• Bennett applauds 50 Champaign-Urbana businesses selected to receive BIG grants

    Sen. Scott BennettCHAMPAIGN – In a victory for the Champaign-Urbana business community, Business Interruption Grants have been awarded to 50 local businesses severely impacted by the COVID-19 closures, State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) announced Thursday.

    “Our small business community continues to be hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis,” Bennett said. “These grants offer assistance to businesses at a time they need it most, and hopefully will allow them to get back on their feet.”

    Businesses from the Champaign-Urbana area received a combined $910,000 in grants. Grant recipients span a wide range of industries, including restaurants, retail, personal care services and more.

  • Bennett announces mentoring grant for Danville Public Library

    danville libr 081120DANVILLE— The Danville Public Library has been chosen to receive a $22,479 grant from the Illinois Secretary of State to help provide technology and mentoring to local young people, State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) announced Tuesday.

    “Peer mentorship can be extremely important for young people to achieve personal growth,” Bennett said. “This grant will give at-risk youth the tools they need to be successful in life with the guidance and support of a mentor.”

    The Danville Public Library received this grant to support Project Next Generation (PNG), a mentoring program established by Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White to help middle and high school students develop technological skills, achieve success through project-based learning, and gain life skills such as effective communication, goal-setting and conflict resolution.

    The secretary of state awarded $559,358 in 2021 PNG grants to 28 public libraries statewide. Grants are awarded to libraries that serve culturally diverse, low-income and underserved populations.

    Funds were provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

  • Construction on I-72 begins Aug. 12, Bennett cautions motorists

    I72 champaign 081120CHAMPAIGN –State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is urging motorists to use caution as construction begins on Interstate 72 between White Heath (Exit 169) and Interstate 57 at Champaign (Exits 182A-B). 

    “It’s critical that we keep moving forward with road projects to help improve our community’s transportation infrastructure,” Bennett said. “These investments are essential to keeping people safe and giving the economy a much-needed boost.”

    The $8.3 million Rebuild Illinois project involves 11 miles of pavement patching and resurfacing and will require lane closures starting Aug. 12, with one lane open in each direction at all times. Weather permitting, work on this project is expected to be complete by the end of November. 

    Bennett is warning motorists to expect delays and allow extra time for trips through this area. He is also encouraging motorists to avoid the work area when feasible and consider using alternate routes. Drivers are urged to drive cautiously in and near work zones, and to always buckle up and put phones down. 

    “It is important for everyone to do their part to be mindful of workers and improve work zone safety,” Bennett said. “Driving too fast may shave a minute off your travel time, but it could cost a worker their life. Please stay alert in construction zones.” 

    To view area construction details, visit IDOT’s traveler information map on

  • Bennett supports new law protecting front-line workers

    maskedworker1 080720CHAMPAIGN – A measure co-sponsored by State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) that increases public employee benefits, protects retail workers and expands collective bargaining rights was signed into law Friday.

    “Front-line workers have put their own wellbeing on the line to provide essential services during this crisis,” Bennett said. “This new law ensures workers are properly protected as we continue to battle COVID-19.”

    Certain state employees, including firefighters, law enforcement and paramedics, would be eligible for an additional 60 days of paid disability leave if their injury recovery has been hindered by difficulties accessing treatment due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

    To recognize the essential role retail workers have taken on during this public health emergency, battery of a retail worker would be enhanced to aggravated battery if the worker was performing duties like relaying directions for health care or safety. The enhancement would also set in if the act is committed during a declared disaster or state of emergency due to a public health emergency, and for an additional six months after the declaration. 

    “Workers do not deserve harassment for enforcing state-issued safety guidelines,” Bennett said. “Expanding legal protections for workers is the right thing to do.”


    Senate Bill 471 is effective immediately.

  • State awards $2.3 million grant for expansions, renovations at Danville Area Community College

    danvillecc 080720DANVILLE – Danville Area Community College (DACC) is set to receive $2.3 million for infrastructure improvements as part of the state’s Rebuild Illinois capital plan, State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) announced Thursday.

    “From workforce training to preparing students to advance their higher education, community colleges serve multiple missions,” Bennett said. “During these difficult economic times, I’m pleased to see these funds coming to Danville to support our area community college.”

    DACC will use the funds to remodel the Clock Tower Center and for rehabilitation of the Ornamental Horticulture Building, including additions to the greenhouse.

    “Investing in vital infrastructure is key to creating good jobs and promoting full economic recovery,” Bennett said. “The state’s investment in DACC will help ensure the college remains strong during these uncertain times.”

    In total, the state awarded $103.5 million in grants to 15 community colleges throughout the state through the Rebuild Illinois capital plan. Each community college will also receive an additional $34.5 million in local investments, bringing the total commitment to $138 million.

