We know how crucial it is to understand how governments work and how policies and the people who create them work for or against us. But we also know a lot of the information we need as citizens to hold our governments accountable isn’t always accessible, especially to our Black and Brown community members.

That’s why the Better Government Association created a centralized and more user-friendly space for “What the Gov?” to engage with people and help amplify diverse voices affected by the powers of influence at the state and local levels.

We’re excited to share with you what’s changed and what you can look forward to in this latest iteration. We also want you to help us make our information services and resources accessible to everyone so it supports our mission of making government more transparent, accountable and efficient. You can do that by engaging with us through our “What the Gov?” platform.

In 2018, we created “What the Gov?,” a community engagement series for the newsroom to collect and read questions from you about the government and local elections.

Since its inception, we’ve answered questions on many topics, from what political candidates legally use their campaign funds for and how to vote in a Chicago election to answering your questions after we published a multipart investigation on the city’s various projects at O’Hare International Airport. Even when the pandemic hit, we continued to listen and help, digging out answers when you expressed your questions and concerns about the COVID-19 outbreak and the impact of policies around the pandemic.

“What the Gov?” has grown into an essential space that allows us to directly connect with you, our audience. We provided the best answers we could through our known journalistic rigor and fact-finding.

In the last several months, we’ve spoken with community members, organizations and industry experts to continue helping us get closer to the people behind the stories we tell. They’ve also helped us understand how we can improve our ties with Chicago and all Illinois communities, especially those in marginalized areas who are disproportionately affected by bad governance.

As we ramp up on our civic reporting and community programming — on our own or with other organizations — we hope you’ll reach out to us and let us know what you think about the new “What the Gov?” space. Equally as important, let us know what else you’d like to see, whether it’s a question you’d like us to investigate, a resource or training you want us to offer, or anything else the BGA can do to be a source of government accountability, transparency and efficiency for you.

What do you want to know or share about Chicago or Illinois politics and government?
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What you can find on the new What the Gov? homepage

Your questions and stories will help drive the information, resources and programming provided at the Better Government Association. And you can find it all on our new “What the Gov?” homepage.

The civic lens allows us to prioritize and engage community needs and how community members across Illinois are affected by politics and government, locally, statewide and nationally.

In this latest version, “What the Gov?” answers questions you pose through our new “Community Ask” series.

“What the Gov?” continues to connect the people — that’s you — directly to the BGA through the form. We’re asking you to share your questions and the experiences you’ve had with government officials or agencies. These submissions give us insight into the issues that matter to you and affect us all.

We also aim to provide more original civic reporting and resources based on local and state political and governmental trends and conversations. As always, we’ll seek transparency and accountability from the players and their policies.

You can also find the latest community programming we’ve hosted, our Weekend Watch spots on ABC-7 Chicago and other ways to connect or support our nonprofit watchdog organization.

We want to hear from you

What do you want to know or share about Chicago or Illinois politics and government?

What we report on at the BGA wouldn’t be possible without people like you. There are different ways you can help inform how we can better serve you through the “What the Gov?

Are you interested in participating in BGA’s Watchdog Training, such as a Freedom of Information Act learning series or how to access additional civic tools? Let us know what you’d want to learn (or who you’d want us to partner with or feature in an event) as we plan for future community programming — virtual for now, and hopefully soon, hybrid or in-person programming.

Our goal is to answer your questions, identify resources and provide a growing platform for community engagement to amplify diverse voices. Help us do that by submitting your questions and stories below. We read every submission.

If you’re a community leader, organization or media outlet interested in collaborating with the Better Government Association, please reach out to Olivia Obineme, manager of partnerships and local content, via email at oobineme@bettergov.org.