Case Study

Chicago Resilient Communities Monthly Cash Assistance Pilot

$30 Million to 5,000 low-income Chicago residents

April 13, 2022

Mayor Lightfoot Announces April 25 Launch of Applications for The Chicago Resilient Communities Pilot

Lottery applications for monthly cash assistance to 5,000 low-income, COVID-impacted residents to be open from April 25 to May 13

CHICAGO – Today, Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and Department of Family and Support Services Commissioner Brandie Knazze announced updates on the Chicago Resilient Communities Pilot, a $31.5 million program to benefit Chicago residents and families facing economic hardships caused by COVID-19.  

The Chicago Resilient Communities Pilot will be one of the largest monthly cash assistance programs in the nation and will support 5,000 low-income households with $500 each month for 12 months to provide additional economic stability.  

The City’s nonprofit administrator for the pilot, GiveDirectly, will accept applications between 9:00 a.m. Monday, April 25 and 11:59 p.m. Friday, May 13. Residents can apply at any point during that 3-week window and be considered for the lottery in May. Application assistance will be available in-person, online with chat support, and through a phone hotline in multiple languages starting April 25. To learn more and sign up for application process updates, including future in-person and virtual application assistance events, visit

To apply for the lottery to participate, residents must live in the City of Chicago, be 18 years or older, have experienced economic hardship related to COVID-19, and have a household income at or below 250% of the Federal Poverty Level (ex. $57,575 for a household of 3). Applicants who are confirmed to be eligible will be entered into a lottery. Only one applicant per household can apply and be entered into the lottery. The lottery is designed to prioritize individuals living in poverty (at or below 100% of the Federal Poverty Level) and communities with preexisting economic hardship to align with the equitable recovery goal of the Chicago Recovery Plan.  

"I remain committed to making an equitable recovery from the pandemic to stabilize and ensure the wellbeing of all residents," said Mayor Lightfoot. "The Chicago Resilient Communities pilot is a way for us to efficiently support the communities and households that were hardest hit by the pandemic with dignity as well as build on our work to eradicate poverty. I'm deeply proud to launch the largest cash assistance program of its kind in the country as we continue to provide economic relief to residents and strengthen our city."  

Additionally, the Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) also announced the selection of the following agencies to administer core functions of the pilot. All were selected through a competitive RFP process this Spring.  

  • Pilot Administrator: GiveDirectly with AidKit. GiveDirectly is an international nonprofit with expertise in administering one-time and monthly cash transfer programs internationally and in the U.S. for COVID-19 response. In the past decade, they've delivered $550m to 1.2 million people living in poverty, including over 200,000 low-income Americans. AidKit is a technology platform built to support efficient and secure direct cash and guaranteed income programs at scale. Both organizations are currently working in partnership to administer the “In Her Hands” guaranteed income initiative in Georgia.

“GiveDirectly is thrilled to be supporting the City of Chicago’s efforts to build an equitable, accessible process that will benefit the most vulnerable and excluded populations. We're bringing over a decade of experience in delivering direct cash aid around the world. Our in goal in Chicago is to assure a best-in-class program design that is easy for enrollees to access, empowering them to use these funds on what they need the most.” – Sarah Moran, GiveDirectly, U.S. County Director  

"AidKit is invested in building technology that provides people with cash support in a scalable yet dignified way that is responsive to diverse needs and backgrounds. We're thrilled that Chicago shares this vision and look forward to setting a new national benchmark for guaranteed income programs." - Ben Newhouse, AidKit co-founder and CTO

  • Outreach and Recruitment Lead: YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago. Founded in 1876, YWCA Metropolitan Chicago is a social enterprise committed to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all. YWCA Metropolitan Chicago impacts tens of thousands of women and families annually through comprehensive human services provided across the region. The YWCA is a leading service provider of sexual violence support services, early childhood and childcare provider services, family support services, youth STEM programming, and economic empowerment services. The YWCA will be responsible for coordinating community-based outreach for the pilot to ensure this opportunity reaches Chicagoans in need.  

    "The team at YWCA Metropolitan Chicago is honored to have been chosen by the City of Chicago to lead outreach and collaborate with a network of community partners for this historic effort,” said Nicole Robinson, CEO, YWCA Metropolitan Chicago. “Our outreach will be equitable to ensure families who most need this income boost have the opportunity to apply and hopefully participate. This program is one of resilience, which is why we will ensure residents have the support needed to successfully complete the application. And it’s also an opportunity to connect residents with other programs, services, and resources.” - Nicole R. Robinson, YWCA Metropolitan Chicago, CEO

  • Local Outreach Delegates: In addition to the YWCA, the City will also partner with five other delegates to execute targeted outreach strategies to specific populations, such as the housing insecure, undocumented residents, people with disabilities, Veterans, unaccompanied youth, returning residents and non-English speakers. These delegates include: Center for Changing Lives; Phalanx Family Services; Pui Tak Center; Spanish Coalition for Housing; and United African Organization.  

    The City of Chicago is also partnering with the University of Chicago Inclusive Economy Lab to complete a study on the impacts of the pilot and residents’ experiences. Results from the study will help the City understand the efficacy of cash assistance programs and determine best practices for future programs. At the time of application, all applicants will be asked about their interest in participating in this study; participation in the study is 100% optional and will not affect selection decisions for the pilot. The study will engage both those selected for the pilot in May and those who apply but do not get selected to receive the monthly cash.    

    Mayor Lightfoot and Commissioner Knazze are grateful for the members of the Chicago Resilient Communities Pilot Advisory Group convened to shape this pilot in early 2022. The group included experts from across Chicago and the country—including advocates, researchers, aldermen, and those with personal experience of poverty—to advise the City on equitable and effective program design and implementation. Advisory Group members are listed here

"Cash assistance allows individuals and families the flexibility to address the needs most critical to them,” said DFSS Commissioner Brandie Knazze. “The Chicago Resilient Communities Pilot puts resources directly into the hands of those who need it most and allows them to thrive their own terms.”  

The Chicago Resilient Communities Pilot is just one initiative within the broader $1.2 billion Chicago Recovery Plan to promote safe and thriving communities and an equitable economic recovery from COVID-19. Learn more at


Chicago Resilient Communities Monthly Cash Assistance Pilot
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