Meet Chef Roberto Pérez: Revitalizing Chicago’s Puerto Rican food scene

By Justin Agrelo Medill Reports Puerto Rican chef Roberto Pérez doesn’t eat pork. He confesses this to me from behind the steering wheel of his black Volvo on a cold Monday a few weeks ago. We’re driving through Chicago’s Austin neighborhood to Rico Fresh, one of Pérez’s favorite grocery stores. His confession is an obvious … Continue reading Meet Chef Roberto Pérez: Revitalizing Chicago’s Puerto Rican food scene

Black youth in Chicago and the future of American politics

A Medill Newsmakers Report By Jasmine Cen In this episode of Medill Newsmakers, we invited three guests to help us understand the black youth in Chicago. Three topics were discussed during the show: how community violence impacts the black youth in Chicago, who the young activists are, and what the political scientist thinks about the … Continue reading Black youth in Chicago and the future of American politics

When volunteers help connect beat cops with communities, crime often goes down

By Jasmine Cen

A beat facilitator is a volunteer who connects Chicago police officers working a beat with members of the community to help combat neighborhood violence.

Beat facilitators meet monthly with the officers to talk about safety concerns at Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) meetings. The CAPS program began in 1993. More than 200 meetings happen every month. Continue reading When volunteers help connect beat cops with communities, crime often goes down

Third graders get real about race and guns in school program

By Jasmine Cen

With so much on the news about violence and crime in Chicago, it’s difficult to shield young people from hearing about it. But psychologists say parents and teachers should not ignore the issues, and children need to talk about what’s happening in their communities, even at a young age.

That’s the spirit behind a program at Village Leadership Academy, where six and seven-year-old students are delving into the city’s most intractable problems.


Students at the Academy recently had their third presentation of several year-long projects on topics like littering, school safety signs and unsafe driving.

This year, some of the third-grade students did research on one of Chicago’s toughest issues: gun violence.

Photo on top: The students give a presentation about their research on gun violence in their neighborhoods. (By Jasmine Cen/ Medill)

Students cook up a healthy lunch for Chicago Public Schools

By Jasmine Cen A student-designed healthy lunch option was on the menu at Chicago Public Schools on Wednesday. The dishes were created by four George Washington High School student chefs who won the “Cooking Up Change” competition in Chicago this year. The annual contest encourages culinary students to develop tasty and healthy meals for their classmates. The winning … Continue reading Students cook up a healthy lunch for Chicago Public Schools

Why Chicago teachers rejected a contract offer as schools brace for budget cuts (video)

By Jasmine Cen The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) held a mass rally in downtown Chicago last Thursday after the union rejected a contract offer from Chicago Public Schools (CPS). On Tuesday, CPS announced cuts of up to $120 million from the current school year budget.

Bernie Sanders Fans Let Chicago “feel the bern” (video)

By Jasmine Cen More than 1,000 people shouted “we are the 99 percent” as they marched on LaSalle Street in downtown Chicago Saturday to endorse presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. “Feel the bern,” the excited participants chanted, along with other slogans. March for Bernie is a movement that spread across the nation via Facebook. Many organizers of … Continue reading Bernie Sanders Fans Let Chicago “feel the bern” (video)

State start-up investment hopes to create new jobs in Illinois (video)

By Jasmine Cen The second round of the Illinois Growth and Innovation Fund will create an estimated 3,600 jobs in technology start-ups in the next three years, according to Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs. The state of Illinois is investing $220 million in the fund. Eligible candidates for investment funding must be businesses in the biological … Continue reading State start-up investment hopes to create new jobs in Illinois (video)

Despite potential dangers, hoverboard sales glide along (video)

By Jasmine Cen Sales of hoverboards in Chicago have not gone down even as safety concerns are being investigated, according to the manager of a major hoverboard retail store. Several incidents of the hoverboards catching on fire or exploding have been reported across the country. The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) urged large-volume … Continue reading Despite potential dangers, hoverboard sales glide along (video)

With the spotlight comes criticism for cop-staring activist (video)

By Jasmine Cen A few young African-American activists in Chicago became well known late last year during a series of protests following the release of a video showing police shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, but along with recognition for these young protesters came some criticism. Among the thousands of young people led by Black Youth Project 100 was Lamon Reccord. On the day after Thanksgiving, while protesters … Continue reading With the spotlight comes criticism for cop-staring activist (video)