Nancy Rivera

Surviving on their own

These are the faces of past and present residents of El Rescate Independent Living Program, a transitional-housing program based in Humboldt Park that focuses on homeless LGBTQ and HIV-positive Latino youths.

Dino Masciopinto, 18, sits at the window overlooking Division Street at El Rescate, a transitional-housing program in Humboldt Park on Chicago's West Side that serves LGBTQ and HIV-positive Latino youths. [Photo by Michelle Kanaar]

Lives in transition

With the economy flagging and poverty rising, homeless youth are among the city’s most vulnerable residents. Transitional-housing facilities, such as Humboldt Park’s El Rescate, can be a lifeline for young adults who are separated from their families for a variety of reasons.

Ten majority-black high schools in poor Chicago neighborhoods on the south and west sides have less than 400 students, and only about one in 10 teens in the community opts to attend them. [Photo by Ronnie Wachter]

Fewer students enroll in neighborhood high schools

New data show that neighborhood high schools have reached a troubling milestone: Most now enroll only one-fourth of the students living in their attendance areas. District officials have begun to focus on the daunting task of coming up with a comprehensive plan to revitalize schools that have been losing students for many years.

Andy Paz 13, originally from Honduras, leaves immigration court in Chicago with his mother Sandra Paz Martinez, after learning he will be allowed to stay in the United States until at least July 2015 while he applies for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status. [Photo by William Camargo]

Advocates urge more mental health services for unaccompanied immigrant children

Unaccompanied minors face temporary displacement, language barriers and other challenges that can lead to anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and other serious mental health problems, according to research. Advocates say more services, such as talk therapy and support groups, are needed to help them deal with the stress and trauma they have experienced.

Photo by Eric Allix Rogers/Flickr.

CPS reverses decision to close Dyett High School

CPS officials made the surprise announcement Friday that they want proposals for a new, open enrollment neighborhood high school to be located at Dyett High, the Washington Park school that is in the last year of being phased out. Jitu Brown of the Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization, who has been leading community activists, parents and students in an intense fight to keep Dyett open, declared it a victory. But with many questions still outstanding about the school’s program–and in particular, whether a private operator will be chosen to run the school–Brown said it’s not a complete victory and emphasized that the win didn’t come easily. “None of this would have happened without the diligence of the community,” he says. “This is not an example of a responsive elected official or government.”
Over the past four years, numerous rallies and sit-ins were held and several people were arrested as they battled to keep Dyett a neighborhood school and to save it from the chopping block as dozens of other schools in black communities were closed.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Student fees pump up budgets for wealthier schools, leave others out in the cold

As one of the city’s elite selective high schools, Whitney Young received more than $480,000 additional money from the district last year. But that wasn’t its only financial advantage. The school, on the Near West Side, also raked in more than $680,000 in fees. Each student was asked to pay  a general fee of $500, though students receiving a free or reduced-price lunch could apply for a waiver. In addition, there were extra costs to participate in sports teams and clubs, and with the financial support, Whitney Young–and other schools with similar fees and financial means–are more likely to offer these activities.

Children play in front of a recently completed Peace Mural at 63rd Street and Wallace Avenue on Chicago's South Side. [Photo by Grace Donnelly]

Englewood peace mural brings community together

The peace mural was designed with pieces of materials broken and placed into colorful mosaics. But the focus of the three dozen people attending a recent dedication of the newly installed mural in Englewood was not on fragments but on a neighborhood coming together. “We are bringing two communities together today,” Catonya Withers told the group gathered at a viaduct at 63rd Street and Wallace Avenue on Saturday,” so why not come out and celebrate?”