• McGuire, Bertino-Tarrant to lead Senate hearing on COVID-19 response in schools

    school temp 092920WHO:Senate Higher Education Committee Chairman Pat McGuire, Senate Education Committee Chairwoman Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford, members of the Senate Education and Higher Education Committees

    WHAT:Joint Senate hearing on education funding and COVID-19 response in K-12 schools

    WHEN:12 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020

    WHERE:Virtual meeting. Watch via the Illinois General Assembly website at

    JOLIET– Senate Education Committee Chair Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant and Senate Higher Education Committee Chair Pat McGuire will lead the third joint Senate committee hearing tomorrow on the topic of COVID-19 response in schools and school funding.

    “Illinois is committed to ensuring that every student receives a quality education, regardless of ZIP code. However, whether a family is afflicted with COVID-19 is greatly influenced by ZIP code. We've got to figure out how to untangle this,” said McGuire (D-Joliet).

    “We need to ensure all of Illinois’ children receive the opportunity to be successful, especially during this awful pandemic,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “I look forward to hearing from advocates and experts to devise a strategy to improve educational outcomes and learning experiences for students across the state.”

    The hearing is the latest in the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus’ agenda-building series of hearings, tackling the topics of education, economic access, criminal justice, and health care.

    “I am deeply concerned for the impact the COVID-19 pandemic will have on the already troubling achievement gap that exists. We need to be equipped with the proper data to ensure we are making the right decisions to keep students on track,” said Kimberly Lightford, Senate Majority Leader and ILBC Chair (D-Chicago). “That effort will directly tie into school funding and making sure school districts have the resources to address the inequities exacerbated by our current crisis.”

    People can submit written witness testimony online at:

    To watch the virtual Senate committee, visit and click, "Watch Live Virtual Committee Video." The link will be available at 12 p.m.

  • Lightford appalled by low proficiency rates among Black children

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  • Black Caucus outraged at lack of accountability for Breonna Taylor’s killers

    breonnataylor3 092320CHICAGO—Members of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus spoke out Wednesday on news that a grand jury failed to indict three Louisville officers, Brett Hankison, Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove, for killing Breonna Taylor in her sleep in March. Ex-police officer Brett Hankison was indicted on three counts of wanton endangerment, and the other officers face no charges.

    State Senator Kimberly A. Lightford, ILBC Chair

    “The charges are devastatingly unbefitting of Breonna Taylor’s tragic death. The sheer lack of accountability for the officers who killed Breonna is yet another clear example of how the justice system does not protect Black lives,” Lightford said. “We share the frustration and anger of our fellow community members and the activists who are tired of the rampant injustice in our justice system.

  • Lightford: Breonna Taylor deserved to live

    breonnataylor 092320CHICAGO – Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) issued the following statement in reaction to Detective Brett Hankinson being charged with three counts of wanton endangerment in the first degree in the murder of Breonna Taylor in her Louisville apartment on March 13. No charges were brought against Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove, the other two officers involved in the shooting.

    “It is impossible to express the weight of the injustices and cruelty carried out against the Black community throughout the history of our country. When an officer can justify the murder of Breonna Taylor as legal, moral and ethical, then walk away with nothing more than a slap on the wrist, there can be no doubt that Black women do not matter in our country today.


  • Senate committee hearing to focus on Black Caucus’ education agenda

    black college student 092320JOLIET– To continue efforts to address structural racial inequality in Illinois, the Senate will hold a joint Education and Higher Education Committee tomorrow.

    “As chair of the Higher Education Committee, I've learned that the foundation for successful post-secondary education is built early in one's life,” said Senate Higher Education Committee Chairman Pat McGuire (D-Crest Hill). “Tomorrow's hearing will explore how to provide that foundation for every Illinois child.”

    The committee serves as another step in building the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus’ agenda for the upcoming legislative session. Education is one of four major policy areas the ILBC is targeting this year, along with criminal justice, health care, and economic access.

  • Black Caucus demands racial equity at all levels of education and workforce development

    Sen. Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford

    CHICAGO — The Illinois Legislative Black Caucus called for equitable resources for Black students who have been historically marginalized and underserved in a press conference on Wednesday at Chicago State University, prior to a scheduled Senate committee hearing on the matter.

    The Black Caucus discussed their efforts to develop an agenda to overcome racial disparities in early childhood education, K-12 education, higher education and workforce training.

    ILBC Chairman Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) said Black students deserve to have the same quality of education as students of any other race in the state.

  • Black Caucus agenda to take on racial disparity in education and workforce development

    black student 091620CHICAGO—In response to longstanding racial disparities in early childhood education, K-12 education, higher education, and other forms of workforce training, the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus will discuss their developing agenda to provide equitable resources to students in Black communities throughout the state at a press conference at Chicago State University on Wednesday.

