Community and Economic Development Association.

The leading non-profit agency that operates in Cook County is CEDA, or the Community and Economic Development Association. This organization provides some form of assistance to tens of thousands of families per year. Sometimes they offer direct financial aid or services and in other cases referrals are provided to state of Illinois or federal government resources. Some examples of what may be offered by CEDA is below.

Head Start

Head Start and Early Head Start are the main federally funded school readiness programs available anywhere in Illinois. Among other things, they were created in an effort to enhance child growth and development. The programs offer education services, health care, nutrition, food, and other social services. Most of the services offered from Early Head Start and/or Head Start are for pregnant women, infants and children under the age of 5. Assistance is also offered for infants and toddlers with disabilities. There is no cost to the parents or for those families that are accepted into Early Head Start or Head Start.

Parents of the Cook County children will also need to participate and can receive benefits from Head Start. After all the parent(s) are the key to the child’s over leading and development. So CEDA will arrange health, employment assistance (if needed), education and self-sufficiency goals for the parent as well.

CEDA emergency assistance and case management

The Community Services Block Grant is what is used to provide for a number of services for low income families and those facing poverty. After all, the goal of Community and Economic Development Association is to stabilize and support families and get them on the road to stability.

Before proceeding, an intake and assessment process is in place. This will develop an action plan and arrange for ongoing case management to those that qualify. If found to be qualify, you may be able to receive additional financial assistance from CEDA, as noted below.

  • Vision assistance can include exams, glasses, and maybe contacts.
  • Automobile repair assistance is very limited. This program will only be a possibility if a car is needed to improve self-sufficiency, such as for employment, job training, or continuing education in Cook County.
  • Dental vouchers may be issued for an extreme need.




  • Food assistance and family nutrition is supported by Community and Economic Development Association. CEDA partners with local food banks as well as the Greater Chicago Food Depository pantry to ensure families and children get the items they need.
  • Healthcare assistance may be offered in the form of prescription medications or equipment.
  • Scholarship programs may be very rarely offered. Or the non-profit may have referrals to these. While they are rare, applicants need to have demonstrated academic achievement, career potential and educational motivation, among other things.

Any aid from the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) will focus on those who are working towards self-sufficiency. So help provided will come with conditions.

Employment assistance and job training

Several job training programs are administered by Community and Economic Development Association, often in partnership with local non-profits and state resources.

SNAP Employment & Training Program's can help improve an individuals work skills and career prospects. Case managers will help people find a job, participate in training, help with GED, resume-writing and interviewing classes. Some financial assistance can even be provided to pay for work related expenses such as clothing expenses, suits, or transportation to work or training. To learn more, call the Illinois Department of Human Services' Family Community Resource Center or dial 1-800-843-6154.

Work First employment assistance and job training is available for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). It can help individuals with job search, find employment in Cook County, and also help them keep that job.

Some of the services that may be offered as par of Work First include the following. Clients can receive assessments, case management and follow up, linkages to hiring employers, and much more. The training will help them gain valuable employment skills as well. If funding is available, assistance may be offered for child care, transportation, and even work clothing. Dial 1-800-843-6154 for more details on Work First.




Energy bill assistance and conservation

Applications for the Illinois Home Weatherization Assistance Program are processed by Community and Economic Development Association. This will help low income families in Chicago and Cook County make their homes more energy efficiency and therefore reduce their monthly utility bills.

When possible, weatherization provides the home with safety and health updates as well. So what may be provided includes repairs or replacement of heating systems, crawl space insulation, the program seals air bypasses and other drafty areas, increases attic, wall, and floor insulation. For people that are LIHEAP approved, or someone else in your household receives Transitional Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or Aid to the Aged Blind & Disabled (AABD), then that income will qualify them for this program.

Heating or air conditioning bill assistance may be arranged by the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. Grants can be issued by this federally funded program to assist income-eligible households with winter energy services. A one time payment will be issued. This with a medical condition or the very old may receive grants for paying their cooling bills during a hot summer weather stretch. All aid is contingent on the applicant being found qualified and funding levels.

