Getting Ready to Go!

Free Resources

This is a roundup of free resources available to Chicago graduated seniors.

“I don’t care how much money you have, free stuff is always a good thing.”

-Queen Latifah, actress and musician

  • mRelief – Do You Need Help with Food Benefits?
    • mRelief can help you find out if you qualify in just a few minutes and support you through an efficient application process within one to two weeks without ever having to wait in line in a government office for hours and hours.
    • You can also text “Food” to 74544 to verify your eligibility by phone.

    Hear from Jainiqua how she used mRelief to take care of food expenses!

  • Swipe Out Hunger
    • Swipe Out Hunger is the leading nonprofit addressing hunger among college students. Check out their Campus Partners to find out if your school can offer any addtional support.
  • Chicago Moves – Transportation Assistance
    • Chicago Moves is a financial assistance program aimed at providing financial relief for Chicago residents struggling with transportation expenses.  By applying to this program, you have the opportunity to receive a $150 prepaid gas card or a $50 prepaid transit cards.
  • Utility Bill Assistance
    • The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) helps eligible low-income households pay for home energy services (primarily heating during winter months). Energy costs can place severe and continuing stress on a family’s budget. 
  • WIC (Women Infant Children Program)
    • WIC-Women Infant Children is a federal funded program implemented by the City of Chicago Department of Public Health that provides pregnant, breastfeeding, postpartum women,
      children and infants with nutrition assistance.
  • Free Fitness Membership – Planet Fitness is offering a free summer fitness pass for teens
  • BridgeToSuccess
    • Bridge to Success is a non profit organization that provides interview and workplace appropriate clothing to low income, no income men, women and youth in Chicago.
  • Chicago Chesed Fund
      • Chicago Chesed Fund is the one place that Chicago’s families and individuals know they can turn to for guidance, support, and assistance. They offer many different types of services from essential home items, food pantry, financial assistance, medical assistance, and more!
  • The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)
    • The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) program that replaces the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBB Program) to help low-income households pay for internet service and connected devices.

      If your household is eligible, you can receive:

      • Up to a $30/month discount on your internet service
      • Up to a $75/month discount if your household is on qualifying Tribal lands
      • A one-time discount of up to $100 for a laptop, tablet, or desktop computer (with a co-payment of more than $10 but less than $50)

      Only one monthly service discount and one device discount is allowed per household. To receive the connected device discount, consumers need to enroll in the ACP with a participating provider that offers connected devices (Note: not all internet company offer device discounts.) The internet company will provide the discount to the consumer.

      To check if you qualify, click on this link!

      Click Apply Now today!

  • Chicago Connected 
    • is a groundbreaking program that provides no-cost, high-speed internet service to CPS students and their families. This first-of-its-kind program will be one of the largest efforts by any city to provide internet access for students.
    • Families with students enrolled in CPS are eligible to sign up for free high-speed internet through July 1, 2024.
    • Check your eligibility here.  You will need to use your CPS Student ID as your activation code. This can be found on your report cards, progress reports, parent portal, student ID card or simply call your school for assistance.
    • If you are a CPS senior that has not applied for this program, do so today before you graduate so that you can continue to use this free resource while transitioning into your post-graduation plan!
  • Comp-U-Dopt

    • Laptop Lottery: Comp-U-Dopt’s programs serve to increase equitable access to computers, facilitate growth in technical and digital literacy skills and support the future of youth in our communities.  Comp-U-Dopt has set up a reconditioned computer drive-thru (where you can adopt a computer at no cost) for community members who do not own a computer at home. To qualify, you must not own a working computer at home, and you must have a child in K-20 education (meaning kindergarten through college) in the Chicago or Northern Illinois area. 
    • Visit the Comp-U-Dopt website to learn more about their lottery system HERE or go directly to complete their lottery form for CPS graduates here.
    • Not a Guarantee But You Can Improve Your Chances: Remember that filling out the form does not guarantee you a computer! It enters you into a randomized lottery for over 1000 reconditioned computers that will be distributed until their supply has been exhausted so the earlier you apply, the higher your chances. Time is of the essence for this opportunity.
    • Be prepared: You will be asked for information including: your address, your household income, the number of people in your household, whether or not you already own a computer and if you have to share it with others, what high school you graduated from (this is important because some high schools have a greater distribution of laptops due to specific grant funding), your graduation year, your post-graduation plans, your intended college or employer.
    • It is very important to include your cell phone number. If you are chosen at random, communication regarding picking up your reconditioned computer will come through Comp-U-Dopt via text messaging services.

    CPS Grad Lottery (General CPS Graduate)

  • Pcs For People 
    • PCs for People is centered on getting low-cost computers and affordable broadband internet into the homes of low-income individuals.
  • TruConnect
    • TruConnect is giving Free Android Devices to households that qualify for the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program. You can receive up to 14GB of Monthly Data and an Android device if you qualify.

There are many different mutual aid groups that have cropped up all over the city serving specific neighborhoods as well as general requests from those in need. Here are a few around the city.

  • Hyde Park Covid-19 Emergency Fund Resource Outreach (60615, 60637, 60649)
    • Resource Request Form
    • All requests will be open for collection for 2 weeks or until 100% of funds are received.
    • Anyone living in Hyde Park and the surrounding communities is able to request assistance. (Priority will be given to those in 60637, 60615, and 60649, but all requests will be considered if funds allow).
  • Greater Chicago Food Depository
  • Brave Space Alliance
    • Chicago’s only black and trans-led LGBTQ center
    • Food Pantry
  • Personal Statement is an Emmy nominated feature-length documentary in which three high school seniors struggle to get themselves and their peers to college.
  • #WeBelongInCollege is a social media campaign that grew out of the PERSONAL STATEMENT impact campaign and encourages students to share their stories of struggle & triumph so that all students know that #WeBelongInCollege. Watch a few of their videos below!

Eboni’s Story About Considering College During the Pandemic

Olivia’s Story About All the Sacrifices Seniors Had to Make Due to COVID

Jose’s Story About Feeling Unprepared for College

Enoch’s Story About Financial Aid Challenges

Daniela’s Story About College Application Challenges and Advice

Ana Ama’s Story About Feeling Scared and Not Worthy of Going to College, Dealing With Rejection

Thalia’s Story About Being a First Generation Student

Victoria’s Story About Dealing w/Racism During Her College Preparation Process

Darius’ Story About Dealing w/Racism During College in Oklahoma

  • View other students’ powerful #WeBelongInCollege stories HERE
  • If you are interested in watching the full Personal Statement documentary, please fill out this form and request a free streaming link!

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