CAHOKIA – State Senator Christopher Belt (D-Swansea) spent Friday afternoon reading books to children at the Cahokia Public Library to encourage students to read during the summer.

“I had a wonderful afternoon reading to kids and encouraging them to become stronger readers,” Belt said. “It’s important for children to continue learning over the summer, so they don’t lose the knowledge gained the prior school year.”

Belt is launching a summer book club to counteract summer learning loss for students during the summer months.

The summer book club requires students to read eight books of their choice during the summer break, record the names of the books and return a form to Belt’s office by Aug. 11. Senator Belt will host a pizza party for everyone who finishes reading their books. 

Book club forms are available at to download and print. Parents can also contact the district office at 618-875-1212 to have a form mailed.

“Education is a top legislative priority for me,” Belt said. “Working and ensuring kids are able to learn and grow is essential for their future.”

Category: Press Releases

Parks and Rec month EAST ST. LOUIS – State Senator Christopher Belt (D-Swansea) is encouraging residents to take advantage of public parks and natural spaces in celebration of National Park and Recreation Month.

“Parks offer communities a place to gather with friends and family outdoors,” Belt said. “I hope people will take advantage of spending time outside and experiencing the nature around us during Park and Recreation Month.”

According to the National Recreation and Park Association, parks play an important role in maintaining quality of life in a community. Parks provide gathering places for members of a community to interact with each other, host public events and offer recreational programs.

Additionally, parks are a public place where people can go to keep healthy and fit. A Penn State University study showed that the length of visits to parks has a connection with reductions in stress, lowered blood pressure and perceived physical health.

Parks also offer an economic benefit to their communities by raising nearby property values and increasing revenue from tourism. Trees and other growth are also estimated to save cities money in environmental impacts and the effects of storms.

“The Metro East has a wide range of parks and trails available for residents visit,” Belt said. “It’s a great time of year to enjoy the outdoors and appreciate all nature offers.”

Visit the Metro East Park and Recreation District to find a park near in the area.

Category: Press Releases

Senator Belt

SPRINGFIELD – Students can choose whether or not to submit their ACT and SAT scores when applying to Illinois colleges and universities, thanks to a measure sponsored by State Senator Christopher Belt (D-Swansea) that was signed into law Friday.

“Standardized tests are not what universities need to rely on when accepting students,” Belt said. “This necessary transition away from test scores will benefit those students who have the capability to be accepted into Illinois’ universities, but may struggle with test anxieties.”

The new law, led by Belt and House Sponsor LaToya Greenwood (D-East St. Louis), creates the Higher Education Fair Admissions Act, which would prohibit Illinois’ public universities from relying solely on a student’s ACT or SAT score to make an admissions decision.

Currently, a quarter of the country’s public universities do not require standardized tests scores for admittance. Notably, the University of Chicago recently saw record enrollment of first-generation, low-income and rural students after lifting its standardized test requirement.

“When it comes to admissions, we need to look at the larger picture of a student’s academic career, not just how they filled out bubbles on a single Saturday,” Greenwood said. “The ACT and SAT can serve as a barrier to college for students from underprivileged backgrounds, with a correlation between household income and test success. Overreliance on these test scores can reduce the number of otherwise qualified applicants at our universities.”

Of the 12 four-year public universities in Illinois, three – Illinois State University, Southern Illinois University Carbondale and Western Illinois University – implemented test-optional policies before the pandemic began.

The law takes effect Jan. 1, 2022.

Category: Press Releases

Community Navigator Program

EAST ST. LOUIS – State Senators Christopher Belt (D-Swansea) and Rachelle Aud Crowe (D-Glen Carbon) congratulate three local organizations chosen to receive funding to help small businesses apply to receive financial assistance.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our communities,” Belt said. “This investment will support the businesses who were affected most by the pandemic. It’s essential that businesses know the funding available through the economic recovery programs, so that we can continue to build back what was lost for our businesses.”

A total of $9 million will be invested to expand the community navigator outreach program. The program will provide support for small businesses that need help navigating financial assistance available from the state and the U.S. Small Business Administration as a result of the American Rescue Plan Act.

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity trained 13 new regional partners to give assistance to small businesses. Metro East organizations that have served diverse businesses across the state, include Greater Egypt Regional Planning and Development Commission, Illinois Public Health Association and National Main Street Inc. These groups will facilitate technical assistance on a common level to small businesses.

“With this critical investment, our state is working to ensure businesses can operate safely, support opportunities for employees and boost our economy as we rebuild,” Crowe said. “I strongly urge members of the Metro East business community to connect with our community partners to stay informed on available grants and resources.”

To ensure the smallest and most vulnerable businesses are prioritized, navigator partners will provide small businesses with direct assistance on applications, language assistance, on-the-ground outreach, webinars, technical assistance sessions and more.

An expansion of the community navigator program builds on the success of this approach first piloted during the state’s Business Interruption Grants program – which led to a record amount of funding deployed, including over 40 percent of grants to minority-owned businesses. During the BIG program, more than 30,000 unique businesses statewide received outreach from a community navigator.

Businesses are encouraged to visit the DCEO website or call 1-800-252-2923 for more information on recovery programs and support.

Category: Press Releases

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Contact Us

Springfield Office:
417C Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-5399

District Office:
Kenneth Hall Regional
Office Bldg. #10
Collinsville Ave., Suite 201A
East St. Louis, IL 62201
(618) 875-1212

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