DuPage County has been recognized with three Achievement Awards from the National Association of Counties (NACo). The awards honor innovative, effective county government programs that strengthen services for residents.
The County received three awards from NACo for the Reinvest DuPage Small Business Grant Program, the DuPage Community Transformation Partnership, and the 18th Judicial Circuit Court's Eviction Mediation Program.
"DuPage County is proud to be a leader and to provide creative and innovative programs. We are grateful for the recognition from NACo and for the opportunity to share information about these initiatives with government leaders across the nation," said County Board Chair Deborah Conroy.
Each year, NACo's Achievement Awards are given in 18 categories that reflect the vast, comprehensive services counties provide. The categories include children and youth, criminal justice and public safety, county administration, information technology, health, civic engagement and more. Launched in 1970, the program is designed to recognize innovation in county government. Each nominated program is judged on its own merits and not against other applications.
"The Achievement Awards demonstrate excellence in county government and the commitment to serve our residents every day," said NACo President Denise Winfrey. "This year's winners represent some of the most innovative and collaborative efforts we have seen in over 50 years of presenting these awards."
Reinvest DuPage Small Business Grant Program
Shortly after the COVID-19 public health emergency began in 2020, the DuPage County Board set aside federal relief funds to assist the small business community, which was struggling with the fallout of stay-at-home orders and social distancing.
DuPage County partnered with Choose DuPage to act quickly and efficiently to provide nearly $36.7 million to more than 2,000 small businesses to assist in recovery efforts. The response from businesses was overwhelmingly positive, with many saying that without these relief funds, their businesses would have permanently closed.
"We heard from the business community about their need for help, and this program showed that DuPage County was a valuable resource for businesses in need. Reinvest DuPage had a lasting impact, relieving financial distress and better positioning the local business community for recovery in a post-COVID economy," said Finance Committee Chair Liz Chaplin.
DuPage Community Transformation Partnership
In 2022, DuPage County and the DuPage Foundation created the partnership to address immediate and long-term needs for the community. The Board provided $10 million to the program to address food insecurity, housing instability, mental health, and substance use disorder.
Immediate intervention grants, those proposals that addressed urgent needs with immediate implementation, resulted in 18 agencies receiving just over $1.1 million. Transformational grants, those proposals that outlined increases in capacity, efficiency, or otherwise transformed service delivery systems, resulted in 17 agencies receiving just under $3.9 million for a two-year period.
"This partnership provides meaningful change and relief directly to residents who struggled with the economic and social impacts of COVID-19. We're pleased this wonderful program has received national recognition and we're grateful to the DuPage Foundation for their partnership through the partnership's rollout," said Human Services Committee Chairman Greg Schwarze.
18th Judicial Eviction Mediation Program
The Eviction Mediation Program is designed to help mitigate the surge of evictions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, and the ensuing economic fallout. Its goal is to assist tenants and landlords in avoiding eviction and pursuing mutually beneficial alternatives.
The Program provides tenants and landlords with referrals to community resources such as rental assistance programs, housing sufficiency programs, free or affordable legal assistance, and mediation services. The mediation component of the Program provides the parties to an eviction case with a confidential process whereby a neutral mediator, appointed by the Court, assists the litigants in reaching a mutually acceptable agreement.
Since its launch in October 2021, the Program has provided mediation for 543 cases with a 71 percent success rate.
"This is a phenomenal collaboration between the Circuit Court, DuPage County Community Services department, and Prairie State Legal Services," said Kenneth Popejoy, Chief Judge of DuPage County's 18th Judicial Circuit Court. "We brought legal resources and information regarding rental assistance funds to the courtroom so parties can access these resources both remotely over Zoom and in-person. This innovative response to an extraordinary public health crisis has allowed the Courts to promote access to justice for both parties during such unprecedented times."
For more information about NACo's Achievement Awards, click here.