Stories by jennifer cotto

(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.

 Enrique Mazzola, music director of the Lyric Opera of Chicago, appears on “Chicago Tonight” on Nov. 21, 2022. (WTTW News)

After Pandemic Slowdown, Lyric Opera of Chicago Music Director Looks to Ramp Back Up

Maestro Enrique Mazzola took over as music director of the Lyric Opera of Chicago in 2019 with grand plans for the 70-year-old institution. Then the pandemic hit.


After Formula Shortage, Breast Milk Bank Aims to Meet Demand

In the Chicago area, Mothers’ Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes is the only accredited milk bank. Despite a slow increase in supply, the bank is still providing this valuable resource.  

(WTTW News)

Study Finds Hair Straightening Chemicals Associated With Higher Risk of Uterine Cancer

A study from the National Institutes of Health last month showed women who use chemical hair relaxers or straighteners may have a higher risk of the cancer.

(WTTW News)

Students of Color Face Major Hurdles Around College Debt

When it comes to paying off that debt, Black and Latino graduates are struggling. Nearly half of Black students owe an average of 12.5% more than they borrowed, according to the Education Data Initiative.

(WTTW News)

Number of New Cases of HIV, AIDS Diagnosed in Chicago Drops

A new report from the Chicago Department of Public Health says not only are fewer people being diagnosed, but more people who are already living with HIV-AIDS are reaching viral suppression. 

Cook County Courthouse. (WTTW News)

Changes Likely to SAFE-T Act as State’s Attorneys Raise Concerns

Changes are coming to the SAFE-T Act, the new law that, among many other things, does away with cash bail starting in the new year.

It's become a political flashpoint in the race for governor and took center stage at the last debate.

(WTTW News)

Check Your Polling Place Before Heading Out to Vote, Chicago Board of Elections Says

The Chicago Board of Elections is urging voters to look at their new precinct map before voting in the upcoming election.  

Recovery work after the Repsol oil spill. (Courtesy of Oceana Peru)

Brookfield Zoo Researchers Honored for Work in Oil Spill Recovery Efforts

Recently, two researchers with Brookfield Zoo received prestigious awards for their work in the field. Their current work focuses on the impacts of major oil spills on marine life.

Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering appears on "Chicago Tonight" on Oct. 10, 2022. (WTTW News)

Highland Park Continues to Recover 3 Months After Fourth of July Shooting

It has been three months since seven people were killed and 48 others were injured in a shooting at Highland Park's Fourth of July Parade.

Aesha “Eesh” Dominguez works on new theme music for “Chicago Tonight.” (WTTW News)

Meet the Local Composer Behind the New Theme Music for ‘Chicago Tonight’

The person behind the new sound is Chicagoan Aesha “Eesh” Dominguez. She’s a classically trained pianist and vocalist and is one of the few female sound engineers in town.


Bipartisan Group of Lawmakers Advocating for Electoral Count Act

The effort comes after the numerous revelations of a fake elector scheme leading up to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol, and as election deniers in many races aim to win positions of power.

(WTTW News)

City of Chicago to Offer Workers 12 Weeks of Paid Parental Leave

As of Jan. 1, any city employee who’s worked for at least one year will receive 12 weeks of paid parental time off. In a country that has zero guaranteed paid parental leave, Chicago is one of a handful of cities expanding this benefit.

Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton appears on “Chicago Tonight” on Sept. 27, 2022. (WTTW News)

Hadiya Pendleton’s Mother Continues Fight to End Gun Violence

Nine years after Hadiya Pendleton’s death, her mother, Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton, is still fighting to end gun violence. She founded Hadiya’s Promise – a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending gun violence through education.

(WTTW News)

As Interest Rates Rise, What’s In Store for Chicago’s Real Estate Market?

The Federal Reserve’s latest rate hike means higher potential costs for things like credit card payments, bank loans and mortgages. It will also have an impact on the real estate market.

In this Sept. 17, 2019, file photo, R. Kelly appears during a hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in Chicago. (Antonio Perez / Chicago Tribune via AP, Pool, File)

For Many, Split R. Kelly Verdict Is Long-Awaited But ‘Bittersweet’ Moment

For survivors of sexual assault and their advocates, it has been a long road as a federal jury yesterday convicted singer R. Kelly of six counts of producing child pornography and enticing girls for sex. The conviction comes more than two decades after the crimes took place.

(WTTW News)

Illinois SAFE-T Act Becomes Campaign Issue. What Does It Actually Do?

The Safety, Accountability, Fairness, and Equity Today Act — better known as the SAFE-T Act — was signed into law by Governor J.B. Pritzker in 2021. It has now become a campaign talking point. 

Students at work at the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences in Mount Greenwood. (WTTW News)

Lack of Young Farmers a Concern for Agricultural Industry

The number of farmers in Illinois is declining and the most recent census data shows the average age of a farmer is nearly 60.

(WTTW News)

Local Organizations Join Together in Push for Equity in Illinois Marijuana Industry

Three local organizations are banding together in an effort to bring more equity to the Illinois marijuana industry.

School is about a week and a half into session and CPS students have seen some changes around campus and in their classrooms. (WTTW News)

CPS School Years Begins with New Guidelines

School is about a week and a half into session and CPS students have seen some changes around campus and in their classrooms. Also different this year - COVID protocols, which no longer require someone to quarantine if they've had an exposure. After two-plus years of work stoppages and labor disputes, will students finally get to enjoy a fully uninterrupted school year?

(WTTW News)

Racial Segregation Still Prevalent in Church Communities

According to the Equal Justice Initiative, 86% of American churches have no significant racial diversity. The Pew Research Center reports that 57% of churchgoers attend a predominantly White congregation.

President Joe Biden signs the Inflation Reduction Act into law at the White House on Aug. 16, 2022. (CNN)

Law Caps Monthly Insulin Cost for Medicare Users, But Cost Remains High For Others

President Joe Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law this week, which among other things, puts a $35 cap on insulin prices. But that will only apply to Medicare recipients, leaving the rest of Americans who depend on the life-saving medication to continue paying huge prices.

Dr. Sameer Vohra took over the Illinois Department of Public Health earlier this month. (WTTW News)

New State Health Director Starts Tenure with Challenges Around COVID-19, Monkeypox and Polio

Dr. Sameer Vohra took over the Illinois Department of Public Health earlier this month.

Indiana State Rep. Mike Andrade appears on “Chicago Tonight: Latino Voices” on Aug. 13, 2022. (WTTW News)

One-on-One with Mike Andrade, Indiana’s Only Latino State Representative

According to the Indiana Latino Institute, undocumented immigrants contribute nearly $100 million to the state’s economy. Yet when it comes to their representation in the general assembly the state has a single Latino representative.