Cheryl Corley

Cheryl Corley is an NPR correspondent who works for the National Desk and is based in Chicago. She travels throughout the Midwest covering issues and events throughout the region's 12 states.

In recent years, Corley has reported on the campaign and re-election of President Barack Obama, on the efforts by Illinois officials to rethink the state's Juvenile Justice System, on youth violence in Chicago, and on political turmoil in the Illinois state government. She's reported on the infamous Trayvon Martin shooting case in Florida and covered tornadoes that have destroyed homes and claimed lives in Harrisburg, Illinois; small towns in Oklahoma; and Joplin, Missouri.

In addition, Corley was among the group of NPR reporters covering the devastation caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita as they tore through the Gulf Coast. She returned to the area, five years later, and joined the reporting team covering the impact of the BP oil spill. Corley also has served as a fill-in host for NPR shows, including Weekend All Things Considered, Tell Me More, and Morning Edition.

Prior to joining NPR, Corley was the news director at Chicago's public radio station, WBEZ, where she supervised an award-winning team of reporters. She also has been a frequent panelist on television news-affairs programs in Chicago.

Corley has received awards for her work from a number of organizations including the National Association of Black Journalists, the Associated Press, the Public Radio News Directors Association, and the Society of Professional Journalists. She earned the Community Media Workshop's Studs Terkel Award for excellence in reporting on Chicago's diverse communities and a Herman Kogan Award for reporting on immigration issues.

A Chicago native, Corley graduated cum laude from Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, and is now a Bradley University trustee. While in Peoria, Corley worked as a reporter and news director for public radio station WCBU and as a television director for the NBC affiliate, WEEK-TV. She is a past President of the Association for Women Journalists in Chicago.

She is also the co-creator of the Cindy Bandle Young Critics Program. The critics/journalism training program for female high school juniors is a collaboration between AWJ-Chicago and the Goodman Theatre. Corley has also served as a board member of Community Television Network, an organization that trains Chicago youth in video and multi-media production.

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In the weeks after 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo., protesters gathered daily at the site of a burned-out convenience store.

About a block away, the empty lot of a boarded-up restaurant became the campsite for a group of young activists called the Lost Voices. During the protests, the group "invited all the people who can't come out every day and wanted to share the experience with us," says Lenard Smith.

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When it comes to studying sexual violence, college surveys often don't include students at historically black colleges and universities, or HBCUs. But one major study found sexual assaults are lower on those campuses than others.

Some question those numbers and whether HBCUs have the resolve to openly address the issue of campus rape.

Of the 100 HBCUs in the country, Morgan State University in Baltimore ranks in the top 15 for academics.

In the suburbs of Chicago, a stark reminder of the toll of heroin and prescription-pill addiction is making the rounds as a lawn exhibit. One hundred fake tombstones and banners are set up at a new location every week as a precursor to International Overdose Awareness Day.

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New information was released Friday about the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Mo. The police chief finally released the name of the officer who shot Michael Brown and an incident report listing Brown as a suspect in a recent convenience store robbery. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is promising a full investigation.

A fifth night of violence erupted in a St. Louis suburb, as Ferguson police again clashed with protesters. Community frustration has only escalated since the police shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager on Saturday. Ferguson's police chief called for calm, while reiterating that he will not release the name of the officer who shot Brown. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon also spoke out for more peaceful relations between police and protesters.

There was no pomp and circumstance, no procession with classmates, but on Friday a school district in Illinois finally handed Alva Early his high school diploma — more than five decades after he attended Galesburg High School.

In 1959, Galesburg banned Earley from graduating and denied him a diploma after he and other African-Americans had a picnic in a park that was unofficially off-limits to blacks.

Thousands of unaccompanied children from Central America have been crossing the Southern border of the U.S. over the past few months.

That's led to protests and debates — not only in the Southwest but across the country, as children have been given shelter in cities and towns that are sometimes quite far from the border.

Although the governor of Iowa says that unaccompanied minors from Central America should not find shelter in his state, more than 100 are already there. But the mayor of Des Moines, the state's largest city, and many religious leaders are at odds with the governor. They say Iowa should be welcoming and help children in need.

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In Chicago, there were many shootings over the July 4 weekend. Police say nine Chicago residents were killed; more than 50 were injured. At least eight people who were shot were shot by police. NPR's Cheryl Corley reports.

CHERYL CORLEY, BYLINE: Chicago police superintendent Garry McCarthy says his department had a plan over the July 4 holiday that included putting hundreds of more officers on the city streets when and where they were needed.

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There are 13 presidential Libraries in the United States run by the National Archives, and when President Obama leaves office, the construction of the 14th library won't be far behind.

A nonprofit foundation created to fund and build the Obama presidential library is already beginning to mull proposals from contenders who'd like to be home to the facility.

This story is part of All Things Considered's "Men in America" series.

In America, nearly 40 percent of black boys live in poverty, and barely half will graduate from high school.

From the shoreline at North Avenue Beach in Chicago, the blue water of Lake Michigan stretches as far as the eye can see. But beneath that pristine image, there's a barely visible threat, says Jennifer Caddick of the Alliance for the Great Lakes: microbeads.

