Northwestern UniversityUniversity Hall Northwestern is leading the way in helping its students avoid crippling college debt, a move that has already helped it recruit students from lower-income families and encouraged them to avoid borrowing too much.

Northwestern University’s “no-loan” policy means that colleges will strive to cover each family’s “demonstrated financial need,” which is based on information collected through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The “no-loan” institutions remove student loans from their financial aid packages and only feature grants, scholarships, work-study aid and other components.

By doing this, Northwestern is increasing its financial aid and offering university-funded scholarships. The funds for the additional financial assistance will come from gifts to the University, endowment earnings and other sources.

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Villa ParkVilla Park has recently been named one of the best places to raise a family in the United States, according to Money Magazine.

Located 20 miles west of Chicago and home to more than 22,000 residents, Villa Park is ranked 8th on the list due to its low crime rates, reasonable housing prices and a variety of local amenities.

The magazine ranked cities based on different thresholds for convenience, excellence and affordability. They also focused on safety, economic health, diversity and placed an emphasis on education and child-friendly amenities like libraries and parks.

Incorporated in 1914, Villa Park boomed as a company town for workers at the nearby Ovaltine chocolate factory. Although the Ovaltine factory closed in 1988, the village continued to grow and now boasts incomes at the top of the state median and moderate unemployment rates.

Earlier this year, Money Magazine also ranked Villa Park as one of the best places to live in the country. Their list used eight categories to evaluate 2,400 cities and towns with populations between 10,000 and 100,000 people.

Other Illinois towns that made the top 100 include:

No. 9 – Schaumburg

No. 27 – Wheaton

No. 28 – Villa Park

No. 35 – Des Plaines

fossils programThe Illinois State Museum is hosting a Kid’s Day on Saturday, January 6 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. in Lewistown at the Dickson Mounds Museum (10956 N. Dickson Mounds Rd., Lewistown, Illinois 62542).

This event is a fun opportunity for kids to learn about the variety of rocks, minerals and fossils by viewing different collections from area experts and local clubs. Children will be able to view specimens from the Illinois State Museum collection.

Children must be 5 years and older and be accompanied by an adult. Registration is not required and it is free for kids to learn and participate with experts in this field. Although this program is free, donations to the museum are appreciated.

There will also be other hands-on activities for children to participate in as well as crafts to take home.

Kid’s Day is guaranteed to be a fun experience for the entire family. For more information and directions, click here. You can also get updates and notifications about Kid’s Day from our Facebook event.

Clark Half Bun PaintingTyler Clark is a Chicago artist who creates acrylic paintings and often makes her pieces more multidimensional with textiles, hair and jewelry.

How long have you been an artist? Was there a single moment when you realized this was your passion? 

I have loved art my whole life. College is when I realized it was something I wanted to take more seriously. I studied math and mechanical engineering at Spelman College andClark Bun Painting Georgia Tech. They were difficult programs. Art was my stress reliever. I realized it was therapeutic for me, so I started painting more. When friends came to visit they would fall in love with my art. That’s when I realized I could make a business out of it.

Illinois has been incorporated into your work in the past. What does being able to live and work in Illinois mean to you?   

Clark Piano Man PaintingI love living in Chicago. It is such a beautiful city with so many things to do. One of my favorite things to do is go for a run along the lakefront and see the beautiful skyline, which I love to paint. Illinois is home for me, so I also appreciate my support system here. My family and friends really make it easier for me to push myself as an artist. I am also involved in the art social scene.

What opportunities does Illinois present for local Illinois artists? 

I am a visual performing artist, so I paint live, showcase and sell my art. I do a lot of amazing art events with Paradigm Creative Group. I encourage people to attend one sometime. I also started my own scholarship this year through Saint Mark United Methodist Church. It is very important for me to give back. Clark Obamas Painting

What is your favorite medium to work in?

I use acrylic paint on canvas, and I often include multidimensional elements such as hair, fabric and jewelry.

Where can people view or purchase your work?

People can follow my work on Instagram by clicking here. You can also subscribe to my website and purchase my art at

What artist inspires you and why?Clark Blonde Bun Painting

I am inspired by all artists who have similar styles to me. I love the Chicago artists I paint alongside at different events and artists I follow on social media. I also admire the late Annie Lee who was famous for her work, especially in the black community. Many people tell me that my art reminds them of her work.

Also, Katrina Jackson inspires me. We grew up together in the same neighborhood. She is a painter and tattoo artist who was featured on a VH1 show called ‘Black Ink Crew Chicago.’ She is living out her dreams, and I admire her for that. I recently presented Katrina with a painting of her at an event in Chicago. It was a special moment for me.

Monument to the Great MigrationDesigned by Alison Saar, Monument to the Great Migration celebrates the thousands of African Americans who journeyed to Chicago in search of freedom and opportunity during the early 20th century. The statue is located at 2600 S. Martin Luther King Dr.

The great migration is one of the most profound and celebrated cultural movements in modern history. The statue depicts a traveler waving his hand to symbolically greet his new home, while he carries a worn suitcase in his other hand to represent his journey. The statue is oriented toward the north to symbolize his destination.

In 1927, the State of Illinois erected a memorial to celebrate black veterans of World War I after a lengthy campaign led by the Chicago Defender. Victory Monument, found at 3500 S. King Dr., is a towering granite column with designs by renowned French sculptor, Leonard Crunelle.Victory Monument

On three sides of the pillar, heroic bronze figures symbolizing the tragedy and glory of war are depicted. The fourth panel is inscribed with the names of 137 fallen soldiers of the Eighth Regiment of the Illinois National Guard. A bronze figure stands tall and strong at the top of the column.

Both monuments are located in one of Chicago’s most celebrated Southside neighborhoods—Bronzeville.