Suburban Mosaic: District 214, League of Women Voters to host talk about race

  • Audra Wilson

    Audra Wilson

  • Karen Thomas

    Karen Thomas

  • Shafeek Abubaker

    Shafeek Abubaker

Posted12/6/2021 5:30 AM

Northwest Suburban High School District 214 and the League of Women Voters of Arlington Heights and surrounding areas are partnering to host a talk about race on Dec. 15.

Audra Wilson, president and CEO of the Shriver Center on Poverty Law in Chicago, will speak about "What to do When Love and Fear Collide: Unpacking the Conversations Around Race in our Schools."


The session will be held from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Prospect High School, 801 W. Kensington Road in Mount Prospect.

Wilson formerly served as executive director of the League of Women Voters of Illinois, which has nearly 4,000 members and more than 40 chapters statewide. She advanced the league's advocacy on issues of race equity and voting rights. In October 2019, she was appointed chair of the Cook County Commission on Women's Issues by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. 

As part of her talk, Wilson will touch on the controversy over whether critical race theory, or CRT, should be taught in public schools.

The debate over CRT has "hijacked" conversations about race, said Karen Thomas, the league's diversity, equity and inclusion director.

"We want to get away from that because it's not productive," Thomas said. "That's why we're trying to reframe the conversation for our community, specifically so we can work together and move forward together."

To register for the event, visit The session also will be livestreamed on Facebook.

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Muslim chamber

The fledgling Illinois Muslim Chamber of Commerce's website offers a growing directory of suburban Muslim businesses and professionals.

Established in 2019, the chamber is governed by a seven-member volunteer board of business owners from the Northwest and West suburbs.

The not-for-profit chamber aims to help its member businesses with visibility, sharing news, ideas, and best practices, marketing, advocacy, networking and professional development.

"We have around 200 small businesses," said chamber President Shafeek Abubaker of Naperville, who owns Zumitin Inc., a software development, enterprise solution and IT consulting company. "This is a minority community and most of the small businesses are not part of any chambers of commerce."

Abubaker said the goal is to help Muslim small business owners get to know each other and to educate them about the benefits a chamber can provide, as well as government programs that offer support. The chamber also can help influence government officials to create policies benefiting the community, he added.


Chamber board members include: Farhan Ahmed, president of Chi-Care, which provides food, water and shelter to people in need; Zahra Antar of Naperville, real estate broker at Antar Realty and board member of the Islamic Center of Wheaton; Omar Ali, owner of Northwest General Contractors Inc. of Glen Ellyn; Meraj Alam of Bolingbrook, Illinois Chamber of Commerce secretary and business analyst at Shift7 Digital; Thabraize Ahmed, owner of C&A Financial in Rolling Meadows; and Sahira Sadiq of Oak Brook, board member of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago.

Senior living

A new study by Seniorly Resource Center found Illinois is the 23rd most expensive place for assisted-living facilities, with an average monthly cost of $4,066. The national average is $4,057.

Occupancy in senior communities is expected to rebound in 2022 after record low rates during the pandemic.'s study is based on move-in data across the company's network of 40,000 senior communities in 2021.

The study also looked at how many years a person needs to save to afford one year of assisted living. Illinois residents will need to save for 9.8 years based on the state's median income of $65,886, the average savings rate of 7.5%, and the average cost of assisted living.

Alzheimer's scholarship

High school seniors affected by Alzheimer's disease can win up to $5,000 for college through the Alzheimer's Foundation of America's Teen Alzheimer's Awareness Scholarship.

Students can enter the contest at The deadline for submissions is March 1. They must submit an essay of up to 1,500 words describing how Alzheimer's disease has affected their lives and what they have learned from the experience. Students attending college are not eligible to participate.

Awards are $5,000 for first place, $3,500 for second place, $2,500 for third place, $1,500 for fourth place, $1,000 for fifth place, and between $750 and $400 for honorable mentions.

Eliminating disparities

Illinois' Developmental Education Reform Act, signed into law in March, aims to address racial and socioeconomic disparities in college completion.

The legislation was part of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus' 2020 policy agenda aimed at reversing systemic racism in education.

It requires community colleges to use multiple measures to determine whether a student should be placed into developmental education. It also requires public higher education institutions to implement evidence-based developmental education models.

The Partnership for College Completion has been awarded a $255,000 grant from Ascendium Education Group in partnership with the Illinois Community College Board to implement the law's requirements and provide resources to institutions statewide.

"Significant movement toward equity in our state's higher education system cannot happen without a re-envisioning of developmental education, and this collaboration marks a critical step in that direction," PCC Executive Director Lisa Castillo Richmond said.

Nearly half of all full-time freshmen who enroll in an Illinois community college are placed in at least one developmental education course before they can take credit-bearing courses. These courses are designed to develop the reading, writing, and math skills of students deemed underprepared for college-level courses.

In Illinois, only 14% of students placed into developmental education graduate. The problem is particularly acute for Black students -- seven out of 10 are placed in developmental education upon enrolling at a community college.

Colleges must submit their plans for implementing reforms to the community college board by May 1.

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