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)

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.

(WTTW News)

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.

Orlando Mayorga delivers a talk as part of FIRSTHAND: Life After Prison. (WTTW)

Thousands of restrictive laws govern people who have been released from prison in the United States, making it difficult for them to find housing, employment and to restart life after they have done their time.

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

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)

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)

Chris Javier, a deacon at Chinese Christian Union Church, has been working on developing safety plans for residents in the community. Going door to door, he’s been educating residents on how to keep themselves protected against the rise in hate crimes, scams and more.

(WTTW News)

Everything about one’s experience of living in Chicago can be traced back to segregation and race, according to community leader José Rico, executive director of Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Chicago.

Tonika Johnson, pictured in 2020, created the Folded Map project to correct misconceptions about certain neighborhoods in Chicago. (WTTW News)

Since we first met Tonika Lewis Johnson in 2020, she has expanded the Folded Map project — adding workshops, a play and a movie.

A homeless encampment in Chicago. (WTTW News)

Chicago’s homeless population would receive significant funding and support from the city under Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s budget proposal. As part of our “Firsthand: Living in Poverty” series, we take a look at how that money would be allocated.

A food pantry in Woodridge. (WTTW News)

As part of our “Firsthand: Living in Poverty” series, we hear about the current state of food insecurity in Chicago — and possible solutions to the problem.

(WTTW News)

Families living in poverty are more likely to be involved with the child welfare system, according to a recent brief from the University of Chicago. As part of our “Firsthand: Living in Poverty” series, we look at the barriers facing families that need financial assistance.

(WTTW News)

Community organizations and state lawmakers are working to make menstrual products more accessible to Illinoisans who need them. We take a look at the issue in our Firsthand: Living in Poverty series.

The Greater Chicago Food Depository supplies food pantries across the Chicago area. (WTTW News)

The Greater Chicago Food Depository, which supplies food pantries across the area, says in its more than 40-year history it has never seen a hunger crisis like the one caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. We discuss the issue as part of WTTW’s Firsthand initiative exploring poverty.

(Photo by Aaron Doucett on Unsplash)

The U.S. poverty rate last month reached its highest point during the pandemic at 11.7%, according to researchers at the University of Chicago and the University of Notre Dame. We discuss the issue as part of WTTW’s Firsthand initiative exploring poverty.

(WTTW News via CNN)

Two bills in the Illinois General Assembly would expand eligibility for the earned income tax credit. As part of our Firsthand initiative exploring poverty in Chicago, we take a look at the credit, and what it could mean for low-income households.

Labor activists join some public officials downtown for a rally in support of raising the minimum wage in August 2019. (WTTW News)

The latest COVID-19 relief bill could come up for a vote in Congress as early as next week, but a key Democratic priority might be on the chopping block. We explore the potential impact of raising the minimum wage.