Voorhees EDA University Center Receives CARES Supplemental Funding

CARES Act Graphic

After its designation as an EDA University Center and receiving a five-year grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration in 2016, the Natalie P. Voorhees Center for Neighborhood and Community Improvement has now received supplemental funding as part of the CARES Covid-19 response bill. The additional funds will allow the Voorhees Center to work with its Illinois Defense Network (IDN) partners to work on addressing challenges related to COVID-19 specifically impacting the defense sector in the IDN regions.

The supplemental funding draws upon UIC’s designation as an EDA University Center, and will allow the Voorhees Center to further solidify its work with the Illinois Defense Network (IDN) partners. The IDN, a collaboration with the University of Illinois system, the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce, the Chicago Metro Metal Consortium, the Greater Peoria Economic Development Council, and the Rockford Area Economic Development Council, seeks to understand the community and economic development impacts of the defense industry in the IDN regions. CARE funds will be used to support partner community efforts including improving PPE resources, introducing social distancing methods in offices, and updating safety plans.

“We are excited to use our designation as a university center and the relationship we have with the EDA to share these resources to support COVID-19 response efforts,” Yittayih Zelalem, co-director of the Voorhees Center, said. “When these resource became available, we decided to use it to support the work of our partners in this larger geography and strengthen the relationships that have been built.”

In 2016, UIC was chosen as one of 24 U.S. universities to share more than $2.5 million in federal grants from the EDA, an agency within the Department of Commerce. The Voorhees Center has received $54,000 annually (matched by an equal amount by the Provost) to conduct research and technical assistance in workforce development, green industry development, financing strategies, and regional communication and marketing in the Chicagoland area; this work continues with partners such as the Southeast Environmental Task Force, Chicago Southland Economic Development Corporation, and Cook County’s Bureau of Economic Development, and the University of Illinois LABS-based Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute.