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

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