40 Under 40 | Harish Patel – Crain’s Chicago Business

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Harish Patel, 37

Director

Economic Security for Illinois


When he came to America from India, Harish Patel said he was overwhelmed by the amount of free access there was for services, but also taken aback at the process of applying for welfare programs after experiencing waiting in long lines with his mother.

Those experiences, coupled with the massive amounts of information his sister had to provide to receive food assistance from the Women, Infants ” Children program, ignited Patel’s passion to make such processes more efficient.

While running (unsuccessfully) in 2016 for the Illinois House of Representatives, Patel became aware that distributing cash with no strings might be an answer. Then he worked at a D.C.-based think tank, where he connected with others to convert such ideas into real-life policies and programs.

Tackling poverty has become a mission for Patel, who founded Economic Security for Illinois in 2019. The organization is behind the guaranteed-income pilot programs of Cook County, Chicago and Evanston. Patel’s group was also integral in the expansion and modernization of the earned-income tax credit in Illinois.

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November 7, 2022 at 07:03AM

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