American Rescue Plan Act
low-level alert: View the new 2022 American Rescue Plan Performance Report below
Roadmap to Recovery: Cook County's American Rescue Plan
Below is an overview of the recently developed Roadmap to Recovery: Cook County’s American Rescue Plan 2022 Performance Report. A full version is available in the “Downloads” section as is the 2021 report on the right of this page. These documents contain additional information on how other federal funds have been allocated.
Cook County’s plan for use of its American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA) State & Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) to promote a response to the pandemic and economic recovery is grounded in its core values of equity, engagement, and excellence. Cook County continues to use an equity lens to guide its SLFRF allocations to promote racial equity and sustainable impacts across the county. To that end, Cook County launched a robust community engagement process to hear directly from residents about how funding should be allocated. A central theme is the commitment to ensuring Cook County is a welcoming community and reaches all residents, including those who are often marginalized.
Cook County’s plan for its ARPA funds responds to the recommendations and requirements outlined by the Treasury in the Final Rule and incorporates the following six policy priorities as detailed in Cook County’s Policy Roadmap:
- Health and Wellness
- Economic Development
- Criminal Justice
- Environment and Sustainability
- Public Infrastructure
- Good Government
Cook County intends to allocate the approximately $1 billion in ARPA funding across three fiscal years, distributing funds based on the County’s six policy pillars. The planning framework reflects core County principles, including a focus on making progress toward racial equity throughout the county, the policy priorities identified above, the need for increased capacity within the County to support timely design, implementation, community engagement and compliance reporting of the programs created through ARPA funding, and support for local governments. The driving core principles for the uses of the funds include the following key components:
- Target ARPA funding to support County policy priorities;
- Center decision-making on core values of equity, engagement, and excellence;
- Build on foundation of existing County and regional efforts, including Cook County Policy Roadmap: Five-Year Strategic Plan for Offices Under the President, the Cook County Equity Fund and We Rise Together;
- Avoid duplication of resources; leverage existing efforts and infrastructure;
- Maximize all ARPA funding by cross-mapping initiatives against more restrictive funding streams first;
- Implement best practices from the COVID-19 response.
- Stand-up additional capacity, infrastructure, and expertise early;
- Offer technical assistance to local governments regarding effective administration of ARPA Funds;
- Maintain flexibility to reallocate funding as needs and federal guidance evolve;
- Use one-time funds for one-time uses, or have a path to sustainability.
There are four main funding categories the County intends to provide SLFRF money towards:
Near-Term Funding Opportunities
Cook County will focus initial funding decisions on Near Term Funding Opportunities or providing money to expand existing COVID-19 response programs and initiating short-term projects able to be stood up within six months. These initiatives are fully functional programs aligned with the core principles listed above; specific initiatives to receive funding have not yet been selected.
Transformative Initiatives are proposed by stakeholders across the county including Cook County Commissioners, Bureau Chiefs, County Partner organizations, and from our community engagement channels. These ideas are intended to be long-term projects, impacting generations to come, to build the resiliency and recovery of the County. Each initiative will align with the core principles and screened by Policy Teams, comprised of experts on the Policy Roadmap Pillars.
County Operations, Program Administration, and Contingencies
The County is in the process of calculating its replacement of public sector revenue loss. Calculated annual revenue loss will provide allocations for additional County personnel necessary to support equitable, efficient deployment of ARPA-funded programs as well as additional support for County staff, eligible capital requests, and other program administration costs necessary to efficiently and effectively manage the SLFRF monies.
Technical Assistance and Support for Local Governments to Administer ARPA Funds
Cook County is also providing technical assistance to municipalities in Suburban Cook County to assist their management and administration of the SLFRF funds each municipality received from the Treasury Department. A series of webinars, office hours, and a newsletter are already being provided to the County’s local units of government as well as direct access to Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to provide additional eligibility reviews of expenses and guidance on reporting compliance.
Identification and Approval of Projects
Beginning in the summer of 2021, the County led an extensive process to identify proposals addressing the most urgent County needs. These ideas for SLFRF spending stemmed from a variety of stakeholders, including County Commissioners, County Bureaus, non-profit partners, community surveys, separately elected officials and advisory bodies such as the Equity Fund Taskforce.
This process resulted in 426 proposals submitted for the County’s consideration. In its next phase, the County provided its established Policy Pillar Teams, groups of about 10-20 subject matter experts in each of the six policy priorities, with each proposal for evaluation. All proposals were reviewed collaboratively, incorporating multiple evaluation criteria and metrics through a multi-phased approach. The various review committees worked to identify overlapping proposal ideas and merge ideas, ultimately advancing proposals aligned to the County’s priorities. Policy Pillar Teams took into account the equity focus of each proposal in evaluation in addition to program goals and design. After proposal refinement and prioritization, Teams voted upon the proposals submitted through the proposal identification process.
Proposals that advanced from the Policy Pillar Teams were then considered by the Executive Leadership Council (ELC), a collection of Bureau Chiefs and Department Heads, together with County leadership who further prioritized and approved these proposals holistically across all six Policy Pillars. There are currently 78 community initiatives which the ELC deemed as addressing County priorities.
Major investments to households include: the creation of the nation’s largest publicly funded guaranteed income initiative, housing assistance, utility bill assistance and funding to alleviate medical debt. Furthermore, additional funding will be going to healthcare and health access initiatives, justice initiatives, violence prevention programs, economic development and small business grant programs, infrastructure improvements and environmental projects. These targeted investments will help support communities across Cook County and its millions of residents.
Promoting Equitable Outcomes
The County understands the need for qualitative and quantitative data demonstrating how equity is incorporated throughout the lifecycle of a project, from selection and design to implementation. The County’s goal is to distribute ARPA funds to projects and initiatives which promote an equitable recovery to populations that have been historically disinvested and/or disproportionally impacted by COVID-19.
The County is leveraging several established equity models including its own Equitable Distribution Model, components of The Racial Equity 2030 scoring model, socio-economic outcomes that advance racial equity from PolicyLink’s For Love of Country: A Path for the Federal Government to Advance Racial Equity report and the Cook County COVID-19 Community Vulnerability Index (CCVI). Each selected project for funding will incorporate components of these models to assess their impact on equity in the region.
Once selected for funding, projects are being designed by experts to account for equity throughout the duration of the initiative’s lifecycle. Each project will have a mission statement addressing its impact in the community, including its promotion of equitable outcomes.
American Rescue Plan Act At A Glance
Cook County received more than $1 billion through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The County managed a robust process to develop a responsible, comprehensive, and equitable spending plan to use ARPA one-time resources to support both immediate recovery needs and long-term transformative initiatives. This At A Glance provides an overview of the proposed spending plan for the next year being presented to the Cook County Board of Commissioners.
American Rescue Plan Act Community Engagement Report
On July 4, 2021, Cook County launched a website and interactive survey for the community to provide input on needs and priorities for ARPA funding. This was part of a tiered and robust community engagement process to solicit input and feedback from a broad and diverse group of residents and stakeholders across Cook County. Cook County also produced a Community Engagement Report analyzing feedback Cook County received from online surveys and a series of town hall meetings and listening sessions. It is the first in what will be a series of such reports, as the County intends to secure ongoing public feedback throughout the three-year process of allocating funds.