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Chicago High Schoolers Educate Voters on Civic Duty

Chicago-area high school students are phone-banking from home as part of a get-out-the-vote effort. (Adobe Stock)
Chicago-area high school students are phone-banking from home as part of a get-out-the-vote effort. (Adobe Stock)
October 28, 2020

CHICAGO -- While they can't legally cast a ballot themselves yet, dozens of Illinois high school students are working to ensure that people of voting age understand the importance of their civic duty.

As part of the WOKE Project, roughly 130 young people from three Chicago-area high schools are working the phones and pounding pavement to offer nonpartisan election information to eligible voters.

Jasmine Roach, 17, a junior at Prosser Career Academy, said the work they're doing is very important to her, personally.

"I get to vote next year, so I learn a lot through this program," she said. "It helped me learn about the politics, what's going on with the election, what can we do to get our voices heard, especially in the Black and Brown community."

Following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's COVID-19 guidelines, some students are manning a phone bank tonight while others will drop off literature in person. The WOKE Project, which stands for "Working On Knowledge and Equity", brings together educators and students of color for learning beyond the classroom, with a focus on direct engagement in their communities. Thirteen civics classes are part of this week's get-out-the vote effort.

As a junior at Roosevelt High School, Alexandra Moreno, 16, said she enjoys the outreach work and believes the main point of voting is to make communities better.

"I thought it was important for our communities to be more safe, be united, to be more positive," she said. "It's kind of dangerous right now, but that's why we need to vote -- to make power, to make our community safe."

Roach said the WOKE Project helps support young people in the community who are struggling and can feel they have nowhere else to turn.

"They have programs where you can go if your mental health is not OK," she said. "If you don't have money for food, they help out with that. If you need help with homework, they help you with that, they get you tutors."

The WOKE Project is a partnership between Voices of Youth in Chicago Education and Communities United.

Mary Schuermann Kuhlman, Public News Service - IL