The Reimagining Democracy initiative engages young Chicagoans to disrupt the status quo of politics.
The Reimagining Democracy initiative encompasses Parade to the Polls™, our elections and legislative tracking curriculums in CPS, our College Polling Place Campaign, Election Judge Recruitment, GOTV campaigns, and the Voter Guide program. That’s A LOT, but essentially the Reimagining Democracy initiative engages young Chicagoans to disrupt the status quo of politics.
Parade to the Polls™
Chicago Votes’ oldest initiative, Parade to the Polls™ is a celebration of democracy. Our mission is to create a tradition of voting through hyper-local, civic action. We bring young people to the polls from high schools, colleges, concerts, and large-scale events.
Download the 2024 Parade to the Polls Launch Packet!
What started as a small, after-school event at Mather High School in the Spring of 2014, has transformed into a full-fledged program that has engaged more than 20 high schools and taken over 5,000 young people to cast their first ballots. Let’s continue to empower young people and create life-long voters by coordinating a celebratory trip to the polls this election season.
This packet outlines the essential steps to escort first-time, high school voters to the polls.
High School Parades
Our high school Parade to the Polls™ program focuses on ensuring 18 year olds’ first time voting experience is safe, comfortable, and fun! Chicago Votes has worked with over 17 local high schools and executed over 50 parades take over one thousand students to cast their first ballot.
The College Parade to the Polls™ program focuses on bringing campus organizations together to discuss issues impacting students both on campus and in their communities. Students come together to rally in a centralized location on campus and parade to the closest Early Vote Polling Place.
Citywide Parade to the Polls™ was born in 2016 when Chicago Votes partnered with local, Chicago artists to put on a free get out the vote concern in Millennium Park. Our second citywide event was hosted in partnership with Women’s March Chicago. Each of these events attracted thousands of Chicagoans and encouraged them to take advantage of Early Voting by coordinating MASSIVE marches to the polls.
Party at the Polls
Chicago Votes partnered with the #VoteTogether coalition during 2018 midterm elections to execute our very first, hyper local events that worked to increase voter turnout in our targeted communities.
Ahead of each election, Chicago Votes creates a nonpartisan voter guide. The guides include voting 101 information like dates and deadlines, explanations of offices on the ballot, candidate questionnaires, and more. The guide is published on our vote center, printed and distributed inside Cook County Jail, and mailed to young Chicagoans throughout the city.
Legislative Tracking Curriculum in Chicago Public Schools
From passion project to full fledged curriculum, our legislative tracking activities in CPS bring students into the legislative process! Alex Boutros, community organizing manager, dreamt up the legislative tracking curriculum to demystify the legislative process and ensure young people have input in the policymaking process.
Check out the work of Mr. Potter’s student at Back of the Yards College Prep High School. This student chose to create a campaign supporting HB116, lifting the ban on rent control.
Are you a Chicago Educator?
Civic Teacher Think Tank
The purpose of the civic teacher think tank is to bring together civic teachers that are engaged with Chicago Votes in civic education activities. We will work as a team to identify the best ways to uplift the needs of our school communities and to further develop our existing curriculum.
Legislative Tracking Curriculum
Bring the Legislative Tracking Curriculum to your students! This curriculum brings students into the legislative process, teaching them how a bill moves through the House and Senate and ways to advocate for legislation.
Parade to the Polls™
Interested in hosting a parade to the polls™ at your school? We’ll lead students through the electoral process and voter education. Then, you’ll parade our way to vote with music, megaphones, and a whole lotta fun!