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Fund provides $3,000 to Black families with an ancestral connection to Evanston
More than two dozen families selected to receive $3,000 through the Evanston Equitable Recovery Fund have received their first of 10 $300 monthly payments. The fund was created by the national nonprofit Family Independence Initiative (FII), which has invested in families and communities across the country for 20 years.
“I’m just grateful that this came about. It put me in a position where I can meet my responsibilities and still hold on to my dignity and I think that’s important,” said one of the fund recipients.
Eligibility requirements for the Equitable Recovery Fund mirror those for the city’s historic reparations program, which was approved last month. Additional funds are still available and the application will re-open this week. There are no restrictions on how families can use the money.
Angela, another fund recipient, was excited to learn she was selected. “I was like ‘yes!’ I was so happy! Then I started thinking about what I could do. I could maybe pay for some new windows. I can do things that I need to do but never have the money to do. So it helps. Every little bit helps. It’s definitely appreciated.”
FII invested $75,000 in the initiative and launched it with support from Economic Security for Illinois (ESIL). They will share learnings with city officials.
“I’ve heard from residents who have begun to receive their cash benefits and use them in various ways, including preparing for homeownership and some for more immediate quality of life upgrades,” said Fifth Ward Alderman Robin Rue Simmons, who chairs the City of Evanston’s Reparations Subcommittee. “FII’s investment, coupled with ESIL’s partnership, is helping us accelerate our goals in Evanston as we move forward incrementally but urgently towards repair for our Black residents.”
“At FII, we trust and invest in families experiencing poverty, and recognize that Black communities are disproportionately impacted not because of poor choices, but because of years of systemic racism,” said Tiarra Comer, Interim Partnership Director at FII. “From our 20 years of experience, we know that giving families unrestricted cash not only benefits the families themselves, but their communities, too – their neighbors, friends and others in their network. We look forward to learning from these families and sharing the findings not only with City officials in Evanston, but also with policymakers across the country.”
“Unrestricted cash works because people know best what they need. We applaud the City of Evanston for partnering with FII to learn from this fund, which places cash – and trust – directly in residents’ hands,” said Harish I. Patel, director of Economic Security for Illinois.
The fund was designed for 25 households. However, because only 16 were selected during the original application period, FII will re-open the application from April 28 to May 7 to fill the remaining slots, using a lottery process to randomly select recipients. Only one application per household will be accepted, and applicants must prove that they or an ancestor lived in Evanston between1919 and 1969.
Funds will be distributed through FII’s UpTogether technology platform, which also provides tools families can use to support each other in achieving their goals.
About Family Independence Initiative
Family Independence Initiative highlights, accelerates and invests in the initiative people in financially under-resourced communities are taking to improve their lives. We use the power of information – compelling data and personal success stories – to transform stereotypes, beliefs and policies. Together, with our members and partners, we are championing a community-led movement to boost long-term economic and social mobility in communities that have been undervalued and underinvested in for far too long.
About Economic Security for Illinois
Economic Security for Illinois is a non-partisan non-profit advocating for bold policy solutions that work for working people. We promote ideas that will put money in people’s pockets.