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Stories by Brandis Friedman

Building Credit from Scratch

In a post-recession economy, many people are fearful of credit and credit card debt. But one program is helping people with poor or no credit get credit cards. Brandis Friedman explains why this program is actually helpful. Read an article and watch a web extra video.

Zombie Properties

Like the name suggests, zombie properties are often abandoned homes with no one living in them. Banks have foreclosed on them, but didn’t follow through with completion. Brandis Friedman takes a look at why that happens, the impact on the community, and what can be done. Read an article, watch a web extra video, and view a map of zombie properties in Chicago.

Sandwich Me In

A Lakeview restaurant has the recipe for being green. Find out how Justin Vrany’s restaurant, Sandwich Me In, produced less than eight gallons of trash during two years of being in business. Brandis Friedman has the story of this eco-friendly eatery. Read an article, check out one of Vrany's recipes, and view a slideshow.

Long-Term Unemployment

People who have been out of work for more than six months have a harder time getting hired again. Brandis Friedman has the story of a Chicago-based nonprofit ahead of the curve in helping those workers get back to work, and the support it’s getting from the White House. Read an article.

Buffett Place

The Lakeview neighborhood has a unique new place for people who are homeless, and suffer mental illness or disabilities, to call home. Brandis Friedman takes a look inside. Read an article and watch a web extra video.

Tutoring & Mentoring Show Significant Results for High School Students

New research shows that the combination of mentoring and intensive tutoring can make up for three years' worth of lost learning for 9th and 10th grade boys who were previously at risk of dropping out down the road. Brandis Friedman has the story. Read an article and watch a web extra video.

Drill Music

A new phenomenon in hip hop music, called drill music, is unique to Chicago and gaining in popularity. We talk with one of the genre’s rising stars and examine the criticisms of the music’s lyrics. Read an article and watch a web extra video.

Lathrop Homes Redevelopment

Plans to renovate Chicago Public Housing project Lathrop Homes on the north side have been in the works for years. We take a look at the redevelopment’s progress and find out why the community is fighting some changes. Read an article and view a slideshow.


Though the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare, has only gone into effect this year, some parts of the new law have already gone into effect in Cook County. We take a look at the early Medicaid expansion called CountyCare. Read an article and watch a web extra video.

Boot Camp Labor Put to Use in Community

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart plans to eradicate abandoned and blighted homes throughout the county, using county boot camp labor. What community is he starting with? Brandis Friedman has the story. Read an article and view a slideshow.

Special Education Shortage

School districts across the country are reporting a shortage of special education teachers. We take a look at Chicago Public Schools' shortage and find out how districts and universities are working to fill the void. Read an article and watch a web extra video.

Local Hospital Notifies Patients of Potential Bacteria Exposure

Patients at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge may have been exposed to antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Read an article.

Training for Concealed Carry

Gun owners fill firearms training classes required to apply for their concealed carry licenses—which went into effect Jan. 5. We go inside the class to find out what students are learning and what they think of the law’s requirements. Read an article.

Concealed Carry Application Process

Illinois State Police demonstrate the concealed carry application process in advance of the law going into effect on Jan 5, 2014. Brandis Friedman has the details. Watch a web extra video.


Crime numbers in Chicago are reportedly at their lowest levels in decades. We take a look behind the scenes at the Chicago Police Department to see what strategies police leadership believe are working. Watch a web extra video.

Concealed Carry Complications

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart is raising concerns about local law enforcement's ability to object to certain concealed carry applicants. Brandis Friedman has the details. Read an article.


From building a website to building the computer itself, students from the Woodlawn neighborhood are getting hands-on technological experience under a new program called Artifice. The programs founders, who are affiliates of the University of Chicago, say they hope the program will provide the students with skills that will eventually turn into careers or small businesses. Read an article.

Early Education in Latino Community

As one in four births in Illinois is a Latino child, advocates at the Latino Policy Forum say the Latino community needs further investment, particularly in early education. We take a look at a home visiting program designed to help mothers learn how to better prepare their children for the first days of school, so that Latino children don’t start off academically behind their peers. Read an article and watch a web extra video.

Concealed Carry in Illinois

As Illinois prepares to become the last state to pass a concealed carry gun law, we discuss how both law enforcement and businesses are expecting to be affected. Read an article.

Bill Introduced to Expand Early Learning Programs

A bill introduced in Congress today would expand access to high-quality preschool for 4-year-old children from low and moderate income families. Read a summary of the bill and a fact sheet.

Poverty and the Brain

Researchers at two local universities are looking into how poverty impacts young minds. We have the story. Learn more about the studies, and view a photo gallery.

Head Start Program Uses Environmental Approach to Early Learning

A teaching method that started in Italy, and isn’t often seen in low-income communities, is helping pint-sized students in the Back of the Yards neighborhood learn from their environment—despite their environment’s penchant for violence. Read an article and watch a web extra video.