• Villanueva celebrates first round of small business grants, urges more businesses to apply in the future

    smallbizopen2 052820CHICAGO – The state released $46 million in Business Interruption Grants to more than 2,500 local businesses in the first round of the program, which is intended to help businesses hit especially hard by pandemic-related closures and restrictions. State Senator Celina Villanueva (D-Chicago) is urging more business owners to apply for the next round.

    “I was happy to see more than 50% of this round of grants go to businesses owned by people of color in particularly hard hit areas,” Villanueva said. “These grants will go a long way to help businesses struggling from the COVID-19 outbreak, especially for the many business owners who couldn’t qualify for federal aid in communities like the one I represent.”

    In the 11th Senate District, 42 businesses received $770,000 in aid. First round BIG grants range from $10,000 to $20,000 and will be used to help businesses cover payroll costs, rent and utilities. The funds may also be used to cover pandemic-related expenses, such as masks and other protective equipment, training, and new technology. Recipients were selected via a random lottery.

    Before the next round of grants, the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity is providing technical assistance to support entrepreneurs who need help applying, especially in communities of colors. They will work through community partners, including the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition, The Resurrection Project, and the Chicago Urban League.

    “We all know the truth is the pandemic has hit Latinx and Black communities especially hard, especially in the city,” Villanueva said. “Businesses in our communities often have less resources and less experience navigating government programs. I urge local businesses who need help to work with these community navigators to apply for the next round of grants.”

    DCEO expects to launch the next round of applications soon.

  • The Illinois Latino Caucus supports the Rental Assistance Program but more help needs to be provided

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  • Farragut Career Academy receives grant for teaching program

    farragut 072420CHICAGO – To bring more students into the education field, State Senator Celina Villanueva (D-Chicago) announced that Farragut Career Academy High School will receive state funding to develop teaching programs.

    “Students deserve teachers and role models that have shared lived experiences,” Villanueva said. “Bolstering Farragut Academy’s teaching program will prepare young people in Little Village for a career that will make a lasting impact on their community.”

    The Illinois State Board of Education awarded the City of Chicago Public Schools Education for Employment system a $237,000 grant that will be distributed between four high schools to develop Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs focused on careers in education, including Farragut Career Academy High School.

    CTE programs help students develop technical and employability skills to enable them to pursue higher education opportunities and succeed in the workforce. Students in CTE programs may also earn dual credit or credentials and certifications from partner institutions prior to high school graduation.

    The programs will emphasize 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

  • Villanueva: Immigrant communities will not be silenced in the census

    villanueva 022620CHICAGO – After President Trump released a memorandum that calls for an unprecedented change that would exclude undocumented residents from the U.S. Census, State Senator Celina Villanueva (D-Chicago) released the following statement:

    “Both citizens and non-citizens have been included in the official count since the first U.S. Census. The purpose of the census is to count all residents, regardless of status, so that the communities they live in receive adequate resources and accurate representation.

  • PODER Learning Center, Morton College receive adult literacy grants

    adult literacy 071320CHICAGO – State Senator Celina Villanueva (D-Chicago) announced that two local adult literacy programs will receive a combined total of $105,000 in state funds. The Secretary of State issued these grants as part of his Adult Literacy Grant program.

    “Community organizations and local colleges offer adults the opportunity to expand their reading and English language skills,” Villanueva said. “Funding these programs is essential to the success of our community. I encourage anyone looking to hone these skills to join one of these programs.”

    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, according to the Secretary of State’s Office. Adult literacy projects are focused on improving reading, writing and math and are targeted at Illinois adults who read below the 9th-grade level or speak English at a beginning level.

    The PODER Learning Center in the West Lawn neighborhood of Chicago was awarded a grant of $75,000. Morton College in Cicero was awarded a grant of $30,000.

    “As an immigrant integration center, PODER facilitates successful societal and workforce integration and there’s no more vital skill than the ability to communicate effectively in English,” Daniel Loftus, President and CEO of PODER Learning Center, said. “Learning a language virtually, due to the pandemic, has its challenges.  By investing in our recruitment and training of volunteers to support our professional instructors, this grant will ensure every PODER student receives all the additional one-one-one English tutoring support they need to be successful.”

    To volunteer as a tutor at one of these programs, contact the Illinois Adult Learning Hotline at 800-321-9511.

