American Rescue Plan Act
low-level alert: View the recently developed Roadmap to Recovery: Cook County’s American Rescue Plan 2021 Performance Report
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 2021 Performance Report. A full version is available in the “Downloads” section on the right of this page and contains additional information including 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 will use an equity lens to guide its SLFRF allocations to promote racial equity and sustainable impacts across the County. Beyond building on CRF best practices, Cook County’s plan for its ARPA funds will incorporate the following six policy priorities as detailed in its Policy Roadmap:
- Health and Wellness
- Economic Development
- Criminal Justice
- Environment and Sustainability
- Public Infrastructure
- Good Government
Cook County is currently in its planning phase for the ARPA SLFRF received from the Department of Treasury. The planning framework reflects core County principles, including a focus on making progress toward racial equity throughout the County, the County 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.
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.
While most ARPA-funded initiatives are not yet selected, equity is central in the screening criteria for each project or program that will be evaluated by the County. Each proposed initiative will be evaluated for its equity impact within the community with the exception of initiatives classified under Expenditure Categories 6.1 Provision of Government Services (revenue replacement) and 7.1 Administrative Expenses.
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 will be 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.
The exact geographic and demographic distribution of funding is not yet established while Cook County continues to identify initiatives to best suit its residents. Future reports will include additional information on the distribution of funding with the County.
Cook County has initiated a robust community engagement process to hear directly from residents about how the funding should be allocated. Allocation will build on best practices introduced with the County’s successful distribution of the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) in 2020.
With the help of the Civic Consulting Alliance, Cook County is hard at work planning how we will invest American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding. As you can imagine, a great deal of work goes into a $1 billion spending plan and we want to do it right: in an open, honest and transparent manner. The first step of this process is engagecookcounty.com. This website is 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. Visit the website to find upcoming town halls and listening sessions you can attend to learn more and share your priorities with Cook County.
Based on preliminary discussions with employees, partners, and other stakeholders, a number of major themes for ARPA funds have already begun to emerge. These themes include:
- Supporting healthy, thriving communities
- Providing services for vulnerable residents
- Driving equitable recovery and growth
- Strengthening local governments
- Investing in key infrastructure
- Supporting the metropolitan region
Cook County will review collective feedback received from all stakeholders including the community, align it with its established priorities, and design the County’s ARPA spending plans which will be integrated into the FY22 (and beyond) budgets for Board approval.
Residents or groups who would like to receive information on partnering on this community engagement process or have questions can email ARPA@cookcountyil.gov.
Please check back soon for updates on our community engagement efforts.