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'It's going to happen:' Illinois Central College falls short in securing $30M federal grant for 61605, but president confident about future chances

Tim Shelley
A boarded-up, vacant house at S. Saratoga and W. Brotherson on Peoria's South Side. The 61605 ZIP code is one of the nation's most impoverished areas.

Illinois Central College has fallen short in its bid to secure a Promise Neighborhoods grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

"We were five points off perfect, and that wasn't enough to get us funded by the Fed," said ICC president Dr. Sheila Quirk-Bailey.

The $30 million dollar federal grant for Peoria's 61605 ZIP code was to be matched by at least $49 million in local resources, many of which were in-kind contributions rather than liquid cash.

It would have funded the Peoria Cradle To Career program, focused specifically on reducing inequities on Peoria's South Side by investing in things like education, Internet access, an social-emotional supports for children experiencing trauma.

"There's a lot of excitement in the community about that initiative. So whether it's that federal grant, or another federal grant, or we figure out how to do parts of it on our own, we're not going to let that one go," Quirk-Bailey said.

61605 is one of the 100 most impoverished ZIP codes in the United States.

But Quirk-Bailey remains optimistic about ICC's chances of landing some assistance for the South Side.

"We have another grant that we should hear about relatively soon which would provide a half-million dollars. And we fairly confident of that, although I never like to count my chickens before they're hatched," she said.

She said that money will allow ICC to gather more data about the needs of people in the 61605 ZIP code, which will hopefully help them make a stronger case for "Peoria Cradle to Career" the next time around.

"It's gonna happen," Quirk-Bailey said. "It may not happen this time, but it's going to happen."

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