WILL Pressroom

WILL Education and Illinois Newsroom to host youth civic engagement summit


WILL Education and Illinois Newsroom will host area high school students for the first YES! Civics Youth Engagement Summit on March 13 at Illinois Public Media in Urbana. These social studies students from Eisenhower High School (Decatur), Southeast High School (Springfield), and Hoopeston Area High School have all expressed interest in building their understanding of electoral politics.  

"Participating in constructive civic action is fundamental to democracy. WILL Education and Illinois Newsroom are excited to work with these young people during YES! Civics. It is our hope that local communities across Illinois will have a new generation of empowered leaders who can turn talk into action,” said Kristin Walters, engagement strategist for Illinois Newsroom.

There will be a variety of engagement activities on March 13, but throughout the day students will have access to a special YES! Civics Youth Engagement Summit Instagram account to create content and share their experiences. You can follow the @YesCivics account and even join in the conversation using #YesCivics.

The students will also work together to create an election questionnaire for candidates running for city council and school board in each of their cities. These questionnaires will reflect some of the students’ biggest concerns for their local communities and will attempt to get at how each candidate plans to address their constituents’ worries.

“We often say and hear that youth are our future. WILL Education has worked for decades with young people in our region to help insure they have a bright future,” said Kimberlie Kranich, director of engagement and educational outreach at Illinois Public Media.

After the YES! Civics Youth Engagement Summit, all candidates will be given an opportunity to answer the students’ questions. Their responses will be published on Illinois Public Media’s website ahead of the April 2 elections.

“During this youth summit with Illinois Newsroom, we’ll also be taking a deeper dive into the electoral process, connecting young people to office holders and supporting them in finding their voice before their local elections in April,” said Kranich.

Students will also interact with school board and city council members from their cities, as well as journalists from the WILL newsroom, the Hoopeston Chronicle, and the Commercial News

The following office holders will join students in a moderated panel discussion about their elected office:

  • Clarissa Nickerson Fourman, Champaign City Council
  • Bill Goodwine, Hoopeston City Council
  • Dave Horn, Decatur City Council
  • Sherrie Perkins, Decatur School Board
  • Jeffrey Perkins, former Decatur School Board
  • Russ Walder, former Hoopeston Area School Board
  • Mike Zimmer, Springfield School Board

The following media professionals will join students in a moderated panel discussion about the role of the media in elections:

  • Lee Gaines, education reporter, WILL and Illinois Newsroom
  • Jordan Crook, editor, the Hoopeston Chronicle
  • Niala Boodhoo, host and executive producer of The 21st
  • Christine Herman, health reporter, WILL and Side Effects Public Media
  • Larry Smith, editor, the Commercial News
  • Alan Montecillo, senior producer on The 21st
  • Bobbi McSwine, intern on The 21st  
  • Sarah Edwards, senior producer, Illinois Public Media
  • DJ Roach, production manager, Illinois Public Media
  • Kellie Blanden, asst. director of educational outreach and professional development, WILL Education

The YES! Civics Youth Engagement Summit and Illinois Newsroom’s community and digital engagement efforts are supported with funding from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation. The McCormick Foundation’s mission is to work with communities in Chicagoland and across Illinois to develop educated, informed, and engaged citizens.