Summertime Chi is officially here and the people are outside! We hope you are finding time to get outside and enjoy yourself, reading in the park, meeting up with the girls at the Point, or volunteering with your fav organizers at Chicago Votes 🙂
In this month’s Chicago Votes Monthly, we introduce you to our newest staff member, announce our new volunteer portal, update you on our programming, and tell you how you can tune into the work this month.
|Introducing Camille Williams, Senior Programs Manager and Diversity Equity Inclusion and Accessibility Lead!
(A belated) Welcome back to the team, Camille! Camille Williams has been a part of the Chicago Votes family for years, first joining the team for the 2016 Spring Primaries Project. In the fall of 2022, Camille was brought on to lead our elections fieldwork, managing our fellows and getting young folks to the polls.
Now, she is back permanently as our Senior Programs Manager and Diversity Equity Inclusion and Accessibility Lead! Camille was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago and is incredibly passionate about serving the community. When she isn’t working on field plans and building political power, she is busy at Rush University studying to pursue medical school and women’s health.
Camille is dedicated to building our volunteer base up and would love to connect with you. If you have any thoughts or suggestions on volunteering at Chicago Votes, please email her at email@example.com.
Volunteering with us is easier than ever!
You can sign up to volunteer and get trained on your own time, at your own pace. All of our volunteer opportunities can be found on our new volunteer portal. You can sign up for Cook County Jail Votes, summer tabling opportunities, the GAS Creative Collective, C Space, and more here.
The steps to becoming a volunteer are simple.
- Learn about the programs: Chicago Votes has three initiatives: Give A Sh*t, Reimagining Democracy, and Unlock Civics. Each initiative houses several programs with volunteer opportunities. Read about each program to find a program that aligns with your interests and capacity.
- Get trained: Complete the required training (at your own pace, on your own time!!) for the programs you are interested in. Once completed, you will be prompted to join the program’s email list.
- Check your email: Volunteers will receive opportunities regularly through email and text. Some programs occur on a regular schedule (ex. CCJ Votes), but others take place on an ad hoc basis.
House Bill 39, Voting in Prison
During the Illinois legislative session, a subject matter hearing for Voting in Prison (HB 39) was held in the House Ethics & Elections Committee. Committee members heard testimony from Representative Lashawn Ford, Illinois Alliance for Justice and Reentry’s Avalon Betts-Gaston, Chicago Lawyers’ Committee’s Cliff Helm, voting rights experts Dr. Christina Rivers, and Chicago Votes Co-Executive Director Stevie Valles. We also rallied in the capitol rotunda, making lots of noise! HB 39 remains in the House Ethics & Elections Committee, with a shot at passing during the fall veto session.
To learn about the laws passed throughout the spring session, we recommend you read Amanda Vinickey’s “Legislative Session Roundup: Updates on Chicago’s Elected School Board, Red Light Cameras.”
That being said, our grassroots coalition advocacy continues! 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 pm, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cook County Jail Votes
We registered 75 people to vote in May and another 71 in June. Some of the people we spoke with had attended our civics talks with the University of Chicago ahead of the municipal elections. They reminded us of their election predictions, gave us feedback on our voter guide, and told us about more programming they wish to see.
To become a Cook County Jail Votes volunteer, you must complete the Cook County Jail Votes training. You can now get trained as Cook County Jail Votes volunteer on your own time, at your own pace, using our new volunteer platform. 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!
This summer Chicago Votes is popping out to festivals and block parties to engage folks in civics conversations. Our tent features a prize wheel with civic actions and questions, a storytelling station, and some #UnlockCivics artwork by local artist Ewrks. View our recap of Sueños Music Festival!
Political engagement doesn’t need to start with voting. It can start with conversations and small actions. We’ll be at Lollapalooza, Silver Room Block Party, Bud Billiken, and more for the remainder of the summer. If you are interested in volunteering, which comes with free event entry, take the training course and sign up for shifts!
Give A Sh*t
Introducing 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! The next C Spaces are Friday, July 21st, Friday, August 18th, and Friday, September 15th from 7-9 pm. RSVP for office location!
Sign up for C Space updates 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. Joining gives you access to paid opportunities, including mini grats.
We meet monthly to strategize, share opportunities, and craft alongside one another. July’s Collective meeting will take place during C Space, Friday, July 21st from 7-9 pm in our office (1006 S. Michigan Ave. Ste 606).
Sign up for the Creative Collective here.
Sh*t Talkin’ Central
Sh*t Talkin’ Central got a makeover; check it out (: It’s a hub for think pieces, stories, and Sh*t Talks.
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.
Ideas for stories to pitch:
- The need for safe spaces for youth to congregate evenings/weekends
- A photo series of your neighborhood
- A interview with a local creative
- An interview with your alderperson
- A pitch to voters to stay involved in the summer’s city budget process
Sustainable givers are automatically given membership to the Clique–our membership program. Members of the Clique have access to exclusive concerts, member-only virtual and in-person events and trainings, and more than a few surprises! Oh yeah, you also get access to discounted merchandise from the G.A.S. Station.
Earlier this year, Chicago Votes hosted “Fundraising for Movement Work,” an interactive workshop around raising funds for your initiative. This session is the first part of a series of workshops. This session covers the basics for applying for funding from foundations through grants, navigating funding relationships, and pursuing tax exemption status for your organization.
The workshop was recorded and is available on Youtube. Stay tuned for more fundraising workshops to come!
Fuel the Movement Mondays
Put your fundraising skills to the test! We are a grassroots organization powered by grassroots money. Help us raise funds to keep organizing, paying young creatives, passing laws, and breaking down barriers to civic engagement.
Monday, July 17th from 6-8pm CT. Join on Zoom
- “As Illinois Sees 700% Spike In Abortion Patients Coming Here For Care, Chicago’s Steep Hotel Costs Present Another Obstacle” by Kayleigh Padar in Block Club Chicago
- “Is Chicago’s City Council Changing? What We’re Watching” by Anna Aguiar Kosicki in City Bureau
- “How long does violence prevention take to be effective?” by Chima Ikoro in The TRiiBE