These tiny bits of plastic, small scrubbing components used in hundreds of personal care products like skin exfoliants and soap, can slip through most water treatment systems when they wash down the drain.

As bicycling goes, America is far behind Copenhagen, the promised land where roads look like bicycle highways as people pedal to work. But commuting by bike in the U.S. is catching on — though geographic, income and gender disparities persist.

In Chicago, busy Sheridan Road is the start of the Lakefront bike trail on its north side. That's where you can find plenty of bicyclists commuting to work early in the morning.

The president recently signed an executive order raising the minimum hourly wage to $10.10 for workers employed by federal contractors — including those with disabilities.

That's a victory for disabled workers who can make just pennies per hour at so-called sheltered workplaces.

While some call sheltered workshops a godsend, others say they are examples of good intentions gone wrong.

It's no question the weather's been brutal for some communities, including Washington, Ill., a town of 15,000 in the central part of the state. When a tornado ripped through the area last November three people died and more than a thousand homes were damaged.

All throughout the country, supporters of the Affordable Care Act have worked to reach the uninsured, holding health fairs and putting ads on TV and radio.

The push continues to get as many enrolled as possible, especially Latinos — the most uninsured group in the country.

During the morning rush at Chicago's Union Station, commuter trains pull in, the doors open and a crush of people, newspapers and coffee cups in hand, pour off like a flood.

Financial analyst Nader Kouklan says he makes the trip from the suburbs to Chicago's downtown every day.

"It's easier and just a faster way to get to work, rather than having to deal with the traffic of the morning commute," Kouklan says.

Law student Amalia Romano rides Chicago's Metra line, too.

"I take it because I don't want to pay $16 to park every day," Romano explains.

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It's testing time in Illinois today. Hundreds of thousands of students began taking state tests in math and science but some students, parents, even teachers are refusing. At dozens of schools in Chicago, they're staging a boycott, saying the tests don't matter. As NPR's Cheryl Corley reports, it's part of a growing national debate over measuring student performance.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Boycott the ISAT. Let things be. Boycott the ISAT.

Dan Ware has been driving a taxicab in Chicago for more than a decade, but he still doesn't have what many jobs offer: health insurance.

"I'm without health coverage," he says.

And that's not unusual, says Chicago Public Health Commissioner Bechara Choucair. "What we know in Chicago is that around 70 percent of taxi drivers are uninsured," Choucair says.

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School districts typically build emergency days into their calendars in case of bad weather. But this winter's relentless snow and bitter cold have some schools reeling. Now, administrators are scrambling to find creative ways to make up for lost time, even as they prepare for more severe weather. NPR's Cheryl Corley has that story.

CHERYL CORLEY, BYLINE: What's the most crucial factor when it comes to schools these days? Not tests or transportation or even grades. It's likely this...

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Would you notice an unexpected charge of $10 or less on your credit card statement? Lots of consumers don't — and scammers count on that, says Steve Barnas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau in northern Illinois.

But Barnas says the Better Business Bureau is now hearing from consumers across the country about $9.84 credit charges for what look to be very innocuous purchases. But while they may seem legitimate, many are not.

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At the start of this new year, a number of cities in the United States, including its five largest, have a common story to tell about crime. In 2013, they all saw violent crime rates drop significantly. Some also saw murder rates drop to historic lows. From Chicago, NPR's Cheryl Corley reports.

In 2013, Chicago newspapers and television stations kept a daily deadly count, listing those slain each day, most by gun violence. One of the most noted occurred early in the year when Hadiya Pendleton, 15, was shot and killed about a week after performing at inauguration events in Washington, D.C., with her high school band.

For decades, Charlie Trotter's name was synonymous with cutting-edge cuisine. His Chicago restaurant was regarded as one of the finest in the world — a stellar accomplishment for the self-taught chef, who died Tuesday at age 54.

As recently as 25 years ago, there were more than 100 self-described feminist bookstores in the U.S. — stores focusing on books written by and for women. Like most independent bookstores, though, their numbers have dropped dramatically over the years.

Chicago's Women and Children First is among the few feminist stores still standing, and one of the largest. The store opened 34 years ago in 1979. Now, after a long, successful run, the store's owners say they're ready to retire — and they're looking for a buyer to continue the store's mission.

In Illinois, you can face a prison term of one to three years if you use a weapon unlawfully. But you might serve only half that time, or you could get probation or even boot camp.

Chicago alone saw more than 500 murders last year, most by gunfire. Mayor Rahm Emanuel says the current law is not what's needed to fight gun violence in the city.

"In fact, I would like to ... note that the same minimum penalty we have for a gun law is what we have for shoplifting," Emanuel has said.

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

For millions of uninsured people, Tuesday is a big day. That's when they can start signing up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. But for people who speak little or no English, it may be a difficult process. Illinois, which has one of the country's largest immigrant populations, is working to make sure that language is not a barrier to enroll in. NPR's Cheryl Corley reports.

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