  • Villanueva encourages youth employment assistance providers to apply for state grant

    teens 070820CHICAGO – With young people facing high rates of unemployment during the COVID-19 pandemic, State Senator Celina Villanueva (D-Chicago) announced that the Illinois Youth Investment Program is extending its grant application deadline to Aug. 3, 2020.

    “For most of my career I have been dedicated to the development of young people and am continuously amazed at the things that they can accomplish,” Villanueva said. “Organizations looking to help at-risk young people should apply for these grants so that they have the necessary resources to set them up for success.”

  • Villanueva: Students should seek college financial aid adjustments

    villanueva 02182020HAO0695CHICAGO – With college students preparing to return to campus, State Senator Celina Villanueva (D-Chicago) announced that the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) is offering free consultation to students applying for financial aid.

    “The financial aid process can be frustrating, especially for those who are first generation college students,” Villanueva said. “ISAC can help apply for financial aid, answer questions and help maximize the benefits you receive.”

    Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of Illinois families face financial uncertainty. Students and parents can seek an adjustment to their financial aid offers based on their new financial situation. ISAC is available to assist families in this process both online and through their ISAC College Q&A program – a free text service where students can find answers to financial aid questions on their phones. Assistance is available in English and Spanish.

    ISAC can also help students and their families with both the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid. The alternative application is reserved for undocumented and certain transgender students who are ineligible for FAFSA.

  • New education laws will help students succeed as remote learning continues

    elearningCHICAGO – Teachers and students will have extra support during the COVID-19 crisis thanks to an education package championed by State Senator Celina Villanueva (D-Chicago) that was signed into law on Thursday.

    “These changes will help students and teachers to overcome the new challenges they face during the pandemic,” Villanueva said. “As we move forward, we must find new ways to ensure that students are able to maintain a path to success in their education.”

    The education package extends educator license renewals for one year, so teachers don’t have to go through the renewal process while working remotely. It also allows for mandatory tests to be taken remotely, so students will not need to risk infection while taking a required college entry exam.

    For higher education courses, a grade of “pass”, “credit” or “satisfactory” during the public health emergency is transferable and will fulfill prerequisite requirements for more advanced courses. The package also modifies the income requirements for the AIM HIGH education grant program. Under this new provision, a student’s income when they enter the program will remain their income for the duration of their inclusion in the program.

    Senate Bill 1569 was signed by the governor on Thursday and is effective immediately.

  • Latino Caucus: SCOTUS Ruling upholding DACA is right thing for nation

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  • Villanueva: Vote by mail needs to be made permanent

    Vote by mailCHICAGO – State Senator Celina Villanueva (D-Chicago) celebrated a historic election package that expands the state’s vote by mail program for the 2020 General Election.

    “Access to the ballot is a fundamental right,” Villanueva said. “Expanding vote by mail will allow voters to participate in our democracy while taking necessary precautions during this public health crisis.”

    Senate Bill 1863 will send anyone who voted in the past two years an application to vote by mail. Voters who aren’t sent an application will be able to apply to vote by mail online. Election Day of this year will also be made a state holiday so schools can be used as polling places without putting students at increased risk for COVID-19. All provisions in this legislation apply to the 2020 General Election only.

    “I am confident that this pilot program will show how safe and efficient voting by mail is,” Villanueva said. “I look forward to making this expansion a permanent part of how we vote in Illinois.”

    Senate Bill 1863 was signed into law on Tuesday and is effective immediately.

  • New fund offers $1,000 to Chicagoans excluded from federal COVID-19 aid

    Senator VillanuevaCHICAGO – A new cash assistance program will provide financial support to Chicago residents who were excluded from federal stimulus aid, State Senator Celina Villanueva (D-Chicago) announced.

    “Federal stimulus packages systematically excluded mixed-status families,” Villanueva said. “This new fund covers those who were left behind and makes sure that everyone, regardless of status, gets the help they need.”

    The City of Chicago is launching the Chicago Resiliency Fund in collaboration with Open Society Foundations and The Resurrection Project. The fund will provide $1,000 per household for eligible Chicagoans, including undocumented individuals, mixed-status families, dependent adults and returning residents.

    Applications will become available June 22. Find more information and apply at

  • Villanueva: State budget helps those left behind in CARES Act

    villanueva floor 052220CHICAGO – As this year’s budget was signed into law, State Senator Celina Villanueva (D-Chicago) commended its focus on providing relief for the most vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “Relief packages from the federal government have systematically left out those who need the most help,” Villanueva said. “Our budget affirms the dignity of all people by ensuring that no one is left behind.”