  • Bennett supports new mental health programs coming to Illinois

    mentalhealth 080620CHAMPAIGN— In response to the increased need for mental health services during the COVID-19 pandemic, State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is pleased to announce new programs from the Illinois Department of Human Services to support individuals in crisis.

    “As the pandemic wears on, people are continuing to face mental health challenges,” Bennett said. “It’s encouraging to see these new programs will be available to people in our community who may need additional support at this time.” 

    IDHS introduced three new programs Monday to help Illinoisans struggling with mental health, developed in coordination with community mental health centers and nontraditional service providers across the state.

    The first new program, the Living Room Program, is designed specifically for those in need of a crisis respite program to divert crises and break the cycle of psychiatric hospitalization. It provides a safe, inviting, home-like atmosphere where people can calmly process a crisis event while learning how to avoid a future crisis.

    The Transitional Living Centers Program is a housing resource for people with mental illnesses who are in need of a place to stay while they work to find permanent housing.

    Additionally, the Transitional Community Care and Support Programs offer assistance to current patients of state-operated psychiatric hospitals who are preparing to be discharged. It will include funding for non-traditional supports, such as cell phones, food, clothing, transportation and other resources that are necessary for individuals to succeed as they transition back into communities.

    Individuals seeking help from the Living Room Program may be referred by first responders or medical professionals. Participants of the other two programs will be referred by IDHS and other providers. Anyone who thinks they may benefit from these programs should talk to their mental health provider.

    For more information and to find additional mental health resources, click here.

  • Bennett urges residents to wear face masks

    bennett masks 080420CHAMPAIGN - State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is reminding residents to wear face coverings to help slow the spread of coronavirus. 

    “You can keep yourself and others around you safe and healthy by wearing a face mask,” Bennett said. “In the grocery store and other places where social distancing may be difficult, wearing a mask can add an extra layer of protection.”

    According to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), everyone over the age of 2 who can medically tolerate a face covering must wear one in a public place when unable to maintain a safe distance from others. 

    Masks should cover your nose and mouth, fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face, be secured with ties or ear loops, and include multiple layers of fabric.

    “No one is immune to this virus,” Bennett said. “Please continue to follow the health and safety guidelines put in place by the public health experts to reduce the spread of COVID-19.” 

    For more guidance on use of masks, Bennett encourages residents to visit the IDPH website at

  • Bennett encourages child care providers to apply for grants

    childcare mask 073020CHAMPAIGN – To ensure parents returning to work can trust their children are in good hands, State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is urging child care providers to apply for Child Care Restoration Grants to help their businesses cope with pandemic-related losses. 

    “Working parents need child care to do their jobs,” Bennett said. “While child care providers are dealing with the consequences of this crisis, this grant will help them safely reopen after months of financial distress.” 

  • Bennett highlights local schools set to receive grants to support future educators

    TeacherCHAMPAIGN – In an effort to recruit and support future educators, State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is excited to announce nine local schools will receive Education Career Pathways Grants from the Illinois State Board of Education.

    “Teachers play an important role in our society and have the power to bring about change in a student’s life,” Bennett said. “This grant is an opportunity to support diversity in the teaching workforce, which will contribute to students’ desire to learn and overall performance in the classroom.”

    The Education for Employment System #330 in Champaign has been awarded $85,450, which will be distributed to nine high schools in Champaign County to assist these schools in developing Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs to prepare students for careers in education.

    CTE programs help students develop technical and employability skills while strengthening their core academic abilities to enable them to pursue higher education opportunities and succeed in the workforce. Students in CTE programs also have the opportunity to earn dual credit or credentials and certifications from partner institutions before graduating high school.

    The programs will place a special focus on recruiting underrepresented students into education careers to help meet the high demand for teachers of color across Illinois.

    Nearly $2 million in total funding has been awarded to 11 Education for Employment Systems statewide to recruit and support future educators at 62 high schools and vocational centers across the state. For a full list of grant recipients or to learn more about career and college readiness programs in Illinois, visit

  • Bennett warns residents of unemployment debit card scam

    ides fraud 072220CHAMPAIGN – Since the COVID-19 crisis began, pandemic-related scams have been on the rise, and State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is urging residents to stay vigilant so they do not fall victim.

    The most recent scam involves potential unemployment debit card fraud. Some Illinoisans have reported receiving a KeyBank debit card and an unemployment letter from the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) despite never having applied for unemployment.

    “Scammers are attempting to take advantage of this uncertain situation and commit unemployment fraud,” Bennett said. “Ineligible residents who receive an unemployment debit card should report it immediately and make sure their personal information has not been compromised.”

    IDES confirmed individuals who have not filed for benefits but received a debit card or unemployment letter could be the target of fraud. Anyone who has received a debit card without filing should contact their local police department and report the incident with IDES. 

