Chicago/ Politics & Govt
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Published on April 23, 2024
Chicago Mayor's Office Launches $5 Million Grant to Support Students With Disabilities Post-COVIDSource: Google Street View

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson has teamed up with the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities and Ada S. McKinley Community Services to roll out a new grant program designed to help children with disabilities. The Diverse Learners Recovery Fund, backed by a hefty $5 million purse, will endow thousands of K-12 students—specifically, those dealt a rough hand by the COVID-19 crisis—with one-time payments, a move aimed to ease the financial strain on their families.

Eligibility for the grants will be determined through a lottery system, potentially benefiting up to 8,000 students. "When I ran for Mayor, I made a commitment to do everything in my power to invest in our young people," Mayor Johnson said, "Our young people with disabilities face unique challenges, but we are committed to their success and these grants are one way through which we are able to directly invest in them."

In an effort to support as many households as possible, the program allows for a maximum of $500 for one student and $1,000 for a two-student household. The funds come with no strings attached, and won't tangle with any government assistance benefits families might be receiving. There's also no restriction on how the windfall can be spent, whether it's for medical bills, educational tools, or other essential aids.

"The Diverse Learners Recovery Fund is part of our ongoing commitment to making Chicago the most accessible and inclusive city in the world," Commissioner Rachel Arfa, of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, declared. Moreover, Jamal Malone, CEO of Ada S. McKinley Community Services, underscored the ongoing fiscal, educational, and socio-emotional challenges brought by the pandemic on families with disabled students, stating, "These funds can be used to pay for medical expenses, supplemental education resources, or other necessary accommodations."

Families hoping to tap into the fund must meet several criteria including residing in Chicago, having a household income within 300% of the Federal Poverty Level, and having a student with a recognized disability enrolled in K-12 education. Details and the online application are available at Time is of the essence though, eligibility isn't a surefire ticket to funds, it's all down to the luck of the draw.