Today, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced the Cook County Promise Guaranteed Income Pilot. The pilot is the nation’s largest publicly funded guaranteed income initiative at $42 million, and Cook County is the first government to commit to a permanent program after the completion of the pilot.
The Cook County Promise Guaranteed Income Pilot will send monthly payments of $500 to 3,250 residents for two years. Applications to participate in the pilot will open this fall.
The pilot will be funded by American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) dollars, part of the County’s $1 billion investment to help build a sustainable, affordable and equitable future for residents. These ARPA funds will have a transformative effect on the health, safety and quality of life for Cook County residents.
“Historically, both public and private institutions have been unwilling to directly invest in low-income people without significant restrictions attached. This red tape is in place not because any evidence shows that it is necessary, but rather because our society does not trust that people living in poverty have the character or ability to make good decisions for themselves,” President Preckwinkle said. “Cook County is reframing the way we think about government assistance and is proud to be leading the way in the American guaranteed income movement.”
County officials have committed to continuing the Cook County Promise Guaranteed Income Pilot after its. This program will add to the research and literature on Guaranteed Income and shed light on poverty in the suburbs in ways never before seen.
“Direct cash policies are key to unlocking our neighbors’ potential. We are proud to partner with Cook County and President Preckwinkle in the launch of the nation’s largest guaranteed income pilot right here in our backyard. We are hopeful this effort will prove how a guaranteed income should be a permanent fixture for every policymaker working to help uplift communities both locally and across the country,” said Harish I. Patel, Director of Economic Security for Illinois.
Participants must be adults living in Cook County, be income-eligible (household income at or below 250% of the Federal Poverty Guideline) and not be participants in other guaranteed income programs for the 24-month duration of the Cook County pilot. Unlike most of Cook County’s recovery initiatives and programming, participants from both the city and the suburbs will be able to apply and participate, however, the majority of the participant pool will be comprised of suburban residents. After the application window closes, participants will be selected through a lottery.
“Research shows that low- and moderate-income people spend unrestricted money wisely” said Xochitl Flores, Chief of the Bureau of Economic Development. “Long-term, the Cook County Promise Guaranteed Income Pilot will provide support which will lead to more financial stability as well as improved physical, emotional and social outcomes for our residents.”
Today’s announcement included a call for proposals for a Payment Administration Partner and an Outreach and In-person Application Assistance Partner for the Cook County Promise Guaranteed Income Pilot.
Informational webinars for both application opportunities will be held on Thursday, May 26. A session for interested Payment Administration Partners will take place from 11am to 12pm CT; a session for interested Outreach and In-Person Application Assistance Partners will take place from 3pm to 4pm CT. Please register by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
All application questions must be received by 5pm CT on Tuesday, May 31. Applications are due by 5pm CT on Friday, June 10.
“With the establishment of a publicly-funded program at a large scale, Cook County is showing that guaranteed income is an idea whose time has come. Thousands of residents will soon be free of the worry that they cannot feed their children or pay their electricity bill — and can instead focus on building a life not of surviving, but thriving,” said Michael Tubbs, Founder of Mayors for a Guaranteed Income and former mayor of Stockton, CA.
A major goal of the program is to learn how guaranteed income impacts residents and the local economy through an academic research partnership with the University of Chicago Inclusive Economy Lab and the Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice.
“We are thrilled to partner with Cook County on this important effort to expand economic opportunity for our community,” said Carmelo Barbaro, Executive Director of the Inclusive Economy Lab. “The Inclusive Economy Lab and the Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice are committed to research partnerships, like this one, that leverage our faculty expertise and the talents and energy of our students to help policymakers tackle pressing issues.”
The University of Chicago Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice and Inclusive Economy Lab will serve as the research and evaluation partners for Cook County in support of its guaranteed income pilot and multiyear plan to tackle racial and economic inequities. This robust partnership leverages the University’s core strength in research and teaching, as well as its convening power and thought leadership, to accomplish three primary goals: 1) measure the impact of this pilot on outcomes of policy interest; 2) amplify the voices of the pilots’ participants, their families, and their communities; 3) and convene public conversations that lift up evidence-based recommendations for improving the design of future cash assistance programs.
To learn more about the Cook County Promise Guaranteed Income Pilot, and to sign up for updates, visit their website at www.engagecookcounty.com/promise