College Student Advocates Press For MAP Funding As State Budget Impasse Continues

As Illinois enters its third month without a budget, college student advocates want state funds freed up for the Monetary Award Program (MAP).

The need-based grant program helps low-income Illinois students pay for tuition at more than 130 colleges and universities in the state.

With college students gearing up for fall classes, MAP grants for up to 130,000 eligible applicants this school year are entangled in the Springfield budget standoff.

As a result, there is "a lot of confusion among students and a lot of uncertainly as to whether they'll be able to afford to return to school this fall," said Eve Rips, Midwest director at Young Invincibles, a Millennial research and advocacy group.

"These students who aren't getting MAP funding are all truly in a place where paying for college is going to be very difficult," she added.

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What's The Status Of Women's Equality In Illinois?

Ahead of Women's Equality Day on Wednesday, a new study shows Illinois is the third most equal state for women. But don't get too cheery over the findings, independent experts say. 

WalletHub, the personal finance website, ranked all 50 U.S. states on gender equality in three areas: education, political empowerment and workplace environment. Illinois had the third best overall ranking, behind New York at No.2 and Hawaii at No. 1. Utah earned the worst ranking.

A leader with the Chicago-based advocacy group Women Employed was pleased to see Illinois come in third for women's equality. However, the ranking "doesn't mean things are primarily good for women in Illinois," stressed Women Employed's Associate Director Jenny Wittner.

"It just means that by certain measures (conditions are) better than other states," she said.

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'Moral Monday' Activists Protest Against State Budget Impasse, Block Traffic On Michigan Avenue (VIDEO)

Nearly two dozen protesters upset over the state budget stalemate were ticketed Monday morning for blocking traffic on Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago.

The "Moral Monday" demonstration brought over 100 protesters with Fair Economy Illinois, a group that supports "fair-share" state revenue options over deep budget cuts, to the street outside the investment firm 7wire Ventures.

Glen Tullman, the investment firm's co-founder and managing partner, donated to Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's campaign. Between March 2013 and October 2014, Tullman contributed $280,300 to Citizens for Rauner, Inc. He has also donated to Democrats in the past, including Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and former Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, according to state records.

Chanting "Rauner, Rauner, can't you see? Human need beats corporate greed," 20 protesters blocked traffic for about 20 minutes at Michigan Avenue and Illinois Street on the Magnificent Mile. They refused to disperse despite police orders and were issued citations for blocking the roadway, according to Chicago police.

"We are here to speak out against Gov. Rauner's inhumane budget cuts and our leaders in Springfield's unwillingness to propose any real and long-term revenue solutions that would end the crisis in Illinois once and for all," said Thomas Spano, a Jane Addams Senior Caucus member who participated in Monday's protest but not the civil disobedience.

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Chicago Aldermen, Advocates Release City Proposals To Strengthen Immigrant Integration

Chicago aldermen and immigrant advocates unveiled a list of proposals Tuesday aimed at improving the lives of immigrants across the city.

Issues of language access, legal representation, safety and services for immigrants are addressed in the Chicago Immigration Policy Working Group's six-point immigrant integration plan.

The newly-formed working group is comprised of three Chicago council members, Alds. Susan Sadlowski Garza (10th), Ricardo Munoz (22nd) and Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th), and 14 leading immigrant advocacy organizations such as the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, the Latino Policy Forum and the National Immigrant Justice Center.

"Two years ago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel stated that he is committed to making Chicago the most immigrant-friendly city in the United States," Ramirez-Rosa said at a Tuesday press conference. "As the Chicago Immigration Working Group, we share that commitment, and we're excited to get to work alongside the mayor to fulfill that goal."

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Education Activists Go On Hunger Strike Over Dyett High School's Future (VIDEO) (UPDATED)

Twelve supporters of revitalizing Chicago's Dyett High School campus began a hunger strike Monday morning as they continue their call for the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) system to adopt a long-proposed community plan to turn Dyett into a "global leadership and green technology" high school.

The Coalition to Revitalize Dyett High School, which created the plan to re-open Dyett as a global leadership and green technology school, spearheaded the hunger strike. The 12 hunger strikers, including community and faith leaders, education activists and public school parents, held their protest outside the now-closed school, located in the Washington Park neighborhood at 555 E. 51st St.

"We are tired of our voices not being heard," said hunger striker Jitu Brown with the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, one of many groups behind the Coalition to Revitalize Dyett High School. "There has to be accountability to the public for the destabilizing of schools in our community and the sabotage of our children's education."

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