Case Study: Chinatown deserves a Chicago ward of its own

Updated: Nov 2, 2021



The Challenge: Breaking the news cycle, getting Chicago's Chinatown its own ward.


Through more than seven months of working on challenging communications projects side-by-side our client, the Chinese American Service League (CASL), one project that stands out is supporting CASL and its allies battle for equity in representation on the Chicago City Council – a battle that has been fought for over twenty years. During the nearly 200 year history of the Chicago City Council, only one alderman has ever identified as Asian American, even though the AAPI population is the fastest-growing population in the City of Chicago and the nation.

The Results: Our team worked closely with CASL's CEO to develop an action plan to raise the volume on the call for Chinatown to have its own ward. Our team drafted and sent an op-ed on the CASL CEO's behalf to Chicago's major news outlets, landing the op-ed in the Chicago Sun-Times, Chinatown Deserves Its Own Ward. While securing the op-ed was an important step, the follow-up was just as impactful.


The op-ed caught attention and even elicited published responses (Chinatown deserves a Chicago ward of its own) and opened up the conversation. In the following weeks and months, with support from the community and AAPI leaders within and beyond CASL, the call for elected officials to draw a 'Chinatown ward' grew louder. The op-ed placed in the Chicago Sun-Times resulted in a drumbeat of coverage on the topic spreading the conversation across Chicagoland thanks to coverage from notable outlets, such as the Associated Press, ABC Chicago, Crain's Chicago Business, and WBEZ.


Earned Media:


Chicago Sun-Times: Chinatown deserves its own ward


"A historic pattern of Asian American erasure is clear in Chicago, where just one alderman has ever identified as Asian American."


AP: Asian Americans in Chicago want majority-Asian ward in remap


"Asian Americans in Chicago are pushing for a majority Asian ward as the city redraws its political maps, saying it will ensure the fast-growing community has a unified voice at City Hall."


Crain's Chicago Business: Will a remap battle pit Asian community against Daley clan?


"Chicago’s Asian American community has launched an all-out bid to create the city’s first Asian-majority ward in the upcoming city remap."


WBEZ Chicago: The Numbers Are There To Create A Majority Asian Ward In Chicago — But Will Mapmakers Listen?


"With recent 2020 Census numbers showing that Asian Americans are the fastest-growing racial group in Chicago, some advocates and community organizers are saying this is the year to fight for a majority Asian ward in City Council."


ABC 7 Chicago: Asian American leaders pushing for Asian-majority ward as areas are redrawn following census