Evanston High School Student fosters entrepreneurial spirit with ChoreBug

By Mike Davis

Avante Price smiles when classmates call him “ChoreBug.” Being a 16-year-old with his very own business, Price understands the importance of self-promotion.

The Evanston High School junior and founder of ChoreBug, a service that takes odd jobs off the to-do list, grew from a small landscaping business. Now, Price has 25 contracted workers and is operating almost daily in Evanston.

ChoreBug offers services from yard work, cleaning, moving, and even babysitting, all for $25 and under. In the future, Price hopes to expand outside Evanston.


Photo at top: ChoreBug helps trim the to-do list.(Mike Davis/MEDILL)

Street performer brings music, joy to Lincoln Park

By Xufei Geng

Families and children at the Lincoln Park Zoo are greeted daily by a street musician who sings, plays the guitar, and shares small children’s instruments so that her young audience can participate in the music.
Nancy Namest began performing in Lincoln Park following the death of her long-time partner, and says the children’s enjoyment is all the payment she needs.

Photo at top: Several kids join Nancy for a song. (Xufei Geng/MEDILL)

Chicago Math and Science Academy robotics team wins big

By Stephanie Rothman

The Chicago Math and Science Academy’s robotics team, the Robotitans, won a prestigious national award at a competition in St. Louis that attracted some 15,000 high school students.

Roshaan Sidiqui, 17, won the Dean’s List award, named after the founder of the engineering nonprofit “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology,” or FIRST. The award adds to the more than 30 already earned by the Robotitans since the team started four years ago.

Through Robotitans, team members say they learn important skills besides engineering, including team-building, networking and leadership.

Photo at top: Robotitan member Roshaan Sidiqui, 17 adjusts the team’s award winning robot. The Robotitans are Chicago Math and Science Academy’s high school robotics team. (Stephanie Rothman/MEDILL)

Chicago fights back: Guns against guns

By Jane Bodmer

In response to the city’s violence epidemic, many Chicagoans are turning to a complicated solution: fighting guns with more guns.

According to State Police, Chicagoans were issued 60 percent more gun permits in 2016 than in 2015. A total of 212,000 Chicagoans are legally licensed to own a gun, and 38,712 Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) cards were issued in 2016.

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Chicago vintage clothing store caters to offline shoppers

By Xufei Geng

In Chicago, US#1 Vintage Clothing is known for its unique items, each with its own history and story, acquired over the owner’s 40 years as a vintage collector. In the age of online shopping, the store is decidedly offline, and owner Dominique Darabi intends to keep it that way.

Photo at top: Vintage boots from all over the country are among the unusual collections at US#1 Vintage. (Xufei Geng/MEDILL)

Rogers Park mac and cheese spot regrouped and reopened

By Mike Davis

Sometimes success forces businesses to take a step back. That’s what happened to the Midnight Mac and Cheeserie in Rogers Park.

After a crazy opening weekend in which owner and chef Antony van Zyl ran out of mac and cheese three days straight, he decided it was time to expand. Since then, he’s doubled the dining area, the kitchen space, and even hired more people.

Van Zyl didn’t anticipate the crowded start from day one.

“You have to build your business, you have to fight to get it going,” van Zyl said. “And that’s the way things normally work…it didn’t quite work that way.”

The Midnight Mac and Cheeserie operates daily from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Photo at top: The Midnight Mac and Cheeserie re-opens in Rogers Park after a busy first weekend. (Mike Davis/MEDILL)

Chicago fast-food workers continue call for a $15 minimum wage

By Wenjing Yang

Deshawn Bell, 35, is a fast food worker in Chicago. He has been working at a McDonald’s restaurant for the past ten years and struggles to make ends meet. He joined a march on May 23rd in downtown Chicago that drew 1,500 demonstrators from across the nation to call for a $15 minimum wage. The march was organized by the union-backed advocacy group ‘Fight for $15’ and was timed to send a message the day before the McDonald’s annual stockholder meeting.

McDonald’s Corp. had revenue of $24.62 billion in 2016. Every year, the company and its franchisees employ hundreds of thousands of people, but has long been a target of complaints about the wages it pays those workers.

The Oak Brook, Ill.-based fast food giant increased its hourly wages to $1 above local minimum wage at corporate-owned restaurants in 2015.

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Religious activists’ work in troubled communities escapes media coverage

By Claire Fahey


imberly Lymore, associate minister at St. Sabina, said her place of worship on Chicago’s South Side is “ is not like any other Catholic Church in the archdiocese.”

“A lot of the times, we think about the community as a congregation now and we try to meet their needs in whatever way … because Auburn Gresham and Englewood has the highest unemployment rate in the area,” Lymore said, adding that some of the services include finding jobs and providing food and clothing.

At St. Clement Catholic Church in Lincoln Park, Maggie Hanley, the director of community outreach, said that “there is more work to be done” in communities on the South Side.

Religious institutions, like  Lymore’s and Hanley’s,  are working  to counter systemic issues of crime through a variety of services rarely noticed by mainstream media that frequently target the city for its perpetually high murder rate.
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Undergraduate SpaceICE researcher wins prestigious engineering award

By Lily Williams

Undergraduate materials science senior Lauren Kearney heads to Northwestern University’s SpaceICE lab on most days to work on the design for the team’s freeze-casting instrumentation that will launch in a NASA mission next year.

Kearney won one of two of Northwestern’s Hilliard Awards for leadership, scholarship and service. Each year, the university’s materials science and engineering department awards two of its undergraduates the prestigious  award.

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Chicago cops find solace in God ‘in times of stress,’ growing public distrust

By Allison Ledwon

In the following story, details such as the names and ages of the police officers have been withheld to protect their privacy and personal safety.

A  South Side police officer, like most young adults graduating from college, was looking for a stable but fulfilling career.  He thought he would find it in the role of a Chicago police officer.

“My initial thought was that it would be a rewarding career of helping people,” the officer said.  But after bearing his badge for some time, he made the discovery that the job is not what he thought it would be.

“You thought that you were going to help people and you find out when you get there, not many people tell you thank you” he said. “It’s still rewarding because you know secretly that people needed you and wanted you there, even if they didn’t tell you thank you. However, we’ve come across one of the weirdest times in the United States’ history that we’ve reached the spot where the police are actually the bad guy now.”

According to Pew researchers, 51 percent of police officers nationwide, like the South Side officer, are frustrated by their jobs, while 81 percent say they believe that the public does not understand their occupation. This, according to the study, is likely tied to the recent high-profile fatal encounters between black civilians and police officers both nationwide and in Chicago.
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