Mayor Richard M. Daley today praised the efforts of Chicago’s philanthropic community in helping speed delivery of services funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to Chicago’s neighborhoods and residents and provided an update on projects that are already underway.
Under the federal program to date, the City has been awarded more than $1 billion in the areas of education, energy and environment, transportation, housing, workforce development and public safety, the Mayor said in a news conference held at ABJ Community Services, 1818 E. 71st St.
In addition, Chicago has applied for an additional $800 million in competitive grants under the program.
Daley said the federal program gives Chicago an unprecedented opportunity to invest a large amount of federal funds -- at one time -- in core areas that are essential to the City’s economic turnaround.
But they bring with them a number of unprecedented challenges. For example, the Act requires that most funds be spent quickly and, for the most part it clearly defines the types of initiatives on which the money can be spent.
So, for much of the spending, the City has adhered to existing programs that are consistent with long-established priorities, such as training for the jobs of the future, maximizing energy efficiency in homes, providing more affordable housing, preventing homelessness, fighting and preventing crime and investing in and improving neighborhood infrastructure.
To help maximize the federal resources and extend the benefits beyond just this one large infusion of federal funding, Daley in April sought the support of the city’s not-for-profit and philanthropic communities.
In all the areas funded by ARRA, local nonprofit organizations play an important role in carrying out projects and foundations already provide critical support to these groups, the Mayor said.
What has grown out of that April meeting is known as the Chicago Recovery Partnership, which now includes 50 foundations from Chicago's philanthropic community, as well as members of Chicago’s business, non-profit and academic community.
"The Partnership is also tangible evidence of our commitment to transparency and sound management of the federal funds that are doing so much to improve the quality of life for all Chicagoans," Daley said.
Under the Recovery Partnership, our foundation community and the other partners are stepping forward to help align their own resources with stimulus priorities and looking for opportunities to collaborate with us.
The Partnership is also providing resources and expertise to help make the City's grant applications more competitive.
In addition, the Partnership is funding independent evaluations of some stimulus projects.
"As far as we know, there's no other city in the nation that is working so closely with its philanthropic community to make the economic recovery dollars go farther for the taxpayers," Daley said. "I want to thank everyone who has worked so hard to get this partnership up and running quickly."
Daley reminded residents that all information about how the City plans to use the federal money can be found on the city’s website -- www.cityofchicago.org/recovery -- which has recently been improved and made even more user-friendly.
In recent weeks the City has taken a number of steps under the federal program to help kick start the economy and help people get through the worst economy in modern times.
For example, the City has:
"The federal program is a huge undertaking, but one that provides us with enormous opportunities and we are making sure that Chicago receives the greatest possible benefit," Daley said.