The Future of Illinois Campaign (2020)
In seeking to develop a future policy framework, Empower Illinois commissioned a landscape analysis of workforce education pathways available to students in Illinois and those quality models that exist in other states around the country, knowing that not every student will pursue a college-driven pathway. The more accessible and flexible educational pathways are for students, the more likely they are to take advantage of those opportunities and achieve prosperity.
To tackle this problem, Empower Illinois partnered with a broad coalition of nonpublic schools, trade labor unions, businesses, and community organizations who are committed to ensuring students have more education and career pathways that are not limited based on income. Our partners in the Future of Illinois initiative include the Operating Engineers Local 150, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, among others.
#SaveMyScholarship Campaign (2019)
In 2018, tax credit scholarship opponents announced a 50 percent cut and premature phase out of the Invest in Kids Act—threatening more than 46,000 kids in line for a scholarship. This jeopardized all 7,178 scholarship recipients at the time, and immediately denied at least 742 current recipients their chance to receive the education they deserve. By May 2019, the Invest in Kids Act was the only proposed cut in the entire multibillion-dollar state budget. Empower Illinois, under the #SaveMyScholarship campaign, led a grassroots coalition to fight against these threats–and we won. Our staff empowered, recruited, and trained a coalition of school leaders and community advocates to maintain a consistent presence in the Capitol through daily trips. Thanks to the efforts of many students, parents, grandparents, foster parents, teachers, school leaders, and community leaders who made the trip to Springfield to show their support for the program and its preservation, our voices were heard, and we won the fight to save the program. Empower Illinois was recognized for its work on the #SaveMyScholarship campaign with a national nomination for the Policy Innovation in Education “Eddie Award” for Best Defense.
Illinois Kids Campaign (2017)
Empower Illinois joined with dozens of education, community, and labor organizations in 2017 to expand quality education options to all Illinois kids, regardless of ZIP Code or family income. Working together with educators, policy makers, parents, donors, and students, the Illinois Kids Coalition succeeded in passing the Invest in Kids Act, which created Illinois’ Tax Credit Scholarship Program.