030723KP0230CHICAGO – With support from State Senator Celina Villanueva, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity recently announced the latest round of Back to Business grants awarded to businesses in the restaurant industry.

“Local businesses are still working to bounce back, and opportunities like the Back to Business grant program will allow them to maintain a place in their communities,” said Villanueva (D-Chicago). “With these grants, our communities have the chance to grow and thrive.”

The Back to Business grant program provides recovery grants for small businesses throughout the state, with an emphasis on businesses in the hardest hit industries. Through the Back to Business and Business Interruption Grant programs, DCEO has provided over $535 million to more than 15,000 businesses since the start of the pandemic.

Twelve restaurants in Villanueva’s district will receive a combined total of $440,000 through this round of Back to Business grants.

“Local restaurants are necessary for every community,” said Villanueva. “This program allows neighbors to continue supporting one another, ensuring our businesses stay open for years ahead.”

For more information about the Back to Business grant program, visit DCEO’s website.

Category: News

041923KP1774CHICAGO – Deceptive, misleading for-profit, post-secondary institutions will be required to pay back Monetary Award Program (MAP) funding under a new law championed by State Senator Celina Villanueva.

“It is a shame these for-profit organizations utilized MAP funding dishonestly,” said Villanueva (D- Chicago). “These practices have left graduates from for-profit institutions with an average of 12% more student debt than those from private nonprofit colleges.”

Villanueva joined Partnership for College Completion in its initiative to bring House Bill 2898 to life. Since 2014, more than 2,000 for-profit campus locations around the country have closed due to fraudulent activities, including 68 campus closures in Illinois.

Villanueva’s law requires for-profit, post-secondary institutions that have been found committing unfair, misleading or deceptive practices to repay MAP funds to the Illinois Student Assistance Commission.

“It is imperative for-profit institutions are held accountable for their deceptive practices,” said Villanueva. “Students should not have to enter the ‘real world’ worrying about significant debt.”

House Bill 2898 was signed into law Friday and is effective immediately.

Category: News

032923CM1808SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Celina Villanueva championed a newly signed law to allow gender-neutral, multi-occupancy restrooms to be installed in private and public businesses.

“Businesses now have the autonomy to decide how to best show up for their communities,” said Villanueva (D-Chicago). “The inclusivity of this law not only benefits members of the LBGTQ community, but also those with disabilities, the elderly, and people with young children.”

A 2020 law, required that all single occupancy public bathrooms in Illinois become gender neutral.

House Bill 1286 expands on that law, allowing businesses to create gender-neutral multi-occupancy restrooms. However, the legislation is permissive – gender specific multiple-occupancy restrooms are still allowed.

Gender-neutral, multi-occupancy restrooms would be required to include inclusive signage, floor to ceiling stall dividers with locking mechanisms, trash receptacles in each stall, a menstruation supplies vending device, a baby changing station, and be ADA compliant. 

“Today we have taken a monumental step to promote privacy, safety and gender inclusivity,” said Villanueva. “We are signaling to parents, caregivers and many other people across the state that their voice matters.”

House Bill 1286 was signed into law Friday.

Category: News

051023CM0592SPRINGFIELD - State Senator Celina Villanueva championed a newly signed law to prevent students from taking advantage of loopholes to qualify for need-based financial aid for college.

“Students who are legitimately eligible for financial aid fear not receiving such assistance at the hands of others taking part of a guardianship change scam,” said Villanueva (D-Chicago). “It’s disheartening that people are using this tactic to essentially take away aid from students who need it.”

Senate Bill 195 is a direct response to previous public reports that Illinois students became eligible for need-based education financial assistance through the practice of "opportunity hoarding." Opportunity hoarding is the practice of exploiting a loophole in the Probate Act by transferring legal guardianship from a parent to a relative or friend in lower income brackets or by declaring financial independence.

In 2019 alone, approximately 82,000 students eligible for a state grant for low-income students didn’t receive it because there wasn’t enough money. Many higher education officials believe the increase in guardianship change is at fault.

Villanueva’s law will prevent guardianship changes if the primary purpose is to reduce the financial resources available for them to qualify for need-based financial aid.

“The students of tomorrow need our help today,” said Villanueva. “I will continue to fight for more equitable educational resources and stand up for the disadvantaged students who have fallen victim to a lack of assistance because of this loophole.”

Senate Bill 195 was signed into law Friday.

Category: News

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Office Info

Springfield Office:
Senator 11th District
623 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706

District Office:
2501 S. Central Park Ave.
Chicago, IL 60623