    With thousands of Illinoisans out of work, the Illinois Housing Development Authority was allocated $396 million for rent and mortgage assistance grants. Residents who lost their income due to the pandemic will be eligible for these grants. The Illinois Department of Employment Security was also given an additional $60 million to reduce the backlog of claims needing to be processed.

    Because many immigrant families were left out of federal relief, the state is adding $32 million to immigrant welcoming centers. These centers reduce systemic barriers that immigrant residents may face when accessing state services. Medicaid eligibility was also expanded to include all seniors regardless of status so long as they meet all other eligibility requirements.

    Senate Bill 264 takes effect July 1.

  • Villanueva: Lawmakers must address root causes of systemic injustices

    villanueva floor 060520CHICAGO – After the murder of George Floyd sparked nationwide protests, State Senator Celina Villanueva (D-Chicago) released the following statement:

    “What happened to George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade and so many other Black Americans is unacceptable, but it is not new. The rage that people are feeling now, and have always felt, is justified and I stand with them in solidarity.

    “Action must be taken to address the systemic inequities that enable these extrajudicial murders. Those in law enforcement and the perpetrators of violence must be held accountable for their actions – just like any other public official. I add my voice to those who demand accountability in law enforcement, an end to mass incarceration, cash bail and the overall lack of resources in communities of color, among many other issues that impact Black communities and communities of color. Not just for the short term, but for the long term.

    “I must also recognize the anti-blackness and racism that exists in Latino/a/x communities. It is real and divides us at a time when we should be united with our Black neighbors. As a leader in my community, I am committed to doing all I can to ensure that Black and Latino/a/x communities can stand together to address the issues that plague our communities.”

  • Villanueva votes to give essential workers more benefits, protect retail workers who enforce mask etiquette

    villanueva 052320SPRINGFIELD – With essential workers facing more risks on the job, State Senator Celina Villanueva (D-Chicago) voted to pass a labor package that increases public employee benefits, protects retail workers and expands collective bargaining rights.

    “Working people deserve dignity on the job,” Villanueva said. “Expanding paid disability leave, legal protections and the right to negotiate a fair wage will ensure that they have a safety net.”

    Senate Bill 471 would expand paid disability leave for first responders by 60 days due to decreased access to rehabilitative services. The legislation would also elevate a charge of battery of a retail employee to aggravated battery if the incident took place during or up to six months after a declared public health emergency. Aggravated battery would also apply to incidents that occur while an employee is performing duties that include relaying directions for health and safety precautions.

    “Retail employees are facing harassment and worse for enforcing face mask requirements,” Villanueva said. “We need to proactively expand legal protections to working people who put themselves at risk every day to provide essential services.”

    In addition to those provisions, the legislation would also require existing racetracks with 10 or more employees to engage in collective bargaining if the track wishes to expand to include a casino. While the horse racing industry is excluded from federal collective bargaining laws, Illinois has extended similar protections to most businesses.

    “As these facilities expand operations, they will also be expanding their workforce with janitorial, food service and other backstretch employees,” Villanueva said. “This measure will create a huge opportunity for those workers to improve their lives and receive the wages they deserve through the opportunity to collectively bargain.”

     Not all backstretch employees would be covered under this bill. Villanueva plans to introduce legislation to expand coverage during veto session.

    Senate Bill 471 passed the Illinois Senate 47-3.

  • Villanueva votes to make 2020 election safe and accessible

    Sen. Celina VillanuevaSPRINGFIELD – With public health concerns surrounding the 2020 General Election, State Senator Celina Villanueva (D-Chicago) voted to pass a historic election package out of the Illinois Senate.

    “Participating in our democracy is a right, not a privilege,” Villanueva said. “Voters need to be able to cast their ballot without putting themselves or others at risk.”

  • Villanueva demands accountability for reapproved Hilco demolition

    hilco expl 051520CHICAGO – After Hilco Redevelopment Partners were approved to resume their demolition of the Crawford Coal plant in Little Village, State Senator Celina Villanueva (D-Chicago) released the following statement:

    “It is unconscionable and careless for Hilco to continue their demolition of the Crawford Coal plant after they already caused so much damage and covered our neighborhood in a dust cloud. Their track record proves that they do not value the public health of our community, which already has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the state.

    “The City’s decision to reauthorize the demolition is irresponsible and downright disrespectful to our community. Official notice still has not be given to neighbors, which is completely unacceptable.

