Stories by erica gunderson

Ritmo del Mar at the Shedd Aquarium is an adults-only evening that combines Latino music and culture with the aquatic life and cityscapes of the Shedd. (Shedd Aquarium)

Latino Entertainment Under the Sea at Shedd Aquarium’s Ritmo del Mar, March 25

If you like a little salsa with your fish, Ritmo del Mar at the Shedd Aquarium might be the event for you. The adults-only evening will combine Latino music and cuisine with the aquatic life and cityscapes of the Shedd.

(Courtesy of "Tomorrow's Hope")

Documentary ‘Tomorrow’s Hope’ Tells Story of Early Education Project in Chicago

Amid the chaos that characterized the last decades of the Robert Taylor Homes in Bronzeville, an ambitious early education program helped the children who lived there flourish.

Chef Mark Mendez of Libertad. (WTTW News)

On the Pass: Chef Mark Mendez on the Serious Deliciousness of Latino Cuisine

The colors and flavors of Latino cuisine can be found all over Chicago now, but it hasn’t always been considered worthy of fine dining. Chef Mark Mendez of Libertad said Latino cuisine deserves a spot among the world’s great culinary traditions.

(ePhotographyAustralia / Pixabay)

The State of Early Childhood Education in Illinois

Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s proposed Smart Start program would allow an additional 5,000 kids to go to preschool next year, eventually adding a total of 20,000 slots. The plan would also add money to increase wages for early education providers.

(WTTW News)

Illinois Tops Nation in Applications for Student Loan Debt Relief

Millions applied for student loan forgiveness before President Joe Biden’s plan was put on hold amid legal challenges. The forgiveness plan’s fate is now in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court, which just heard arguments on the case.

Exterior rendering of The Seng. (Courtesy of Structured Development)

All-Affordable Condo Development Offers Middle-Income Families Homes in Heart of the City

The Seng is a 34-unit condo building that aims to attract middle-income families previously priced out of the area. A three-bedroom unit might go for $333,000, the developer said, compared to the market average of $700,000 in the neighborhood.

A still from “The Woman King.” (Sony Pictures)

Oscars (Still) So White? 2023 Academy Awards Continue to Lack Representation

The 2023 Academy Awards will see historic Asian representation, but the Oscars are still coming under fire over issues of representation, even eight years after the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite led to a reckoning within the Academy.

“Chi Boy: Native Sons and Chicago Reckonings" by Keenan Norris.

‘Chi Boy’ Examines Chicago’s Place in Black American History

For young Black boys and men, Chicago can be a cradle and a crucible, a place where they can encounter both endless inspiration and endless despair. In “Chi Boy: Native Sons and Chicago Reckonings,” author Keenan Norris draws connections between the experiences of literary giants and those of his own father.

Augustus Tolton was the first recognized African American Roman Catholic priest. (Provided)

Get to Know ‘Good Father Gus’ at Evenings with Tolton Events

The first recognized African American Roman Catholic priest is on the road to sainthood. Augustus Tolton’s journey from enslaved child to priest is the subject of a series of events happening at the Tolton Heritage Center in Bronzeville.

Pilsen Food Pantry purchased a permanent home at 21st and Ashland. (WTTW News)

Pilsen Food Pantry Purchases Permanent Home

Since it first opened inside a health clinic in 2018 and moved to a deconsecrated church in 2019, the Pilsen Food Pantry has expanded its offerings and ambition.

(WTTW News)

Birrieria Ocotlan Stews on 50 Years of Tradition and Tacos

When Andy Reyes rhapsodizes about the perfect bowl of birria, he has generations of his forebears speaking through him. His family’s birria recipe dates back to 1926, when his great-grandfather developed his own version of the stewed goat dish in Ocotlan, Jalisco.

(WTTW News)

Jeylú Gutiérrez First New Alderperson to Represent 14th Ward in 54 Years

For 54 years, the 14th Ward was represented by the now-indicted Ald. Ed Burke. Jeylú Gutiérrez said she was inspired to run for office when she saw her ward lacked for city services.

(WTTW News)

Applications Open for Miller-Perez Scholarship for Latino and Immigrant Students

Attention high school seniors and college students: Applications are now open for the Miller-Perez Family Scholarship at the nonprofit Latinos Progresando. Five $2,000 scholarships are being awarded.

