New Diverse Learners Recovery Fund for Chicago Students with Disabilities

June 5th, 2024

A girl with dark skin sits in a wheelchair and smiles as she plays with blocks inside an inclusive classroom for children with physical and intellectual disabilities.

Eligible Chicago families who have children with disabilities in grades K-12 can apply for a chance to receive a one-time grant through Oct. 30

If you live in Chicago and have at least one child with disabilities enrolled in a public or private k-12 school, you may be eligible for a one-time grant.

The Chicago Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities and Ada S. McKinley Community Services has launched the Diverse Learners Recovery Fund for students with disabilities.

The program aims to help families who were uniquely challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The fund will provide one-time grants of $500 to up to 8,000 eligible K-12 students through a lottery. Students with autism, physical and developmental delays and other disabilities may be eligible.

Families can use these funds to pay for things such as medical expenses, supplemental education resources or other accommodations their student needs.

Parents and guardians can apply for the Diverse Learners Recovery Fund grant at through Oct. 30.

Families applying for the grant must:

  • Live in Chicago
  • Have a student currently enrolled in a K-12 public or private school
  • Have an Individualized Education Program (IEP), a 504 Plan, an Individual Support Plan (ISP), or a doctor’s note verifying a disability diagnosis covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Have a household income level at or below 300 percent of the federal poverty level

Families can receive a maximum one-time payment of $500 for one student and $1,000 for two students.

The program will select recipients using a lottery system. All eligible applications will be included in the drawings on:

  • July 1
  • Sept. 16
  • On or after Nov. 30

Submitting an eligible application does not guarantee you will receive the funds. Eligible applications that are not chosen will be included in the following drawing(s).

See the Diverse Learners Recovery Fund flyer for more information on the fund and eligibility requirements. It also has a QR code to apply.

You can also visit the Diverse Learners Recovery Fund for Students with Disabilities website. The site features tools to help with the application process, including:

  • A video
  • Eligibility requirements
  • Frequently asked questions and a chart to help determine the federal poverty level
  • A list of documents necessary to complete your application
  • Contact information (phone and online)

If you’re ready to apply, be sure to set up your Diverse Learners Recovery Fund for Students with Disabilities account online.

The deadline to apply for a chance to receive a grant is Oct. 30.

The program receives funding from The Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLRF) program authorized by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

DCFS Scholarship Opportunity for Current and Former Youth in Care

January 31st, 2024

The annual academic scholarship program is taking applications for the upcoming school year through March 31.

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is currently accepting applications for the 2024 DCFS Scholarship Program. The program offers tuition money and academic fee waivers to current and former youth in care attending Illinois colleges after high school.

The program is available to youth:

  • Who have an open DCFS case
  • Whose cases were closed through adoption or guardianship
  • Who aged out of care at 18 or older

Students interested in attending Illinois trade schools, community colleges, or traditional colleges or universities and who are at least 16 years old on March 31 may apply.

The scholarship application is available online.

Scholarship recipients will receive:

  • Up to five consecutive years of tuition and academic fee waivers to be used at participating Illinois state community colleges and public universities
  • A monthly grant to offset other expenses
  • A medical card

The program will select scholarship recipients based on:

  • Their scholastic record and aptitude
  • Community and extracurricular activities
  • Three letters of recommendation from non-relatives
  • A personal essay illustrating their purpose for higher education

This DCFS Scholarship Program tip sheet has more details about eligibility requirements, available benefits and what the scholarship does not cover.

DCFS encourages students to submit their applications before the March 31 deadline.

Last year, DCFS awarded scholarships to 259 college-bound youth, the most in the agency’s history.

For questions about the application process or for more information, contact the DCFS Office of Education and Transition Services at (217) 557-2689 or

See the 2024 scholarship press release for more details.

Upcoming Education and Scholarship Opportunities for Young Adults with Disabilities

April 7th, 2023

diverse group of college students taking a selfie in a grassy area outdoors on a college campus

Learn more about the Illinois Community College Initiative and 2023 CSBG Scholarship Program

Finding the right programs and resources is key when planning for the future as a young adult with disabilities.

Two programs currently offer valuable education, training and scholarship opportunities for Illinois youth interested in college or joining the workforce after high school.

Illinois Community College Initiative

The Illinois Department of Human Services’ Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) wants to help people with disabilities in their quest for success.

The Illinois Community College Initiative provides academic and vocational training programs for eligible students with disabilities at in-state public community colleges and approved community colleges bordering the state.