    “The City cannot say that it prioritizes the health of black and brown communities and then allow a known polluter to continue their demolition. The mayor needs to deny the demolition permits and to stop work on the site immediately. We deserve actual protection during this crisis, not lip service.”

  • Villanueva demands mixed status families be included in federal relief packages

    villanueva 022620CHICAGO – Joined by members of Illinois’ Congressional Delegation and immigration lawyers, State Senator Celina Villanueva (D-Chicago) called on Congress to eliminate provisions in the federal relief package that exclude families with mixed immigration statuses.

    “It is repugnant and cruel of this administration to play with the lives of so many people, especially during a pandemic that disproportionately affects African-American and Latino communities,” Villanueva said. “No one, absolutely no one, regardless of status should be denied relief in this moment.”

    Under the CARES Act, U.S. citizens who are married to immigrant spouses without a Social Security number are ineligible for stimulus benefits. According to immigration lawyers representing an Illinois man who filed suit, 1.2 million Americans are denied relief under this provision. In Illinois alone over 3,700 families have been denied stimulus checks.

    Roughly 6,000 people, including 1,500 Illinois residents, have asked to join the lawsuit, which is in the process of obtaining class-action status. Vivian Khalaf of Khalaf and Abuzir, LLC has also filed similar suits in Wisconsin and California.

  • Villanueva bringing masks to Little Village

    masks 051220CHICAGO – State Senator Celina Villanueva (D-Chicago) and other elected officials are partnering with community organizations to distribute masks to the Little Village community on Wednesday. Mask distribution is first come, first served, with priority given to seniors.

    “Little Village has the highest infection rate in the entire state, and we need to make sure that the most vulnerable people in our community are protected,” Villanueva said. “We all must take precautions to protect them, so please come by to get a mask if you do not have one.”

    Event partners include Enlace Chicago, Rincón Family Services and Telpochcalli Community Education Project.

    WHO: State Senator Celina Villanueva, Alderperson Michael Rodriguez, U.S. Representative Jesús “Chuy” García, Commissioner Alma E. Anaya, State Representatives Lisa Hernandez, Edgar Gonzalez and Aarón Ortíz

    WHAT:Little Village Mask Distribution

    WHEN:Wednesday, May 13, 2020 10 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

    WHERE:Second Federal Bank (West Parking Lot), 2520 S. Pulaski Rd., Chicago, IL 60623


  • Villanueva: Staying at home is a privilege that working people cannot afford

    covid 19 test 050720CHICAGO – With her home ZIP code experiencing the highest COVID-19 infection rate in the state, State Senator Celina Villanueva (D-Chicago) released the following statement:

    “Staying at home is a privilege that working people literally cannot afford. With an overwhelmed unemployment system, no adequate safety net and lack of personal protective equipment, people in my community are forced to choose between getting infected at work or losing everything.

    “As we continue adapting to this pandemic, we must address the amplified economic and health disparities in our communities. It is black and brown ZIP codes that have the highest rates of infection, so addressing that starts with additional testing sites in our neighborhoods.

    “I am grateful that the governor announced he is partnering with community health centers to make testing more available, as well as covered by emergency Medicaid regardless of status. I urge the governor to continue these partnerships and to reach out to local businesses to ensure that they are strictly following health and safety guidelines for the thousands of service industry and other essential workers who are putting their lives on the line.”

  • Villanueva encourages microbusinesses to apply for new grant program

    microbusiness2 050120CHICAGO – With the coronavirus pandemic forcing thousands of businesses to close, State Senator Celina Villanueva (D-Chicago) urges eligible Chicago business owners to apply for the new Microbusiness Recovery Grant Program.

    “Many of the assistance programs available are not accessible to the most vulnerable in our community,” Villanueva said. “Working people deserve relief regardless of status. This program is open to those who are too often left behind.”

    The Microbusiness Recovery Grant Program will award 1,000 businesses with four or fewer employees a one-time grant of $5,000. The grant money, funded entirely by private donations, must be used as working capital for expenses such as payroll, rent, insurance or taxes. Applications are available in English and Spanish on the City of Chicago’s website and are due by 5 p.m. on Monday, May 4, 2020.


    Eligibility requirements for the program include:

    Applicants must provide a valid ID and completed W9 form. CityKey is an accepted form of ID. Recipients will be chosen by a lottery on May 11 and issued their grant within two business days.