(WTTW News)

Mission Possible: Makerspace Nation Offers Competition for $30,000 School Makerspace in Chicago

A new competition for STEAM educators (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) could net a Chicago school a $30,000 makerspace full of equipment to encourage problem-solving thinking. The deadline to apply is March 10.

(WTTW News)

City Colleges of Chicago Announces Timuel D. Black Jr. Scholarship and Fellowship

The program honors the life and work of Timuel D. Black Jr., the late City Colleges professor, activist and historian. The goal is to help 20 City Colleges students develop into community leaders in the mold of Black, who died in 2021 at the age of 102.

(WTTW News)

‘You Didn’t See Nothin’ Podcast Revisits 1997 Bridgeport Hate Crime

In 1997, 13-year-old Lenard Clark was beaten into a coma simply for being Black in a White neighborhood. Chicago leaders began calling for racial reconciliation — a rapid turn that stuck with Yohance Lacour, then a fledgling journalist.

(WTTW News)

At 92, Activist Dolores Huerta is Still in the Fight

It’s a simple sentiment, but the phrase “sí se puede” or “yes we can” has powered demands for justice around the world. The woman behind those words is Dolores Huerta, one of the most influential labor activists in America and the leader of the Chicano civil rights movement.

(WTTW News)

Poll: Top Issues for Black Voters in Chicago Include Crime, Police Accountability

A nonpartisan poll from Northwestern University found the vast majority of likely Black voters support more funding for youth programs, more affordable housing and increased funding for all public schools.

(WTTW News)

Mexico Native ‘Physician Magician’ Has More Than Magic Up His Sleeve

Neonatologist, professor and magician Ricardo Rosenkranz performs as the "Physician Magician" or “El Mago Medico," offering performances in English and Spanish at a Rogers Park theater.

(WTTW News)

Behind the Brim with ‘Los Toros’ Hat Artist Abel Arciniega

For the fifth year running, the Chicago Bulls rolled out their BMO Artist Hat Series: six limited-edition hats featuring local artists’ spins on the team’s iconic logo. Among this year’s hats was a Mexican-tinged design created by artist and Chicago native Abel Arciniega.

Local nonprofit Young, Black & Lit donates books featuring Black characters to kids across the U.S. (WTTW News)

Young, Black & Lit: Local Nonprofit Launches Young Author Contest

For young Black book lovers, it can be tough to find books that reflect the readers and their worlds. In 2018, the local nonprofit Young, Black & Lit took it upon itself to make sure that Black children have plenty of options for their bookshelves.

(WTTW News)

Programs Aim to Reduce Recidivism in Illinois

A 2018 report found 43% of those released from prison in Illinois will be convicted of another crime and return to prison. About a quarter of those re-offenses are for so-called “technical violations” like violating curfew or missing a meeting with a probation officer.

Po’boy sandwiches at Daisy’s Po-Boy and Tavern in Hyde Park. (WTTW News)

Celebrate Mardi Gras with a Classic Po’boy in Hyde Park

At Daisy’s Po-Boy and Tavern in Hyde Park, Chicago chef Erick Williams serves up classic New Orleans-style po’boys. “This will be our first Mardi Gras season. … We’re going to serve a lot of hurricanes and a lot of great food and play the music loud and have a lot of fun.”

At HHP Lift’s Liftworks social enterprise program, participants are taught how to manufacture home goods while also learning basic workplace skills. (Courtesy of HPP Lift)

Back Home, Back to Work: Occupational Training Prepares Formerly Incarcerated People for the Workplace

Research shows formerly incarcerated people who maintained employment for one year after release had only a 16% recidivism rate, compared to a 52% rate for those who did not stay employed.

Navy Pier is hosting a free Carnivale celebration from 1-5 p.m. Feb. 25 in the Aon Grand Ballroom. (Courtesy of Navy Pier)

Experience the ‘Warm Spirit’ of Carnivale at Navy Pier, Feb. 25

Carnivale is getting underway with festivals bursting with dance, music and food. All are invited to see, hear and taste some of the international Carnivale traditions in a free multicultural event at Chicago's Navy Pier.

A performance at the Chicago International Salsa Congress. (Courtesy of Chicago International Salsa Congress)

Salsa Congress Twirls Back to Chicago for 22nd Year

The 22nd Chicago International Salsa Congress, a four-night, three-day event, kicks off Thursday with three free beginner dance workshops teaching salsa, bachata and rueda casino.