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Get Involved with DtWT


Do the Write Thing involves folks from across the city of Chicago to reduce youth violence. Young people are invited to share their ideas through written word, educators are invited to share the challenge with their students and support them throughout the process, and community members are invited to volunteer as readers and supporters.


Interested in sharing your perspective on the causes of youth violence, the impact of violence on your life, and ways we can stop youth violence? We want to hear from you. If you are a sixth, seventh, or eighth grade student in Chicago, we invite you to participate.

All student submissions are reviewed by a team of volunteers and culled to 100 selections. These selections are shared with a team of distinguished readers, who select two student writers to represent Chicago at the Do the Write Thing Summit in Washington DC. Their writings are published, bound, and placed at the Library of Congress, the largest library in the country.


Each fall, the National Campaign to Stop Violence makes the Do the Write Thing guidelines available to Chicago principals, teachers, and support staff. All Chicago educators are encouraged to share the challenge with sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students in their network. Here are resources for principals and teachers.


Each year, we receive over 800 written pieces from sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students in Chicago answering the question of how violence has affected their lives and what they think the solutions are. Volunteers are asked to donate just a bit of their time to help us read and score these wonderful pieces. Writings are typically 2-3 pages long so it should take readers about one hour.

Volunteer to Be a Reader

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Several local leadership and educational organizations support Do the Write Thing participants with resources and mentorship. These include 826CHI, the Anti-Defamation League, Chicago Chess Foundation, Chicago City Soccer Club, Chicago Scholars, Chicago Tutoring Connections, Center on Halsted, Girls in the Game, Marwen, Project Increase, South Side Help Center, and Youth Guidance.

If you are a community organization who wants to amplify student voice and support Do the Write Thing, we’d love to connect you with our amazing student participants.

Distinguished Panelists Over the Years Include:

Dr. Donell Barnett
Deputy Director of Mental Health Operations,
State of Illinois

Lyle Berkowitz
MD, CEO, KeyCare

Sean Berkowitz
Former Assistant U.S. Attorney, Partner,
Latham & Watkins LLP

David Brown
Chicago Police Superintendent

Eleanor Cabrere
General Counsel & Senior Vice President,
Navistar, Inc.

David Cherry
Director, All Stars Project of Chicago

RJ Collins
Singer, Contestant on “The Voice”

Steven Covey
Former General Counsel & Senior Vice President, Navistar, Inc.

Hon. Judge Robert M. Dow, Jr.
U.S.D.C. for the Northern District of Illinois

Richard J. Durbin
U.S. Senator

Leif Elsmo
Executive Director of External Affairs,
University of Chicago School of Medicine

Zachary Fardon
Former U.S. Attorney, Northern District of Illinois

Hon. Judith Fitzgerald
Retired Judge

Collins T. Fitzpatrick
Circuit Executive, U.S. Court of Appeals For The Seventh Circuit

Terri Foster
Founder, Chicago Charity Challenge

Sal Guccione
Former Assistant Superintendent, Office of the Catholic Schools

Ron Guerrier
Global Chief Information Officer, HP

Desiree Hanford
Asst. Professor, Dir. of Academic Integrity & Appeals, Medill School of Journalism,
Northwestern University

Brad Karkula
Assistant Vice President, Associate Banker,
Citibank N.A.

Hon. Judge Charles P. Kocoras
U.S.D.C for the Northern District of Illinois

Sara Gilley Krivoshia
Principal, Cornerstone Research

Heidi Kuehl
Seventh Circuit Librarian, US Court of Appeals

Harry Lennix
Director, Stage and Screen Actor

Laurence H. Levine
Partner, Laurence H. Levine Law Offices

Warren Lupel
Special Counsel, Much Shelist, P.C.

Yolanda Magallanes
Development Director, Organizing For Action

Sarah Marino
Director of Accreditation, Medical Assisting Education Review Board

Bethany McLean
Contributing Editor, Vanity Fair

Darryl McPherson
U.S. Marshal, U.S. Department of Justice,
Northern District of Illinois

Sean Nelson
CEO & President, Youth for Understanding USA

Hon. Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer
U.S.D.C Northern District of Illinois

Cleopatra Cowley-Pendelton
Co-Founder of Hadiya’s Promise

Pamela Pepper
Chief United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin

Cary Perlman
Retired Partner, Latham & Watkins LLP

John Pont
Associate Coach, University of Chicago Maroons

Jessica Roberts
Assistant Professor, School of Interactive Computing, Georgia Institute of Technology

Judah Rodgon
Senior Counsel, Wells Fargo

Hon. Judge Mary Rowland
U.S.D.C Northern District of Illinois

Paul Rutherford
Vice Chairman, Cook County Crime Stoppers

Andrea Saenz
COO, The Chicago Community Trust

Rey Saldaña
CEO, Communities in Schools National Office

Julissa Santoy
Executive Assistant to Congressman Luis Gutierrez

Eric Schiller
Partner and Lecturer, Dentons and Northwestern University School Of Law

Julie Schrager
Legal Writing Coach, Schiff Hardin LLP

Eric K. Schuller II
Senior Vice-President, Business Manager,
Citi Private Bank

Helene Shapo
Professor, Northwestern University School Of Law

Deb Steiner
Executive V.P., General Counsel, CCO,
RR Donnelly & Sons Co.

Heidi Stevens
Columnist, Chicago Tribune

Tom Tuohy
President, Founder, Dreams for Kids

Kaitlin Verber
Legal Operations Counsel, The Obama Foundation

Kareem Wells
Recording Artist, Songwriter, Producer, Founder of K.W.O.E Group

Jesse White
Secretary of State and State Librarian, State of Illinois

Zee Williams
Chief, Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office Child Support Enforcement Division

Our mission is to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life.