The Chicago Votes Monthly: September 2023

Summer may be coming to an end but the fun is absolutely not letting up. From events to volunteer opportunities, we have lots planned. 

If you’re in a hurry, here are the topline items to know! 

If you have a lil more time, keep reading for all the deets on our programming, volunteer opportunities, and ways to plug into movement work in the city!


You are invited to the second annual Partner and Funder Briefing which will take place on September 14th from 3 – 5:30 pm at Chicago Votes’ office (1006 S. Michigan Ave. Unit 606). A Give A Sh*t Happy Hour (drinks, music, and art) will follow!

At the Partner and Funder Briefing, we will share updates on the work we have been doing as part of our current strategic plan, our vision for the upcoming year, the perspective of young leaders on the current state of youth civic and political work in Chicago, and have some fun!

Please RSVP and/or contribute to Chicago Votes at

Unlock Civics

House Bill 39, Voting In Prison

In Illinois, the last remaining group of disenfranchised citizens is people serving convictions in prison, contributing to the decades-long neglect of the state’s prisons and the needs of those in custody and overpoliced communities. When people in prison cannot vote, influence policy, or hold elected officials accountable, inhumane prison conditions proliferate.

On August 25th, the Unlock Civics Coalition hosted a press conference on voter rights restoration in prison, kicking off the national voter restoration conference, “Civic Power: Challenging 50 Years of Mass Incarceration” at the Wit Chicago. Speakers included Illinois State Senator Mike Simmons and Senator Robert Peters, Illinois State Representative Lashawn Ford, Representative Theresa Mah, and Representative Marcus Evans, and directly impacted advocates, King Moosa, and Avalon Betts Gaston.

We won’t let the momentum for Voting in Prison subside. The Unlock Civics Coalition (made up of organizations, directly impacted people, and advocates) meets weekly. In this space, we discuss strategy and needed advocacy. If you are interested in joining our weekly Unlock Civics Coalition calls on Tuesdays from 4:15 to 5 p.m., email

Interested in Court-Watching?!

Chicago Votes and the Illinois Alliance for Reentry & Justice have launched a court-watching program, sending community members inside Cook County Criminal Court to watch judges and collect data on bias and misconduct. Judges wield a lot of power over people’s lives. They can decide who gets custody of a child, if a family gets evicted, or how long to sentence someone to prison. That is why observing them and their courtrooms is so important.

If you are interested in court-watching, please complete the online, self-paced Court-Watching training! You can also reach out to if you have any questions about the program. 

Cook County Jail Votes

In August, we registered 100 voters inside Divisions 5 & 6 at Cook County Jail. 

We are ALWAYS seeking new Cook County Jail Votes volunteers. To become a volunteer, you must complete the fully online, self-paced Cook County Jail Votes training. To access the training, go to our volunteer portal. Once you complete the training course, you will start receiving monthly CCJ Votes opportunities in your inbox! 

Give A Sh*t

Sh*t Talks return on September 21st!

An all-new season of Sh*t Talks returns Thursday, September 21st with a new host 👀 Stay tuned for our host announcement coming in the next week!

Sh*t Talks are candid conversations with influential Chicagoans about issues young people care about. They uplift and center the voices of young Black and Brown Chicagoans, and provide viewers and listeners with opportunities to take civic action around issues. 

Episodes drop weekly on Thursdays at 8 p.m. You can stream them on Youtube, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts, or Sh*t Talkin’ Central. 

Sh*t Talkin’ Central 

What do you know about your Alder? Claire Kaczanowski, a Humboldt Park resident, interviewed Alder Jessie Fuentes, sharing their experiences growing up in the community and their hopes for it.

Read the full interview with Alder Jessie Fuentes on Sh*t Talkin’ Central!

Alders are elected to represent one of fifty wards (or city districts). Together, all 50 alderpeople serve on the Chicago City Council, passing ordinances and serving our communities. Look up your alderperson here!

Get Paid to Create!

We publish stories submitted by young Chicagoans, a.k.a. you! You can submit op-eds, digital content, poems, and photos. Selected contributors will be paid $100 per published piece. Pitch us a story here. 

Come Through to C Space 

Each month, we open up our office to artists to share space and craft alongside and in community with one another. We call it C Space. Light refreshments are provided! September’s C Space is September 29th from 7-9 pm. Pull up for tacos and stay to craft and engage with other Chicago creatives. 
Sign up for C Space updates and reminders here!

Give A Sh*t Creative Collective

Our Give A Sh*t Creative Collective is a hub for creatives to rethink how we engage young Chicagoans in the political process. The Collective is made up of a diverse set of artists, including designers, musicians, poets, and videographers. Join the community and receive access to paid opportunities, including mini-grants, meetings, and events. September’s Give A Sh*t Creative Collective will take place during C Space, on September 29th from 7-9 pm in our office. 

Join the Creative Collective here.