People with disabilities who are eligible for the DRS vocational rehabilitation program are eligible to participate. You may complete community college coursework leading to an associate degree or to a degree, certificate or other industry-recognized credential or certificate.

DRS will help you with:

  • Tuition
  • The cost of fees, books and supplies
  • Transportation costs
  • Other eligible costs

See the Illinois Community College Initiative flyer for more details.

Spanish-speaking families can listen to the radio ad or read the ad transcript in Spanish.

Ready to get started? Contact your local DRS office using the locator tool or call (877) 581-3690. TTY and relay callers can dial 711.

2023 C.E.F.S. Economic Opportunity Corporation’s CSBG Scholarship

C.E.F.S. Economic Opportunity Corporation has a scholarship program to help students pay for college or occupational training.

The CSBG College Scholarship program provides financial help to income-eligible students living in the following counties:

  • Christian
  • Clay
  • Effingham
  • Fayette
  • Montgomery
  • Moultrie
  • Shelby

You can use the scholarship to pay for formal education or occupational training in an accredited Illinois educational institution. Training and degrees may include:

  • Associate, bachelor’s or master’s degree, post-secondary education
  • General education, short-term training (two years or less) in growth occupation skills

The CSBG scholarship is competitive and awards students based on:

  • Income
  • The interview process
  • Choosing to go into high technology areas or other growth occupations

Previous scholarship recipients can submit an application. You must be enrolled or intend to enroll as full-time students for the fall 2023 semester in an Illinois-accredited college. Full-time is 12 hours or more.

Click on the CSBG Scholarship application or get an application at your county C.E.F.S. outreach office. The application includes contact information for each local office.

You can also visit the C.E.F.S. website for more information.

You must complete your application and submit all requested documents to your local office by April 14 at 4 p.m.

All eligible candidates will have an interview in May.

Find More Transition Resources

Visit the Transition Tools section of our website to find more programs and information to help with planning and paying for college, getting a job and more.

You can browse the Transition: Education Resources and the Transition: Work Resources categories to find what you need.

Our team is also here to help partner with you and your family to help make the transition to adulthood as successful as possible.

Contact us to find out more!

Award Opportunity for Students Who Fight Ableism in Education

June 9th, 2022

Logo for the Heumann-Armstrong Award 2022 for students with disabilities

The Heumann-Armstrong Award is for students in sixth grade and up, including higher education

Ableism can take many forms. It is discriminating against someone because of their disability. It can also include bullying, isolation or the refusal to give accommodations to a student with a disability.

Like other forms of discrimination, ableism shows up in ways that are both blatant and subtle.

The Heumann-Armstrong Award is for students in sixth grade and up, including higher education, who have experienced and shown a passion for fighting ableism in education.

The American Association for People with Disabilities, The Coelho Center and Equal Opportunities for Students (EOS) sponsor this award program.

The award started in May 2021. It is named for two disability rights champions:

  • Judith (Judy) Heumann, a lifelong and internally recognized advocate for the rights of individuals with disabilities
  • Elijah Armstrong, who has epilepsy and founded the EOS organization to help tell the stories of marginalized students in education

The award program defines a disability as any physical or mental condition that affects how someone attends classes, participates in extracurricular activities or socializes with classmates.

Students can submit an application in writing or by video. All applicants must be willing to do a video interview upon winning the award.

Six individuals will receive an education award that includes a $1,000 prize and a video interview posted on EOS social media platforms. Six semi-finalists will also receive recognition.

See the 2022-23 Heumann-Armstrong Award application page to apply.

You can also check out the Heumann-Armstrong Award frequently asked questions and the 2022-23 award opening video for more details.

The deadline to submit applications is July 22.

If you have questions, contact

Remote Learning Tips and Tools for Families

September 10th, 2020

A brother and sister look at a laptop screen together while doing homework

Resources to help support children and youth of all abilities.

This year’s return to school is a partial or completely virtual experience for many Illinois students amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Parents and caregivers must navigate how to best support their children and make the school year as engaging and beneficial as possible for their unique needs. 

To help families adapt to these unusual circumstances, the Division of Specialized Care for Children team has compiled a list of tips and tools for remote learning in the following categories:

We’ve put these items together in our latest resource roundup newsletter.

You can also find each of these resources and many more learning activities in the “Childcare, Learning and Education Tools” section of our COVID-19 Resource Directory

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