  • Bennett backs new summer youth employment program

    teen work 072220URBANA – In an effort to help young adults find jobs during the pandemic, State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) supported the Illinois Department of Human Services’ COVID-19 Summer Youth Employment Program, which provides employment opportunities for youth in the community.

    “Young adults are facing a tough job market because of the pandemic,” Bennett said. “This program is a unique opportunity for young workers to gain valuable work experience during these tough times.”

    The state has dedicated $9.3 million to the program to employ low-income youth living in areas most affected by the pandemic.

    Urbana Neighborhood Connections is one of 30 youth employment providers and will receive $500,000 to employ 100 youth workers for the next three months. Employees will be matched with work-based learning opportunities based on their age, ability and experience, and will take part in career development training. 

    For more information about Urbana Neighborhood Connections program, contact Michelle Turner at 217-898-1019 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

  • University of Illinois Willard Airport receives funds for airport improvements

    Cwillard airport 071720HAMPAIGN –The University of Illinois Willard Airport is set to receive funding through the Illinois Department of Transportation’s Division of Aeronautics, State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) announced Friday.

    “Willard Airport is an important economic engine for Champaign County and these funds will be critical to improving the facility,” Bennett said. “Investing in airport infrastructure will enhance safety, create jobs and provide economic benefits to our community.”

  • Bennett urges small business owners to apply for PPP loans before new deadline

    smallbizopen2 052820CHAMPAIGN –The U.S. Small Business Administration resumed accepting applications to its Paycheck Protection Program last week, and State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is encouraging small business owners to contact participating lenders to apply.

    “Small businesses are the foundation of our communities,” Bennett said. “Small businesses that have been hurt or impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic should take advantage as soon as possible.”

    The Small Business Administration has extended the application deadline to allow more businesses to apply for a portion of $10 million in aid. Funding will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis and may be used to keep people on the payroll and pay overhead expenses. The new deadline to apply for a PPP loan is Aug. 8.

    Businesses that need help with the application process can contact the Illinois Small Business Development Center at Champaign County Economic Development Corporation, which assists entrepreneurs and companies by providing free and confidential business guidance, training and other resources.

    More than 27,000 Illinois businesses have already taken advantage of the loans – saving an estimated 1.36 million jobs – according to the Small Business Administration.

    PPP loans have an interest rate of 1% and can be fully forgiven if they are used for eligible costs, including payroll, rent, utilities or interest on mortgages. To find participating lenders, business owners and managers can visit the Small Business Administration’s website here.


  • Bennett reminds residents of July 15 tax deadline

    IRSdeadlineCHAMPAIGN –State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is reminding Illinois residents that state income tax returns and payments are due July 15, the same deadline established by the Internal Revenue Service for federal income taxes.

    “Given the public health emergency, the filing deadline was extended by three months to provide some relief for residents facing financial hardship during the COVID-19 outbreak,” Bennett said. “As the filing deadline approaches, I encourage taxpayers to do their part and file their returns in a timely manner.”

  • Housing Authority of Champaign County awarded broadband expansion grant

    broadband 052820CHAMPAIGN – To support the many Illinoisans working and learning from home as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is pleased to announce the Housing Authority of Champaign County has been selected to receive a state grant funding broadband advancements across the community.

    “This pandemic has served as a reminder to residents just how crucial broadband access is,” Bennett said. “Many rural areas lack high-speed internet service, but this grant will enhance broadband accessibility and ensure those communities can stay connected.”

    The Housing Authority of Champaign is one of 12 organizations to receive a grant from the Illinois Dept. of Commerce and Economic Opportunity through the Illinois Connected Communities program, created to help build broadband capacity in underserved areas.

    In addition to an award of up to $15,000, the 12-month program provides free expert consultation to enable each Illinois Connected Community to complete a plan for expanding broadband that identifies actions to improve internet access in the areas of community and economic development, education, civic engagement, healthcare, agriculture, and more.

    The program directs $150,000 in state-funded small grants for community and local government partners to help improve access to high-speed broadband in their communities. The state grants will be matched by $150,000 in philanthropic funds.

    These grants will help lay the groundwork for individual communities to play a part in Connect Illinois, a $420 million program to bring basic internet access to all communities by 2024. Connect Illinois contemplates a second round of grants later this year.

  • Local education institutions awarded more than $200,000 in grants for literacy programs

    adult literacy 070820CHAMPAIGN –State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is pleased to congratulate three area education institutions who received more than $200,000 total in literacy grants to help adult learners develop their reading, math, writing and English-language skills.

    “Literacy is fundamental to learning and cannot be taken for granted,” Bennett said. “These programs present a wonderful opportunity for volunteer tutors to help others improve their lives through literacy and education.”

