What We Do
Chicago Votes is committed to developing a new generation of young leaders from all corners of the city. Young Chicagoans are engaging their communities, running grassroots campaigns, and changing the culture of politics in Chicago.
The Cook County Jail (CCJ) is the largest single site jail in America and most of the people detained there do not know that they have the right to vote, but they do! So Chicago Votes launched the CCJ Votes Project. Through this project we register voters in CCJ every month; write legislation to make voting and civic knowledge more accessible for community members in jails statewide; ensure that there is an elections process happening in CCJ; and educate people behind bars on their civic rights. We always need more help, to learn more and to get involved click below.
Parade to the Polls began in 2013 after an eager group of high school students convinced one of our organizers to bring them to vote on the spot. In true Chicago Votes fashion, we rolled with it; loaded the students into a van and took them to go vote for the first time. We recognized in that moment that it is one thing to register young people, but it is a whole different level of civic engagement bringing them to go vote, on the spot … for the first time! Now, every year we partner with Chicago Public Schools to lead dozens of parades to the polls from schools all over the city. In 2016, Chance the Rapper lead a citywide parade of over 6,000 people to the largest early voting site in the city.
DemocracyCorp is the engine the makes Chicago Votes run. Through DemocracyCorp new organizers learn how to create and implement civic engagement programs in their communities. Basically, young people are given the tools they need to organize. At the end of the program, organizers walk away with the basic tools they need to enact to systematic change at all levels for the rest of their lives. Application Opens April 2018