Chicago Commons Faces ‘Head-Start’ Cuts

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - EducationChicago Commons, which in 1897 opened one of Chicago’s first kindergartens, is reeling from a five percent ($300,000) sequestration cut to its nationally acclaimed head-start program that may result in fewer head start slots and fewer teachers. This cut will be rolled out in the new fiscal year starting July 1 over 12 months. The new cuts are in addition to $117,000 in cuts this fiscal year ending June 30.

Chicago Commons is a 118-year old non-profit working in some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods including, Back of the Yards, Grand Boulevard, Pilsen and Humboldt Park. Ironically, these funding cuts come just months after President Obama’s State of the Union address where he championed head-start and advocated for the program’s expansion Of course, all this was before the sequester began March 1 and sent reverberations through head-start programs nationwide.

To maintain its normal number of head start slots, a group of staff members took the incredible step of volunteering to take a two percent salary cut to their modest salaries to help offset the loss in federal funds. Chicago Commons was able to prevent this from happening, but is running out of options with each day the sequester slogs on.

Catrina Jackson, a parent who is now a Chicago Commons staff member, credits the organization for putting her children on the path to success: Darlene, 20, attends University of Illinois; Christina, 15, an active high school student who excels in athletics; Amber, 14, dreams of becoming a veterinarian; and 4-year old, Judah, a bright preschooler. Catrina’s story is one of hundreds of success stories in the organization’s history. To find out more about Chicago Commons, visit

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