Cheryl Corley

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The state of Illinois has been in a budget crisis since 2015. All that instability meant vendors didn't get paid, and students left state universities. Now finally, a breakthrough. Here's NPR's Cheryl Corley.

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The design for the Obama Presidential Center was unveiled Wednesday at an event attended by former President Obama and Michelle Obama.

The Center, slated to be completed in 2021, will be located in the Jackson Park neighborhood of Chicago's South side and it will include three buildings — a museum, forum and library that surround a public plaza.

A century ago, it was one of the biggest names in retail. Now, even Sears officials say its future could be in doubt — though they say they have plans to make sure the retail icon survives.

Nancy Koehn with the Harvard Business School says that in its early days, Sears Roebuck and Co. was like Amazon is today — a retailer of great disruption.

For Sears, it meant a path-breaking strategy of offering all sorts of merchandise in catalogs and building department stores in remote places with ample parking.

As gun violence continues to plague some of Chicago's neighborhoods, a violence prevention program is looking to tackle the issue by treating it like a public health crisis.

Chicago's murder rate is below that of other cities, but the actual number of murders in the city last year — most from gun violence — exceeded the combined total of murders in New York City and Los Angeles.

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The number of anti-Muslim hate groups nearly tripled last year. That's just one of the dramatic statistics in a new report by the Southern Poverty Law Center. NPR's Cheryl Corley has more on the growth of hate groups in the U.S.

Algonquin, Ill., is a Republican stronghold. The growing town of 28,000 is about an hour's drive northwest of Chicago in McHenry County, the only one of six in the metro area to vote for President Trump.

At Short Stacks, a small diner on Main Street, Ginger Underwood sits at a table with her two adult daughters. She voted for Donald Trump and says that, so far, she is glad she did.

"I think Trump is doing exactly what he said he was going to do when he ran for office," she says. "So that's fine with me, that he's doing what he's doing."

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President Obama's adopted hometown of Chicago is often the stage for pivotal moments in his career. He claimed victory in Chicago in 2008 and again in 2012. And it's where he will give his farewell address on Tuesday night.

Many Chicagoans use the word "pride" when talking about Barack Obama. You can hear it in their voices. In this city, where President-elect Donald Trump got only 12 percent of the vote, admiration for President Obama is strong.

Kim Chisholm stood with thousands of others in the bitter cold this weekend to get a ticket to Obama's speech.

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Deadly encounters between police and civilians often made 2016 a year full of palpable tension. Across the country, demonstrators took to the streets to protest police shootings, while at the same time officers in a number of states were targeted and killed by gunmen.

Both situations have prompted law enforcement to examine use-of-force policies.

With Donald Trump's choices for secretaries of transportation and of housing and urban development — Elaine Chao and Dr. Ben Carson, respectively — there may be hints about the urban agenda Trump's administration may be shaping.

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It will be a night of tension and hope for baseball fans in Chicago when the Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers play Game 6 of the National League Championship Series on Saturday.

If the Cubs win, they will move on to the World Series to face the American League champion Cleveland Indians. It will be a step closer to fulfilling a wish of a faithful fan, 101-year-old Virginia Wood.

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And let's remember a man who brought blues to music fans across the country. Phil Chess has died at age 95. He co-founded Chess Records, the Chicago label that was home to Etta James and Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf. NPR's Cheryl Corley has more.

In an effort to heal the fractured relationship between the Chicago Police Department and city residents, the city council voted to approve a new police oversight agency, but some critics say the new agency isn't a solution to the problems facing the community.

Each of the photos in Capt. William A. Prickitt's album could fit in a locket: headshots of 17 black soldiers who served under the Union Army officer during the Civil War, most of their names handwritten on the mat surrounding the images.

At just 2 inches tall, the square, leather-bound album itself could be easily misplaced among the more than 35,000 artifacts it will join at the Smithsonian's new National Museum of African American History and Culture when it opens this week in Washington, D.C.

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Tacarra Morgan lives in a big two-story, A-frame house that sits next to an empty, grassy corner lot on Chicago's South Side.

On a sunny afternoon earlier in July, gunfire broke out while the 6-year-old sat on the porch with her grandmother and her mother, Carolyn Morris.

"All l I know, bullets starting coming from that way. I didn't see who was shooting," Morris says. "I didn't see anything and my daughter is so strong, I didn't even know she was shot."

They all ran in the house; all Tacarra said was that her stomach hurt, her mother recalls.

In churches across the country, pastors, priests and other religious leaders will talk to a nation still reeling from this past week's fatal shootings of two black men by police officers and the death of five police officers slain by a lone gunman. People often turn to faith during times of crisis — attending services and listening to sermons.

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Tiny homes, which can be as little as 50 to 300 square feet, are growing in popularity as a solution for the homeless. In Chicago, advocates want to build tiny houses to serve a specific marginalized group — homeless youth, especially those who identify as LGBTQ.

Chicago's North Broadway Street is always bustling, but in the past few weeks, it has been noisier than ever. There is water flowing from an open fire hydrant, and as traffic inches by, a cement truck backs up and pours concrete down into a big hole in the street.

"Well, we always say there's two seasons: either winter and construction," says Maureen Martino, the executive director of the Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce. This water main upgrade is only the beginning; Martino says the city has plenty more scheduled for the area this year.

It was a controversial move when Madison, Wis., decided to replace all its lead pipes in 2001. But that decision put the city ahead of the curve — allowing it to avoid the lead water contamination that is plaguing cities like Flint, Mich., now.

Madison started using copper instead of lead water pipes in the late 1920s. The bulk of the lead lines were located in the older part of the city, which is downtown near Wisconsin's state Capitol.

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