Peoria Public Schools receives grant for more than $800,000 funded by legal cannabis sales

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Funds from Illinois’ adult-use cannabis sales are being reinvested into a local school district with plans to provide more opportunities for some students and families.

With marijuana legalized in Illinois, State Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth (D-Peoria) said it is only right to support the communities adversely impacted by pre-legalization laws.

Gordon-Booth said many of those affected are people of color.

“It was incredibly important that we took some of the resources of the sale of this product and begin to reinvest it and repairing those same communities,” Gordon-Booth said.

Through the Restore, Reinvest, and Renew program, otherwise known as R3, $31.5 million in grants funded by cannabis tax revenue is going to the hardest-hit communities.

Peoria Public Schools (PPS) were the recipient of a $858,669 grant.

“Inequities, hardship, and suffering are so vast and wide for many, many, of our students and families,” said Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat, PPS Superintendent.

With the funding, District 150 officials plan to expand on existing programs designed to help students become more successful.

“[The goal is] to create career coaches, to expose our students to careers and opportunities, and teach them more job skills,” said Derrick Booth, Social-Emotional Director for PPS.

The money will also be used to assist students and families experiencing legal trouble.

“Whether there’s a student going through the criminal justice system working with the justice advocates, or a parent or a family member who just needs that second chance with an expungement or a sealing,” Booth said.

Officials with the Peoria County Sheriff’s Office plan to use grant funding to work with incarcerated individuals within their STAR (Successful, Transition, and Reentry) program.

“What we plan to do is to continue what we’ve already started, addressing these major predictable barriers to reentry which is housing, employment, education,” said Sheriff Brian Asbell.

Booth said these types of initiatives will not only benefit those in the classroom, but also the community as a whole.

“We’ll see the narrative of the 61605 being the most economically distressed zip code in the state and also the country change. We’ll see the narrative of population decline change, but we’ll also see graduation rates really increase,” Booth said.

Gordon-Booth said cannabis sales have exceeded expectations. In the next funding year, she said the R3 program could have anywhere from $50-$65 million to distribute.

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