Other energy programs in Cook County are as follows. Case managers from CEDA can advise clients on these and/or provide phone numbers and more information.

  • ComEd Residential Special Hardship Program will provide a credit to qualified households that are facing a crisis or financial hardship. 800-571-2332.
  • Nicor Gas Sharing Program is a program of last resort for the low income that are ineligible for state or federal energy assistance programs. A grant can be issued to help pay for their utility bills.

Food programs in Cook County

The Summer Food Service Program will ensure children and students receive meals, food, and snacks during the summer months. This will mainly benefit those who otherwise depend on free school lunches. The meals provided by CEDA can include breakfast, lunch and snacks and they are served at dozens of locations in Cook County and the Chicago area.

The Meals on Wheels Foundation of Cook County (MOWF) is also referred to as the Community Nutrition Network and Senior Services Association (CNNSSA). The elderly and their spouses may receive home delivered meals. This is run in partnership with the local Area Agency on Aging offices.

WIC, or Women, Infants and Children, can be applied to at the Community and Economic Development Association. This is paid for by the United States Department of Agriculture. It is a supplemental nutrition program focused on providing healthy meals for mothers and their children and infants. Clients of the government funded WIC program are eligible for all benefits, including vouchers for groceries, individual and group education, and even personalized counseling with a nutritionist.

Housing, mortgage, and rental programs from Community and Economic Development Association

Housing, foreclosure, and mortgage assistance programs from CEDA are paid for by local, state, and federal government organizations. They can help residents remain in or move into affordable housing.





If you own a home but are struggling with paying your home loan, then CEDA works with lenders and banks to help the family enter into some type of payment plan. This is an option for people that need mortgage delinquency assistance.

If you rent, then rental assistance may be offered from the Housing Program. The non-profit works with landlords and apartment communities throughout suburban Cook County Illinois to place low income and working poor families in temporary and affordable housing. In addition, in some cases very short term and emergency rental assistance may be provided.

The Illinois Foreclosure Prevention Network is also available. Dial 1-855-KEEP-411. This can put Cook County Illinois homeowners in contact with counseling services, mortgage assistance programs, foreclosure prevention events, free legal advice, and more.

Or homeowners can get help from the Cook County Mediation Programs. This can assist families and individuals that are delinquent in or in default of losing their homes. A housing counselor from CEDA will work closely with the lender to find some type of payment plan that is acceptable for both the borrower and homeowner.

Homeless Prevention services are available, and this can also include Transitional Housing for homeless individuals and families. The non-profit community action agency creates supportive housing and services that will allow people that are behind on their rent and/or homeless live as independently as possible. The program provides self-sufficiency and will help the client achieve residential stability.

Rental programs and transitional housing is also available for Honorably Discharged Veterans in Cook County. CEDA will support our countries heroes and they provide housing services to honorably discharged, homeless veterans. The assistance will help them to achieve residential stability, pay the rent/deposits, and gain housing stability.

The Community and Economic Development Association offices to inquire at for more information include.

North Suburbs - 1300 West Northwest Highway, Mount Prospect, Illinois 60056, (847) 392-2332 or another location is 2010 Dewey Avenue, Evanston, IL 60201, phone (847) 328-5166.

West Suburbs - 6141 West Roosevelt Road, Cicero, IL 60804, Office: (708) 222-3824 or stop by the center at 7666 West 63rd Street, Summit, Illinois 60501, telephone (708) 458-2736.

South Suburbs - 1203 West End Avenue, Chicago Heights, Illinois 60411, Office: (708) 754-4575 or another office is at 3518 West 139th Street, Robbins, Illinois 60472-2002 , (708) 371-1220. The last office is the region is based at 53 East 154th Street, Harvey, Illinois 60426-3645, call (708) 339-3610.


By Jon McNamara

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