advocacy Toolkit provides you with the steps and tips to help you achieve your advocacy goal.

This toolkit is the culmination of work put in by so many parents, students, and educators whose collective experience and dedication to equity made this possible. It’s through their work that we compiled these resources in a useful manner. We thank them and the Joyce Foundation for their continued support of our dual credit work and this toolkit.

It’s my hope, and the hope of all of us here at Stand, that the Stand Dual Credit Advocacy Toolkit provides the resources you need to grow your school’s dual credit programming. Working together, I know that we can improve the outlook for Illinois students across the state.