001collinsMiddle school students will be required to study civics as part of their course work under a new law passed by State Senator Jacqueline Collins that takes effect today.

“Current events teach us the importance and impact of civic engagement at every age,”   Collins said. “In the malicious action and shameful inaction of our president, we are given daily reminders that to be a society ruled by laws, not men, we must be vigilant and active. That starts with education about our system of government and our own responsibility to it.”

Under the new law, Illinois schools will be required to include civics courses in their curricula for 6th, 7th and 8th graders.

The measure was House Bill 2265, which passed the General Assembly last May and was signed into law the following August.

CHICAGO – Following Gov. JB Pritzker’s announcement today that his administration will launch a $636 million Business Interruption Grants program, State Senator Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago) urged local business owners to apply.

“I applaud the governor’s action today, and am gratified to see that one large part of it will be aimed at businesses in disproportionately impacted areas with recent significant property damage,” Collins said. “This shows an understanding of what business owners in these areas are going through and what help they need to stay afloat in light of the once-in-a-lifetime hardship they now face.”

The Illinois Dept. of Commerce and Economic Opportunity will launch a first round of $60 million BIG grant funding for small businesses harmed by the pandemic, many of whom have also seen damage as a result of recent civil unrest. The funds are intended to help small businesses stay viable through the pandemic, help offset the costs of months of being shut down or restricted in their operations, and ensure they have the resources to reopen safely in the near future.

Among other specific programs, DCEO plans to disburse $20 million across 1,000 grants of $20,000 each to businesses in disproportionately impacted area with recent significant property damage. Those who qualify for these grants include:

  • Businesses with under $2 million in revenue in 2019, or pro-rated amount if in business for less than a year. Such business must have in operation for at least three months prior to March 2020.
  • Applicants who can attest to experiencing costs or losses of at least $20,000 since the Stay at Home order was put in place on March 21, 2020 due to closure or reduced operations as a result of the COVID pandemic.
  • Businesses within a subset of DIAs that have experienced recent property damage, exacerbating the economic impacts of COVID.

DCEO and its grant administration partners are scheduled to post applications this week for review and questions, with applications being accepted June 24 through July 1. Applicants who are selected for the grants should hear from grant administration partners by early July, and grants are scheduled to be disbursed by the end of July.

Following a report by WBEZ showing a vast disparity in mortgage lending between predominantly white and predominantly black neighborhoods in Chicago, State Senator Jacqueline Collins called for action to induce more equitable lending practices.

“WBEZ’s report shows an overhead view of what many families in Chicago have seen from the ground: That banks are denying many mortgage loans to black Chicagoans who are prospective homeowners,” said Collins, D-Chicago. “As they reported, these disparities cannot be explained away by factors as simple as location or a home’s size. Even considering such differences, the report shows this inequality.”

WBEZ’s in-depth report details how prospective homeowners in predominantly black communities have been so shut out of mortgage lending that one single predominantly white neighborhood in Chicago has received more home loans than every black community combined. On the whole, WBEZ’s analysis shows that for every $1 banks loaned in Chicago’s white neighborhoods, they have loaned 12 cents in the city’s black neighborhoods and 13 cents in Latino areas.

“This is redlining through different means, and redlining is the outgrowth of racist policies that continue to undermine communities of color, and in particular the black community,” Collins said. “I will explore legislative means for addressing this disparity. There is no justice until we erase the last red line.”

jacquiCHICAGO – State Senator Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago) renewed her call for the state to create a testing site easily accessible to the residents of Auburn Gresham, a community with one of the highest infection rates of COVID-19 in the state, and the home of the first known woman in Illinois to lose her life to the deadly pandemic.

“This pandemic has made clear that the residents in Auburn Gresham are more vulnerable due to lack of fresh food access and health care and suffer disproportionally with the underlying chronic conditions of asthma, hypertension, diabetes, cancer and kidney failure,” Collins said. “Patricia Frieson, the first woman in Illinois to lose her life to COVID-19, was a unique and beloved person who nonetheless was far from the only one in these dire straits.”

Auburn Gresham is located in the socio-economically vulnerable zip code of 60620 that as of April 30 has seen 683 cases of COVID-19, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. Many of the residents of Auburn Gresham are the essential workers who cannot afford to shelter-in-place because they are the bus drivers, store clerks, janitors and nursing home employees.

The Chicago Tribune recently reported on the 30-year lifespan difference between North Side and South Side residents. Collins said for residents who may lack transportation options, other testing sites have become all but inaccessible.

“Gov. Pritzker has made admirable strides in increasing the state’s testing capacity but until we have a comprehensive plan of testing, tracing and treatment, there’s no way to mitigate the damage being done in the community,” Collins said.

Auburn Gresham is home to a large population of senior citizens who live in a number of senior buildings dotting the community.

“In Auburn Gresham, a neighborhood where few indeed are privileged with work that allows them to telecommute, these tests are needed to let essential workers know when they need to self-isolate and protect their fellow members of the community from the virus,” Collins said.

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