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YWCA and WIU win Google grants, have sights on bigger prize

MCLEAN COUNTY, Ill. - Last fall, Google launched its first statewide competition to hear ideas on how to grow the local economy.

The company challenged Illinois non-profits to develop a program that would help their region, if it were given the money to carry out their plans.

Well, after six months, they finally have their 10 winners and the YWCA McLean County was the only non-profit in Central Illinois to win.

YWCA received $75,000 this week, money that leaders say will go toward their social enterprise, which is a program geared toward helping women get back on their feet after they have been released from jail. 

"When women come out of prison the number one reason why they go back to prison is because they do not have a job," said Hilary Pacha Executive Director of Empowerment Services at YWCA. "We decided we need to address that issue. By doing so and creating a social enterprise, we are able to employ the women and not just at minimum wage at a iving wage."

But, the competition is not over yet, starting Thursday the 10 winners will compete in a week long competition to win an additional $250,000, and this time you can get involved.

YWCA staff is urging people to go on their computers or cell phones and vote as many times as they can. Those looking to vote can visit https://www.ywcamclean.org. 

In Western Illinois, the Illinois Institute of Rural Affairs at Western Illinois Univbersity was also named one fo the 10 winners. The IIRA assists with opening grocery stores in small communities. To vote for the IIRA for the $250,000 grant visit g.co/illinoischallenge


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