Chicago residents will soon be able to apply for a chance to receive $500 monthly checks. The Chicago Resilient Communities Pilot is a $31.5 million commitment from Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the City of Chicago as part of her effort to tackle poverty and put residents at the center of the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Five thousand city residents will be selected through an open application and a citywide lottery to receive the monthly stipend for twelve months, with no strings attached. The program ensures no restrictions on how recipients spend the money. The Chicago Resilient Communities Pilot assists people in poverty and empowers residents to best meet their financial needs and goals. There are four main goals for the pilot: to provide financial relief, improve residents’ well-being, transform the city’s human services, and build a field of practice. FOX 32 News reports that during a press conference, Lori Lightfoot touched on the program’s goals and how she’s “thrilled to get this program up and running.”

“As my team knows, I’m not a patient person. We need to get checks in the hands of folks as quickly as possible,” Chicago’s Mayor Lori Lightfoot said. “Cash is a simple and powerful way for governments to support residents who are working hard to regain stability and build a better life for themselves and their families.”

Applications open in April, but residents can visit Chicago’s website to sign up for updates. 

A local city program also offers monthly stipends to residents, but their focus is single moms enrolled in college. Book Club Chicago reports an Austin neighborhood-based nonprofit, New Moms, developed the Academic Coaching pilot. The program will give 25 mothers enrolled at City Colleges of Chicago $500 per month for technology and supplies for school, childcare, transportation assistance, and support from an academic coach. Their goal is to tackle the low graduation rates of single moms who lack access to well-needed resources. Senior Director Gabrielle Caverl-McNeal said the program aims to reduce single moms’ stress and support their academic journey.

“It only takes one thing to set someone back. Things like this can help reduce stress and enhance the possibility for them to persist and pursue their degree,” said Gabrielle Caverl-McNeal, New Mom’s senior director for employment and academic coaching. Additional information can be found on New Moms’ website.

It’s imperative for City of Chicago residents to use these stipends and spread the word to help someone in need.

Blavity U Ambassador Lashaunta Moore is a graduate student at Columbia College Chicago, studying entrepreneurship for creatives. Moore has a bachelor’s degree in media communication, and she’s also a freelance journalist and digital content producer.