    The following education institutions within the 52nd Illinois Senate District have been chosen to receive grants:


    Grant Amount

    Parkland College


    Danville Area Community College


    Urbana School District #116



    According to the Secretary of State’s office, more than 13,500 students will be served by adult literacy programs throughout Illinois. Supported by $5.6 million in state funds, the programs will depend on nearly 6,000 volunteer tutors to provide skills training for students.

    Adult literacy projects focus on improving reading, writing and math and are targeted at Illinois adults who read below the ninth-grade level or speak English at a beginning level.

    Bennett urges skilled tutors interested in volunteering to contact the Illinois Adult Learning Hotline at 800-321-9511.

  • Bennett highlights free credit report resources

    credit app 070920CHAMPAIGN – To help people stay informed about their finances amid the COVID-19 pandemic, State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is highlighting free credit reporting websites. 

    “Like physical health, financial health is key to leading a stable and secure financial future,” Bennett said. “A consistent focus on a person’s budget and other financial matters will allow them to tackle financial burdens stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

    Federal law requires each of the three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies—Equifax, Experian and TransUnion—to provide a free credit report every 12 months if requested. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, these companies are offering free online weekly credit reports through April 2021.

    The information in these reports may affect mortgage rates, credit card approvals, apartment requests and job applications. Reviewing credit reports can also help catch signs of identity theft early.

    “People can take steps to improve their financial wellbeing by regularly checking their credit report,” Bennett said. “As we continue to navigate this challenging time, I encourage residents to take advantage of free credit services available to review their credit history and manage their finances.”  

    To find out more about why credit is important or to request a credit report, visit

  • Bennett promotes new grants to support dairy farmers

    dairy 063020CHAMPAIGN - To support dairy farmers and dairy-related businesses with financial and technical support, Senate Agriculture Chairman Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is promoting the Dairy Business Innovation Alliance (DBIA). 

    DBIA, a joint effort coordinated by the Center for Dairy Research and the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, was designed to support and promote the diversification and addition of value-added products to the Midwest dairy industry.

    Goals of the program include increasing on-farm diversification, creating value-added dairy products, such as specialty cheeses, and focusing on export opportunities for farm-scale and processor dairy products.

    “These grants are designed to foster innovation,” Senator Bennett said. “It’s my hope this program can be used to improve the future for dairy farmers and processors.”

    The grant application period is now open. Funds totaling $220,000 will be disbursed and awarded with individual projects receiving up to $20,000. The deadline to complete and return applications is Aug. 14. Selected producers and business owners will be notified on Sept. 4.

    For questions or additional information, call DBIA at 608-265-1491 or visit

  • Bennett encourages residents to go paperless with vehicle renewal notice

    online license renew 062920CHAMPAIGN –In an effort to be more eco-friendly, State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is urging residents to sign up for the secretary of state’s Email Renewal Notice program.  

    During the pandemic, facilities expanded their online driver’s services to continue to provide essential services to vehicle owners. Through the Email Renewal Notice program, vehicle owners will receive email notices highlighting the upcoming vehicle expiration date of their vehicle and have a more mobile customer experience. 

    “This program is an easy and convenient alternative to paper statements,” Bennett said. “One of the great benefits of this program is to help reduce paper and conserve resources. It’s also one less item with personal information sitting in your mailbox.”

    To register for the program, vehicle owners will need their assigned registration ID and PIN, which can be found on their current vehicle registration card.For those who do not have a renewal notice, they are encouraged to call the Public Inquiry Division at 800-252-8980 to obtain their Registration ID and PIN.

    For additional information, please visit the secretary of state’s website at


  • Bennett to host virtual Phase 4 town hall

    bennett 031020CHAMPAIGN –A virtual town hall to share information about Phase 4 of the governor’s Restore Illinois plan, hosted by State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) and a panel of experts, will take place Thursday, June 25.

    Bennett and the panel of experts want to hear people’s concerns related to the reopening plan. The panelists will provide information and answer constituent questions on Bennett’s Facebook page at 6 p.m.

    “A lot has been learned since the pandemic first started” Bennett said. “All four regions of the state are currently on track to move into Phase 4 on June 26. This town hall is a great opportunity to learn what’s new in this stage of our state’s recovery and get your questions answered.”

    Community members can submit their questions during the live broadcast in the comments of the livestream or prior to the event at

    Panelists include, Public Health Administrator Julie Pryde of the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District, Dr. Janet Jokola of University of Illinois College of Medicine Infectious Disease Specialist, Dr. Robert Healy of Carle Adult Medicine and University of Illinois Clinical Associate Professor, and Mike DeLorenzo, the  University of Illinois’ Senior Associate Chancellor for Administration and Operations. 

    For questions or additional information, Bennett urges residents to contact his office at 217-355-5252 or visit