An aerial view from Lake Michigan of the NU campus and downtown Evanston.

Northwestern University announced today that it will support a guaranteed income pilot program as part of this year’s Good Neighbor Fund grant to the City of Evanston.

It’s the sixth year of the million dollar grant program and the first to be specifically target to racial equity programs.

In addition to $300,000 for the guaranteed income pilot, the program will allocate $400,000 to a minority business incubator, $100,000 for racial equity consulting services and $50,000 each for arts, language access, older adults and undocumented residents.

The funding allocations were agreed to by NU President Morton Schapiro and Evanston Mayor Steve Hagerty.

“This year,” Schapiro said, “we believe it’s crucial to focus on addressing historic social and racial injustices and their ongoing effects on our community. I believe this is how we can all make our greatest impact for the long-term health of our city.”

“These innovative, exciting programs will help lift up our entire city by tearing down systemic barriers faced by historically marginalized communities, and they will build on the City’s existing efforts to advance racial equity as we look to forge a strong and equitable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Hagerty said.

Here’s an outline of the different projects.

  • Minority Business Incubator, $400,000 — Funding will support a collaboration between the City of Evanston, Northwestern and various Evanston business associations to provide minority entrepreneurs with access to programming, networking and capital.
  • Guaranteed Income Pilot Program, $300,000 — Also referred to as Universal Basic Income, this pilot program will offer monthly cash payments to low-income Evanston households to supplement the existing social safety net.
  • Operationalizing Racial Equity within the City, $100,000 — Funding will support consulting services to strengthen the equitable delivery of city services to the community.
  • Building Community Resiliency through the Arts, $50,000 — Funding will mobilize artists and cultural and social service organizations to improve the quality of life and amplify voices in underserved communities.
  • Language Access Program, $50,000 — Funding will help the City fill language accessibility gaps, provide staff training and translate vital documents.
  • Reducing Social Isolation for Older Adults Pilot Program, $50,000 — Funding will support the launch of a new city program providing in-home technology solutions to at-risk, older adult populations to reduce isolation and connect with health and wellness programming.
  • Community Member Relief Fund, $50,000 — Funding will supplement the City’s fund designated for Evanston residents who do not qualify for general assistance or emergency assistance due to their legal status. The Community Member Relief Fund was established by the City Council last year.

In addition to the 2021 Northwestern Good Neighbor Racial Equity Fund, Northwestern announced last year that it would increase its commitment to Evanston and Chicago by creating a new Racial Equity and Community Partnership Grant program supported by an additional $500,000.

This pilot program, administered by the University’s Office of Neighborhood and Community Relations, will award grants to partnerships between community-based nonprofits or groups in Evanston and Chicago, and Northwestern faculty, students or staff. Northwestern is in the process of reviewing grant applications for the pilot.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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