Stories by Jennifer Cotto

File photo of Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (WTTW News)

Illinois Awards $14M in Grants to Social Service Providers Across the State

The competitive grants were awarded to 70 nonprofits providing social services in Illinois. The funds will help organizations address physical construction and accessibility improvements.

(WTTW News)

Raising Awareness About Mental Health Concerns for First Responders

The recent deaths of two Chicago firefighters are a stark reminder of the physical dangers first responders face. Often unseen are mental health concerns, which can take a heavy toll.

(WTTW News)

Illinois Lawmakers Propose Ranked Choice Voting. Here’s How It Works

There’s an effort to implement ranked choice voting in Illinois as early as the 2024 presidential primary. Proponents say ranked choice voting helps ensure representative outcomes; opponents say it’s confusing to voters.

(Johannes Plenio / Unsplash)

Tornado Watch Issued: Severe Storms, 75 MPH Winds Expected To Hit Chicago Region Friday

The National Weather Service said starting around 2 p.m. Friday, the Chicago area is expected to see destructive winds and the possibility of tornadoes that could cause extensive damage.

(WTTW News)

New Law Would Protect Immigrants Who Report Labor Violations in Illinois

The law would protect employees from immigration-related threats when reporting labor violations like wage theft, discrimination and unsafe working conditions. It would also give the attorney general the power to investigate and fine employers who make immigration-status threats against workers.

(WTTW News)

What Drivers Can Expect When Kennedy Expressway Construction Begins Monday

The Illinois Department of Transportation is beginning a yearslong construction project on the Kennedy Expressway. It's expected to impact the Edens and Dan Ryan expressways and cost $150 million.

Volunteers from MedGlobal work in Turkey following the earthquake. (Courtesy of MedGlobal)

Area Doctors Return From Volunteering in Turkey and Syria Following Earthquakes

MedGlobal, a humanitarian organization based in Chicago, is composed of 12 physicians who deploy to disaster-struck countries to help in times of need. Most recently, three physicians traveled to both Syria and Turkey to help those affected by the disaster. 

(Michael Izquierdo / WTTW News)

City Council Poised for Big Change with Runoffs on the Horizon

Four newly elected alderpeople joined “Chicago Tonight” to discuss public safety, community investment and planned first steps in City Council.

(WTTW News)

New Poll Explores Key Issues for Latino, Black Voters in Chicago Mayoral Election

A new poll conducted by Northwestern University and a coalition of Black and Latino nonprofits found Black and Latino voters have common ground on key issues in the upcoming Chicago mayoral election.

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. (WTTW News)

New Initiatives Working to Preserve, Share Stories from Civil Rights Movement in Chicago

From Ida B. Wells to Barack Obama, Chicago’s Black history is rich. Two new initiatives are working to share that history with a broader audience, making sure it’s not forgotten.

Tawana Pope is featured in FIRSTHAND: Life After Prison. (WTTW)

Formerly Incarcerated People Look to Turn Their Experiences Into Positive Change

Tawana Pope and Nicholas Crayton had their own unexpected journeys and challenges, but continue to push for a better life. Pope is the founder of the nonprofit Diamonds In The Making Outreach and previously had been in and out of jail, struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. Crayton was released from prison just last year from the Life Skills Re-Entry Center.

(WTTW News)

Chicago Auto Show Returns with Focus on Electric Vehicles, Driver Experiences

The Chicago Auto Show, now in its 115th year, is the largest auto exhibition in North America. This year, there’s a big focus on electric vehicles and letting drivers get behind the wheel.

(WTTW News)

Chicago Housing Authority CEO Talks Agency Criticism, State of Affordable Housing

The Chicago Housing Authority is facing a lot of criticism. Alderpeople are questioning how the department is using its resources, while residents said there isn’t enough housing and what they do have is in poor condition.

(WTTW News)

Soaring Egg Prices Linked to Avian Flu Outbreak

What was once a cheap source of protein has become a luxury breakfast food. Egg prices have soared over the past year, as the worst avian flu outbreak in U.S. history has infected more than 57 million chickens.

(WTTW News)

No Plans to Ban Gas Stoves, But Health Concerns Remain

Politicians have blasted the notion of banning gas stoves after a federal regulator seemed open to it. It turns out, there are no plans to shut off the stoves for now — but there are significant concerns about their health risks.

(WTTW News)

Thousands of Cook County Residents May See Medical Debt Disappear Under New Program

Medical debt affects 27% of Cook County residents. Of those, 42% are people of color.

(WTTW News)

3 Chicago Police Officers Die by Suicide in Single Week

Three Chicago police officers died by suicide in the last week. That brings the total number of Chicago Police Department officer suicides to seven this year.

(WTTW News)

Santa Claus on the Importance of Representation

He’s known by many names: Old Saint Nick, Kris Kringle and Father Christmas. But perhaps the biggest change is recent. Today’s Santas are more diverse, bringing children not just gifts but also representation.

As Chicago Moves to Encrypt and Delay Scanner Traffic, Media and 1st Amendment Advocates Push Back

In Chicago, the ability to access police scanner traffic in real time is going away as Mayor Lightfoot moves forward with a plan to encrypt all police communications and delay them for 30 minutes, citing officer and victim safety. 

(WTTW News)

Shooting Near High School Brings Up Discussions Around School Resource Officers

Students and community members rallied Monday calling for solutions to the city’s gun violence, which has recently come to the doorstep of schools like Juarez. The shooting also sheds light on the debate over police officers in schools, who are known as school resource officers. 

(WTTW News)

Heart Attacks Spike by 30% in the Last 2 Weeks of the Year. Here Are Warning Signs to Watch.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. It’s also a time when heart attacks and strokes spike. Research shows heart attacks spike by 30% to 40% in the last two weeks of the year.

(Courtesy of Greater Chicago Food Depository)

Food Insecurity Among Black Households Up 37% Since Pandemic, Greater Chicago Food Depository Estimates

The Greater Chicago Food Depository estimates that while food insecurity is overall 19% higher compared to pre-pandemic levels, it’s 37% higher for Black households.

Maudlyne Ihejirika appears on “Chicago Tonight” on Dec. 8, 2022. (WTTW News)

After Sun-Times Retirement, Longtime Journalist Maudlyne Ihejirika Reflects on Her Career in Chicago

A longtime Chicago journalist just stepped away from her job after 30 years of covering crime, politics, education and urban affairs.

(WTTW News)

From How Much to Where Money Is Donated, Inflation Could Affect Charitable Giving

Researchers say despite the pandemic and inflation concerns this year, people are still giving their money — but cautiously.

(WTTW News)

Analysis Finds Many Chicago Polling Places Not ADA Compliant

An internal analysis from the Chicago Board of Elections found that less than 10% of polling places were compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The board says that doesn’t necessarily mean most of those locations are inaccessible.

(Courtesy of Greater Chicago Food Depository)

Chicago-Area Food Pantries Dealing With Rising Need, Higher Prices

For families already stretching to make ends meet, higher food prices means seeking help from local food pantries. Many Chicago-area pantries are reporting a significant increase in demand.