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City's Youth Solves Problems

Following a school year of action, Chicago youth will gather to showcase their year-long activism effort to better their schools and neighborhoods at Chicago's 17th Annual Action Civics Showcase on May 21, 2019 at The Bridgeport Art Center. Mikva Challenge will host the showcase in partnership with the Chicago Public Schools' Department of Social Science and Civic Engagement.

Throughout the showcase, youth will present nearly 100 projects to civic partners in order to get their feedback. Examples include:

* To support students without a permanent home, Bogan's Student Voice Committee created a permanent closet space within their school for clothes and toiletries.

* To engage their peers in the municipal elections, Back of the Yards students held a 15th ward candidate forum at their school. Students at Solorio High School worked to bring participatory budgeting to their school.

* To increase student choice and access to healthy foods at school, students at Juarez and Instituto Health Science Career Academy conducted research on how to best lobby food providers to change their offerings.

Many of the projects to be presented at the Showcase received mini-grants from the Allstate Insurance Company. The Robert R. McCormick Foundation provided additional project support. The program is also assisted by the Crown Family Philanthropies, Polk Bros Foundation, IMC Charitable Foundation, Bezos Family Foundation and the Chicago Bar Foundation. Our classroom-based youth action teams are supported by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, the Brinson Foundation and the Augustana Henze Endowment. See examples of projects below.

When: Tuesday, May 21, 2019 from 4 p.m. - 6 p.m.

Where: The Bridgeport Art Center, 1200 W 35th St

Visuals: Over 300 young people will have their projects on display at the event. There will also be elected officials, teachers and community leaders at the event.


Action Civics Showcase 2019 - Project Highlights

Back of the Yards College Prep
"Answer Me This"
Students engaged with elected officials and candidates for office in various ways this school year. They organized and facilitated an aldermanic candidate forum in the 15th Ward where they were tasked with inviting candidates, promoting the event in the community, researching candidates, and crafting and asking questions.

As a whole class, students also researched bills in newly elected legislature, and took a field trip down to Springfield. They met with various legislators, including Reps. Ortiz and Mah, to lobby them on lifting the ban on rent control and instituting a progressive income tax.

Bogan High School
"Bogan's Closet"
Driven by a belief that all students should have clean clothes regardless of housing status, Bogan's Student Voice Committee conducted a school survey and researched other schools' methods for supporting students without a permanent home. Students have started collecting clothes and toiletries, and are finding permanent "closet" space that will be available for their classmates - work that has prompted a compassionate school-wide conversation about supporting all students.

Benito Juarez Community Academy
"FEED: Food Equity Everyone Deserves"
The Aramark contract has been received very negatively by students across the city. Juarez students used a survey to get specific feedback on the food from their peers, and plan on creating a video of them asking different people in power (Principal, LSC, CTU, Alderman, and Mayor) to replace Aramark with local businesses, which would in turn benefit the local economy. They are creating a proposal to achieve the dream of replacing the Aramark with food trucks.

Instituto Health Science Career Academy
"Elevating Student Voice: Working Within the System of Student Government"
This year, Student Council partnered with the school's food service provider, school administrators, and the Instituto CEO's office to research the school lunch program and students' response to the food in their school. Through surveys, meetings with various stakeholders, and analysis of collected data, students attempted to better understand how the National School Lunch Program works and how their classmates felt about the food provided at their school. After analyzing this data, IHSCA's Student Council worked with the food service provider to recommend ways to improve students' food experience at school.

Dever Elementary
"Period Equity"
Students decided to address the financial cost of feminine products and the stigma around attaining them, which is especially prevalent at school because students have to go to the office to get pads. The class surveyed their peers, did research into how much women pay for pads/tampons and how many women can't afford them, and interviewed store employees about their experience selling pads/tampons to women. They plan to make packs of feminine hygiene products that can be kept in lockers for girls in 5th-8th grade, and to make an art installation about women's empowerment and period positivity to help decrease the stigma around menstruation. Next year the packs will be available in the Office of Student Health and Wellness and items will be collected in part through regular school supplies lists.

Solorio Academy High School
"Participatory Budgeting"
Interested in implementing participatory budgeting on a school-wide level, Solorio's SVC used, a national online resource, to build a researched-based proposal for their administration. They also conducted a survey of 5,000 members of their school community to get input on budget priorities. They are excited that administration was receptive and is allowing the SVC to spend part of the school budget on student and staff priorities.

Mather High School
"School Cleanliness"
Mather's SVC decided to address school cleanliness via school-wide surveys, photos and meetings with Aramark. After seeing photos and root causes, Aramark asked students for a school map and other specific materials in order to help meet their demands. Students also presented teachers with specific actions they could take to help the custodial staff be more effective. They have now added more garbage cans in the hallways, provided teachers with classroom cleaning supplies, hung posters around the school, and presented the project to each home room. Mather now uses cleaning as a restorative consequence and service learning opportunity, and students are working with community partners to help paint a mural.


Comments welcome.


Posted on May 20, 2019

MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - More McCaskey Malpractice.

BOOKS - All About Poop.


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