Evanston launches Guaranteed Income Pilot program with Northwestern


Daily file photo by Evan Robinson-Johnson

Evanston will open applications for a guaranteed income program on August 15.

Yiming Fu, Managing Editor

A new year-long program will grant 150 randomly selected Evanston households with monthly financial assistance in a guaranteed income pilot program, the city announced Thursday. 

Launched as a partnership between Evanston and Northwestern, the program will give participants $500 loaded onto a prepaid debit card to spend each month as they see fit. To qualify for the program, participants must be Evanston residents with household incomes below 250% of the Federal Poverty Line, and be either between the ages of 18 and 24, over the age of 62 or an undocumented person. 

Applications  will be open on the city’s website from August 15 to 29. Evanston will pick recipients randomly through a lottery system after applications close.

Dave Davis, the University’s senior executive director of neighborhood and community relations, said NU is excited to launch the new Evanston partnership. 

“Northwestern is committed to fostering innovative solutions to our city’s most pressing challenges, namely inequality and economic insecurity,” Davis said in a news release. “Guaranteed Income programs treat recipients with dignity in determining how best to spend the money.”

Earlier this year, Chicago announced a guaranteed income pilot program to distribute $500 monthly to 5,000 low-income Chicago households that experienced economic hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Evanston’s guaranteed income pilot is funded by $700,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds, in addition to NU and Evanston’s contributions. Former Ald. Cicely Fleming (9th) and the Evanston Community Foundation worked to direct ARPA funds toward the pilot. 

“It will reimagine, humanize, and strengthen the social safety net; it will also reshape the relationship between people and their government,” Illinois’ director of economic security Harish Patel said. “We hope (Evanton’s) announcement today will inspire more cities across Illinois to adopt similar programs.” 

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