Democracy is a verb.


Analyzing Community

Chicago Stats by Neighborhood

Looking for data on the City of Chicago? The city’s Data Portal offers a wealth of spreadsheets, tables and maps that that are well-formatted for easy access by residents and researchers alike. (Most can also be downloaded so that users can work with the data as they choose.) Click here for one such spreadsheet that breaks down socioeconomic indicators such as unemployment rates, high school graduation rates, and poverty rates by neighborhood.

Community Mapping

The City of Chicago offers neighborhood maps online that teachers can easily utilize in the Asset Mapping lessons.  These maps can be projected from a transparency or an LCD projector onto a large sheet of butcher paper and traced to create a large map for the class to work on.  Or teachers can print out neighborhood maps for each student individually and have them create a key of neighborhood assets.  This may be especially useful at schools where students come from a wide range of neighborhoods across the city.  To access the City of Chicago neighborhood map website, click here.

Data Across the States

As your students settle on an issue and begin their research, check out the Kids Count Data Center for a wealth of information in chart and table form on topics ranging from economic well-being to health insurance access to test scores. Click here to access the site.

Data & Maps of Chicago Communities

LISC Chicago has assembled a wealth of information about each neighborhood into a Data Book that provides a snapshot of the community’s condition. Data sources include the U.S. Census, City of Chicago departments, Woodstock Institute and market studies. Click here to find these materials.

Halsted Street USA

Those who enjoyed WBEZ’s time lapse video of segregation on Chicago’s CTA Red Line should also check out this one hour documentary narrated by Studs Terkel that follows Halsted Street from south to north as a thread that connects a rich variety of communities. Click here to access the video.

Identifying Assets

Students often struggle with how to know if something is an asset or not in their community.  A few questions you might use to help them think about this are:  What people do you admire in your neighborhood?  What stores in your neighborhood do you like to go to, or are good to have?  What parks, libraries, houses of worship exist?  What is your favorite thing to do in your neighborhood?  What talents do young people bring to your neighborhood?

It is important to remember that identifying community assets does not have a right or wrong answer.  It is possible for people to view elements of the community quite differently (one person might think having a supermarket is a great thing while another believes the food is of poor quality and overpriced so it is a negative).  This is a good opportunity to have students practice using evidence to support their opinions and to demonstrate open discourse and debate in the classroom.

Identifying Your Representatives

These websites can help students identify their elected officials:


MetroPulse is a web resource of the Regional Indicators Project (created by the Chicago Community Trust and the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning) that provides extensive data on a variety of issues that affect the livability of communities in the Chicagoland area. Classes trying to find reliable information about topics ranging from unemployment to safety to greenhouse gas emissions to transportation will find this site a valuable resource! Click here to access the site.

The People in Your Neighborhood

Wondering who else lives in your community? Check out this interactive feature from the NYTimes that uses data from the 2010 Census to show users the racial, economic and education-level makeup of their neighborhood, city, and state.

The Price of Intolerance

Steve Bogira’s two part series in the Chicago Reader, “The Price of Intolerance,” offers an in-depth exploration of how racial tensions in neighborhoods like Back of the Yards grew in the early 1970s as black families began to move into what had been all white neighborhoods. Click here to find further description of and links to the article.

Segregation on the Red Line

As part of the series Race Out Loud, WBEZ reporter Dan Weissmann rode the CTA’s Red Line from end to end, talking with commuters at different stops about their ride, and creating a time-lapse video to show how the train’s ridership changes as it moves from North to South. Both the video and accompanying article provide great discussion material for teachers interested in addressing segregation and/or community mapping in class. Click here to access the site.

What Does Citizenship Mean to You?

As part of its 21st Century Citizen series, the LA Times editorial board asked a range of Southern Californians what it means to be a citizen and why it matters. Is it a matter of a piece of paper? Participation? Voting? Or something else? Teachers seeking prompts to start this same conversation with students can click here to find 12 short videos that serve that purpose or here to read the Editorial Board’s answer to its own question.


students from 117 schools nationwide presented speeches and/or worked on civic action projects


Mikva students serve as election judges each election cycle


students campaigned during the 2015-16 Election Season


young people served in the Chicagoland area, California and Washington DC


of Mikva alumni encourage their friends and family to be politically engaged, vs. only 35% of 18-29 yr. olds nationwide


of Mikva alumni are registered voters, vs. only 53% of 18-29 yr. olds nationwide


Chicagoland teachers participate in Mikva Challenge programs


of Mikva alumni continue to volunteer in their communities, vs. only 36% of 18-29 yr. olds nationwide

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