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Maria Woltjen

Late this spring, when the news media began widely reporting that U.S. Border Patrol agents were carrying out an official policy of separating undocumented children from their parents, a public outcry erupted and activists sprang into action. At that moment, Maria Woltjen could be forgiven for thinking, What took you so long? As the director … Read more

Shelly LeGere

Like a time bomb, anaphylactic shock must be defused before it destroys. There’s only one way to do so: a shot of epinephrine. But 13-year-old Annie LeGere didn’t have the lifesaving drug with her when, in August 2015, she started to have trouble breathing at a sleepover in her hometown of Elmhurst. No one knew … Read more

Loyola Ramblers

People would tell me, ‘Chicago is a pro sports town. You’re not going to get anywhere with college basketball,’ ” says Porter Moser, coach of the Loyola University men’s basketball team. “But I thought, Why not us?” Never mind that the last local college team to make the NCAA Final Four was DePaul in 1979 and, … Read more

Rebecca Makkai

Rebecca Makkai never set out to write a sweeping epic about Chicago during the height of the AIDS crisis. That underdocumented chapter of the city’s history was supposed to be merely the backdrop of a single character, a gay man living in 1980s Boystown, in her third novel. But as Makkai got deeper into researching … Read more

Steve James

America to Me, Steve James’s 10-part TV series about Oak Park and River Forest High School, feels at times less like a documentary about race and education than a fascinating conversation that you don’t want to end. “We didn’t just follow students around,” says the filmmaker and Oak Park resident. “We talked to them.” And … Read more

Jahmal Cole

The idea behind My Block, My Hood, My City, Jahmal Cole’s fast-growing civic education nonprofit, is almost ridiculously simple: Take teenagers from underresourced Chicago schools on monthly field trips to explore the city. Based on empirical evidence that education-based travel can spark students’ curiosity, ambition, and later success, the treks are centered on activities that … Read more