    Education is the second of four major policy pillars the Black Caucus is focusing on to develop their legislative agenda. They include:

    • Criminal justice reform, violence reduction and police accountability
    • Education and workforce development
    • Economic access, equity and opportunity
    • Health care and human services

    A virtual joint hearing on education and higher education will follow the press conference at noon on Wednesday. The Black Caucus plans to have a series of hearings for each of the pillars. A hearing for the first pillar was already held. It focused on police accountability.

    Who:Illinois Legislative Black Caucus

    When: Sept. 16, 10 a.m.

    Where: The press conference will be held at Chicago State University located at 9501 South King Dr., in the 4th floor auditorium of the Gwendolyn Brooks Library. It can also be viewed on, a subscription-based service.

  • Lightford, Black Caucus to build a Black agenda through four pillars

    lightford 090220CHICAGO –Senate Majority Leader and Chair of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) joined colleagues at the Westside Justice Center on Tuesday to announce a plan to build a legislative agenda that addresses systemic racism in Illinois.

    “We have an opportunity to leverage this moment to make sure other Black women, Black mothers and Black wives just like me can truly have peace, justice and hope for our future, knowing that our children and our grandchildren will not share the same kind of life experiences that everyone in my generation and generations before me have had to endure,” Lightford said.

  • Black Caucus seeks to develop agenda to overcome centuries of oppression

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  • Black Caucus: Our prayers go out to Jacob Blake and his family

    blackcaucus 012920 2SPRINGFIELD—The Illinois Legislative Black Caucus (ILBC) responded to an incident in Kenosha, Wisc. where officers shot Jacob Blake in the back seven times at point blank range. The footage of the Sunday afternoon shooting has been shared widely, and has continued protests against police brutality across the country. Senate Majority Leader and Chair of the ILBC Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood released the following statement:

    “Mr. Blake exemplified community by taking the initiative to deescalate a domestic dispute, and somehow he ended up being shot by an officer multiple times. I do not know how to explain that, but I do know that this is not what public safety looks like.


  • Village of Maywood awarded grant through Fast-Track Public Infrastructure Program

    water main 082120CHICAGO To increase awareness of economic development in underserved communities, Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) announced the Village of Maywood will receive a grant through the Fast-Track Public Infrastructure Capital program. 

    “I would like to thank Governor Pritzker for consistently prioritizing communities with the most need,” Lightford said. “It’s necessary to lead from a perspective that prioritizes underserved areas while also addressing the need for growth beyond the pandemic.”

    The Fast Track program was created by the state to provide emergency assistance for businesses and communities facing economic hardship during the COVID-19 public health crisis. Currently, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity has launched more than $300 million in emergency relief programs, with most of the funding available for businesses. 

    The Village of Maywood was awarded $382,375 to replace its water main. The funding for the Fast Track program comes from the Illinois statewide construction plan, known as Rebuild Illinois. Eligible applicants were required to prove projects were located in an undeserved area, had Business Enterprise Program inclusion plans, and could start within 90 days after being awarded. 

    To find out other cities that have been awarded the Fast-Track grant, click here.  

  • Lightford hosts 11th Annual Back-to-School event

    lightford schoolfair 081920BROOKFIELD –Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) held her 11th Annual Back-to-School event August 9 at Brookfield Zoo.

    “Due to the public health crisis, we had to do the event a little differently, so we had a parade for the community. A number of cars came through to get supplies, literature, information, backpacks, snacks and food,” Lightford said.

    Participants were asked to stay in their vehicles as they drove around the lot and received the different giveaways at a number of stops along the way. There was also a DJ playing music at the center of the lot to entertain families as they picked up supplies.

    Nearly 100 cars drove through the back-to-school parade. Lightford’s office has distributed 1,000 backpacks with supplies.

    “Our kids are the most important to me, and I want to make sure they know that regardless of if they are at home or if they are in school, it is important that they get a good, quality education,” Lightford said. “A good education opens doors, and I want them and their families to know that I support them on 100% on getting that education.”

    The event was sponsored by Meijer, Proviso Leyden Council for Community Action, the Community and Economic Development Association of Cook County, Counting on Chicago Coalition, Stand for Children, Peoples Gas, Ameren, Marc Realty, Black Star Project, Illini Healthcare, PepsiCo, Nicor Gas, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Proviso Township Census.

  • Lightford protects workers under new law

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  • Lightford reinstated as ILBC Chair

    lightford 041120CHICAGO –Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) has been reinstated as Chair of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus after a vote that rejected her resignation that was submitted in May.

    “Since I initially offered my resignation as Chairman of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, the world has changed.

  • Lightford honors the life of Congressman John Lewis

    johnlewis 072020CHICAGO – Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) released the following statement in response to the loss of Congressman John Lewis Friday night.

    “We lost a giant in the fight for civil rights. Congressman John Lewis unapologetically and fiercely fought for the rights of Black people and every marginalized population in our country. He carried on the dream that Dr. Martin Luther King first manifested in 1963 to his dying day, and we have to continue to carry that vision until it is reality.

