Axios Chicago

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Happy Wednesday!

  • Today's weather: Partly sunny with a high of 36. But gets colder as the day goes on.

Situational awareness: If you've been waiting to get free at-home COVID-19 tests, today might be your lucky day. You should be able to order up to four per household at

Today's newsletter is 890 words โ€” a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Chicago VCs up, but still behind, in diversity

Data: Chicago:Blend; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Chicago's tech industry saw a record year for fundraising, but a new study says it lags behind other cities when it comes to diversity.

Why it matters: According to the annual VC Diversity Survey from Chicago:Blend, 2021 did see growth in both minorities and women working in venture capital, but Chicago is still behind national averages.

What they're saying: "Although we are pleased that the share of underrepresented professionals working in Chicago's venture industry increased last year, we know that much more needs to be done to bring greater equity to this sector," says Joey Mak, executive director of Chicago:Blend. "Especially given that Chicago is demographically more diverse than the nation as a whole."

Survey takeaways: Latino professionals saw the biggest spike from 2020 to 2021, with an 80% increase in the VC workforce. They now represent 4.3% of Chicago's total VC employees, lower than the national average of 7%.

  • Black professionals increased over 12% and now make up 6% of the Chicago VC workforce, outpacing the national average of 4%.
  • Asian professionals were up 10% year over year but now represent just over 10% of the workforce, much lower than the national rate of 18%.
  • Women in VC saw a slight increase in 2021, but the 34% figure in Chicago is well behind the national rate of 45%.

Big picture: Funds are being set up in Chicago to address the issue of raising money for founders of color.

  • "We launched Fifth Star Funds specifically to address the lack of capital being invested in early stage Black tech founders in Chicago," Samir Mirza, co-founder of the VC fund, tells Axios. "We seek to bridge the funding gap by using a robust, objective process of evaluating founders so we can remove the racial biases that have existed in the venture landscape."

What's next: Chicago:Blend is hosting a webinar and panel discussion at 9am today.

2. CPS facing COVID demands and allegations

A photo of students marching in protest.
Students march to CPS headquarters last Friday. Photo courtesy of Alyssa Shih

Hundreds of Chicago Public School students walked out of classes late last week to demand better safety measures until COVID-19 dangers subside.

  • "COVID rates are just getting higher and we want to protect the kids at our school by going online," Lake View High School junior Aiden M. told Axios Friday.

Why it matters: The fight over CPS COVID safety is far from over as Chicago suffers record hospitalizations and some schools still show single digit vaccination rates.

State of play: The walkout happened amid reports of dozens of students being crammed into auditoriums with little to no supervision last week.

  • Axios sources also allege CPS is underreporting case and quarantine figures on its COVID dashboard. These numbers can determine if a school goes to remote learning.
  • CPS did not respond to multiple requests over several days seeking a direct response to any of these demands or allegations.

By the numbers: As of Tuesday night, there were 1,117 CPS adult staff and 13,236 students in quarantine.

The bottom line: Tensions between the district and its critics are likely to remain high as long as trust remains low and COVID continues to surge.

3. Tips and hot links

Photo of hot dogs in the shape of a peace sign.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

๐Ÿ’‰ Illinois has administered over 20 million COVID vaccine doses. (Daily Herald)

๐Ÿ“ฐ Chicago Public Media's board of directors voted last night to acquire the Chicago Sun-Times. Both WBEZ and the Sun-Times will continue with their own newsrooms, staff and maintain "editorial independence." (WBEZ)

๐Ÿ“ž All hail the 464! A new area code will share the south and near west suburbs with 708. (Sun-Times)

๐Ÿฝ A new single-use foodware ordinance means you now have to ask for plastic takeout utensils. (WTTW)

Seven Chicago staff members of The A.V. Club have quit instead of relocating to L.A. (Twitter)

๐Ÿ“ป The post-Eric Ferguson era begins at The Mix, with Chris Petlak taking over mornings. (Robert Feder)

Fresh job openings around town

๐Ÿคฟ Dive into a new role with our Job Board.

  1. Account Director at Reputation Partners.
  2. Senior Insurance Customer Service Agent at Medix.
  3. Sales Director, H&W at NielsenIQ.

Want more opportunities? Check out our Job Board.

Hiring? Post a job.

4. Illinois traffic laws scrutinized

Data:ย Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety; Map: Jared Whalen/Axios

Illinois ranks near the middle of the country when it comes to passing life-saving traffic laws, according to a new scorecard from the Advocates for Auto and Highway Safety.

Why it matters: National roadway fatalities spiked in the first half of 2021 by nearly 20%, one of the biggest jumps the U.S. has seen in more than a decade, according to federal regulators.

Laws we have: Illinois got points for rules on front and rear seat belts, rear facing infant seats, open alcohol containers, texting and more.

Laws we lack: The state got dinged for not passing rules on booster seats, not raising the learners permit age to 16 nor requiring all motorcycle riders to wear helmets.

Yes, but: Illinois does fairly well when it comes to traffic fatalities nationally, ranking No. 12 in a Department of Transportation analysis of 2019 data.

5. Thanks for the soup-er recommendations!

A photo of the cover of a book.
Good soup recommendations in the The Korean Vegan Cookbook.

๐Ÿ‘‹ Justin here! Last week I asked for soup recommendations and you did not disappoint.

  • Here are just a few of the suggestions from the best readers in town!

๐Ÿฅ” Leah: I've been cooking soups from The Korean Vegan cookbook. The easiest one to shop for is probably the potato and leek one, gamjaguk and it's very tasty. There's also a potato and fennel soup with fermented bean paste that was very good.

๐ŸŽ Lora N.: My family is currently obsessed with this super easy pork apple miso soup.

๐Ÿฅฆ Carrie H.: We are similarly on a soup kick right now so I'll attach two recent successes (including broccoli and boursin) โ€” one is actually a beef and butternut stew. (I know that can be a point of controversy...)

๐Ÿฅฅ AJ P.: Vitamix app has great soup recipes! My personal favorite, coconut curry butternut squash, is a little more involved than most but worth it.

๐Ÿœ Meg J.: We're doing soup-er Sundays. Just tried this creamy cauliflower from Good Housekeeping and it was fantastic.

Editor's note: Yesterday's top story was corrected to reflect Ken Griffin has not officially committed to supporting Richard Irvin for Illinois governor.

Our picks:

๐Ÿฅฃ Monica is now dying to make all of these soups. Our readers are the best.

๐Ÿˆ Justin likes that the Bears are being thorough in their search for a new GM and head coach. But dang, that's a lot of interviews.

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