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County makes first payments in the Cook County Promise Guaranteed Income Pilot

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced this week that the first payments to participants in the Cook County Promise Guaranteed Income Pilot have been released and will reach participants in the coming days. 

The $42 million pilot is the largest publicly-funded guaranteed income program in American history and received more than 233,000 applications during the open application period in October.

“This is a proud moment for us at Cook County,” Preckwinkle said. “After months of hard work, participants in our Promise Pilot will now have their cash in hand. Our hope is that this money will serve as a foundation for residents so that they can achieve financial stability, pursue professional development opportunities, and invest in themselves and their children.”

The pilot project is funded by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). It enables the county to send monthly payments of $500 to 3,250 residents for two years. 

County leaders have committed to creating a permanent program after the completion of the pilot. The permanent program will be supported by a combination of county funds and philanthropic support.

“This money will go towards necessities like rent, groceries, and transportation. But it will also be invested in emergency savings funds, education costs, and starting new businesses. That’s the great thing about guaranteed income. It is a benefit that is flexible enough to help every participant meet their basic needs as well as their aspirations, no matter their particular situation,” said Bureau of Economic Development Chief Xochitl Flores.

Sixth District County Commissioner Donna Miller, who represents Homewood, lauded the launch of the program. 

“The distribution of the first payments in our Promise Pilot marks an exciting moment and historic milestone for Cook County in our fight to increase economic opportunity for all residents. Participants will have the opportunity to access much-needed necessities, invest in their dreams, and develop strong foundations for themselves and their families,” she said. 

Enrollment in the Promise Pilot is still ongoing. Program administrators will select the final participants over the coming weeks from a waitlist meant to fill gaps left by applicants who failed to respond to enrollment invitation communications within the designated timeframe. More information about the final participant cohort will be shared when the program has reached full enrollment.

A major goal of the program is to learn how guaranteed income impacts participants, as well as the local economy and community. This will be accomplished through an extensive evaluation and academic research partnership with the University of Chicago’s Inclusive Economy Lab and the Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice.

Evaluation of the Promise Pilot will allow governments, researchers, civic leaders and advocates to learn from this ambitious initiative. The extensive evaluation will focus on measuring the economic, health, and social impacts of this program on participants and their communities. This will include a randomized controlled trial comparing participants with a control group, participant interviews and surveys, as well as qualitative research that will center participants’ own voices to understand how the pilot has affected their families at a deeper, more personal level.

For more information about the Cook County Promise Guaranteed Income Pilot visit

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