  • Lightford remembers Joyce Ann Runnels Simmons and her commitment to the 4th Senate District

    lightford 032019MAYWOOD – With a heavy heart, Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) celebrates the life of her former 4th Senate District staff and long-time family friend, Joyce Ann Runnels Simmons, who passed away on July 7. Lightford released the following statement to commemorate her life after she was laid to rest on Tuesday:

    “Ms. Joyce moved next door when I was 7 years old, and our families have continued to grow a bond since then. She was like an aunt to me, and she supported me long before I had any idea where my life would go. Her ability to make everyone she encountered feel loved will be remembered by all of us who had the honor of knowing her.

    “When I had the opportunity to hire her in my district office, I was overjoyed to have her caring presence there and give my constituents the opportunity to experience her loving nature. She was dedicated to the 4th Senate District as a staff person and later as a member of my 4th District Women’s Committee.

    “Our family is deeply saddened by the loss of Ms. Joyce, but we find peace in the memories, the way she made us feel and her unwavering faith in God. My condolences go out to her husband, Charles, and her three children, Charles Jr., Derrick and LaShaun, and the rest of her beautiful family.”

  • Lightford encourages school districts to apply for COVID-19 relief education grants

    student laptop 071620CHICAGO – The Illinois State Board of Education received $569 million through the federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund, and Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) is encouraging districts to apply.

    In total, $512 million allocated by ISBE will go directly to Illinois school districts. The funds will support their local response to the COVID-19 pandemic while also preparing schools for unique challenges of the upcoming school year.

    “Children in disproportionate communities have been at an unfair disadvantage during the pandemic,” Lightford said, “Being unable to continue your education without the adequate tools should not be a punishment. Schools should take advantage of these grants to make sure children are staying ahead.”

    The remaining ESSER funds will be divided into seven categories and will allocate $33.3 million for laptops and tablets, $7.1 million for internet connectivity, $6.5 million for virtual coaching in support of an estimated 4,000 new teachers entering the teacher profession in the fall, $6.5 million for professional development, $2.8 million for state administration and $685,000 for entities unable to receive funds due to ineligibility for the federal Title I program.

    More than $80 million of the combined GEER and ESSER funds will be used to close the digital divide for K-12 students. A total of $20.5 million will fund training for K-12 educators and families.

    ISBE will be hosting an ESSER webinar on July 23. Click here to register. The application for the GEER and ESSER grant opens on August 14. Click here to apply.

  • Lightford pushes youth employment service providers to apply for grant program

    Senator LightfordCHICAGO – With deep concern for young people facing high rates of unemployment due to the COVID-19 crisis, Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) encourages youth employment service providers to apply for grants to help provide more jobs and support to those in need.

    “Youth employment is a continuing issue that has put our young people in even more difficult situations because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Lightford said. “That is why it is important that we are investing these dollars in communities that need the support the most.”

    Lightford worked with the Department of Human Services to ensure the Illinois Youth Investment Program grants are targeted to provide jobs and support for people ages 16 to 24 in some of the most underserved communities across the state.

    The Illinois Youth Investment Program, administered by DHS, supports at-risk youth who are seeking long-term, career employment. Providers interested in serving young people in their area can apply for grants through Aug. 3 online at DHS’ website.

    “Our youth play significant roles in our society, and providing job opportunities will ensure their success,” Lightford said. “There are young people helping support their household, maintaining their own households and working toward their future. We have a responsibility to not let their ambition go to waste, and that is why I encourage service providers to engage in this work.”

    Grants are awarded to providers who can assist at-risk youth with short-term, long-term and industry-specific career development opportunities. In addition to employment support, IYIP also provides participants with support services for their physical, emotional, social and mental health needs. Questions about IYIP and other DHS grants can be answered online or by calling 800-843-6154.

  • Lightford commends Pritzker for seeking out Kristin Richards to lead IDES

    ides logo 070920SPRINGFIELD - Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford released the following statement on news that Gov. JB Pritzker has appointed Kristin Richards, current Chief of Staff to the Senate President, to serve as the Director of the Illinois Department of Employment Security on Thursday:

    “Congratulations to Kristin Richards on being chosen as director of IDES! I commend Gov. Pritzker for seeking out talent with proven experience. I’ve enjoyed working with Kristin in her various management roles with previous administrations and most recently as President Cullerton’s chief of staff. I look forward to supporting her as she takes on this new challenge during this critical time. She’s a true public servant, an inspiration and a powerhouse of a woman. Shine on Kristin!”

  • Lightford criticizes U.S. Supreme Court ruling limiting access to birth control

    scotus 070820CHICAGO – The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Trump Administration’s expansion of birth control exemptions, allowing employers to deny women the access to birth control established in the Affordable Care Act. Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) reacted with the following statement.

    “More than 70,000 women will lose access to birth control over the Trump Administration’s ploy to appease conservatives. We should not have to keep explaining that birth control is more than a form of contraceptive, and is a health care need for many.

    “Women should not be shamed for their sexuality, and it is also no one else’s business why they need birth control. We need to stop finding excuses to control bodies that are not our own, and protect women’s autonomy.”