Community Engagement

Community Engagement

We are a College truly embedded in its community. As part of our mission, we believe the learning that takes place in our classrooms must be put into practice in Chicago communities.  Across the College, faculty, students and alumni are embedded in Chicago schools, neighborhoods, youth organizations, local school councils, advocacy groups, city government and CPS leadership pushing for more just and equitable life opportunities for all Chicagoans, in particular the city's Black and Latino parents and children.

Check out the latest news from our community engagement efforts:

"Love Notes" for Family Literacy

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Alumna Cheryl Watkins' community engagement project encouraged women living at Maria Shelter in Englewood who had experienced trauma to write, edit and publish memory stories--positive or negative--to provide catharsis and aid women in similar situations.  Read the story

Building Literacy Skills at Home

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MEd Literacy, Language and Culture student Elia Olivares is working to ensure Aurora parents from low socio-economic backgrounds are equipped with resources to teach literacy in the home, working with primarily Spanish-speaking parents in the Chicago suburb.  Read the story

Teens Demand Environmental Justice

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Alumnus Daniel Morales-Doyle facilitated a Dean's Community Engagement project providing outlets for Little Village teens to investigate issues of environmental justice in their community, studying pollution from closed power plants and sources of community knowledge of science.  Read the story

Grant-Funded Projects


Amoxtli:  Self Discovery through Literature and Engagement

Jessica Hovland, Maria de la Luz Soria, Eyrn Van Acker, Maria Velzquez and Marie Tejero Hughes
This project engaged Latina adolescent girls in reading by focusing on culturally relevant literature.  Girls ages 8-12 met weekly and discussed novels featuring a Latina as the main character, sharing insights on culture and self-identity.

My Brother’s Keeper:  Students Teaching Students the Way of Nonviolence

Kristin McShane
Students from North Lawndale College Prep’s “Peace Warriors” led lessons at Polaris Charter Academy on resolving conflict without the use of violence.  The lessons foused on exploring community building, different types and levels of violence and practice with “peace circles” to foster restorative skills.

Paginas Com Mi Familia (Pages with my Family)

Elia Olivares
At Todd Early Childhood Center in Aurora, bilingual and English-learning parents and their children engaged in literacy awareness practices with a goal of increasing parents’ impact on children’s literacy learning.  Parents were guided through literacy instruction practices and an interactive literacy activity in their home language.

Latina Mothers Writing Together

Janise Hurtig and P. Zitlali Morales
Weekly writing workshops with Latino immigrant parents, mostly mothers, took place at Whittier School in Pilsen and Volta School in Albany Park.  Parents read and discussed personal narratives and responded to prompts drawn from themes of discussions.  Stories were published in Real Conditions magazine.

SpEducators Network 2015 Community- Based Workshop Series

Cindy Collado
The Speducators Network, a UIC student group, hosted three workshops for families and educators of students with disabilities. Presenters focused on family strategies to navigate the complex special education world and teacher tips to empower students and create culturally responsive curriculum.

Science Knowledge for Environmental Justice

Daniel Morales-Doyle, Amy Levingston, Cheryl Kondreck, David Segura and Maria Varelas
This project supported community-relevant science fair projects conducted by Social Justice High School students, organized a family science night in the Little Village community and captured scientific funds of knowledge of environmental justice activists in Little Village.

Love Notes:  A Family Literacy Project

Cheryl Watkins
Project volunteers worked with women living at Maria Shelter in Englewood to share a story about something of interest to them and create a permanent memory of that story alongside their children.  Over four weeks, these mothers identified, wrote, edited and perfected the memory story they wanted to memorialize.

Building Intergenerational Transformative Communities in East Garfield Park

Danton Floyd and Aja Reynolds
Floyd and Reynolds worked with teachers at Marshall High School to facilitate dialogues with students on pressing issues in their communities. These conversations generated 360 Nation, an intergenerational organization  supporting the positive development of Black youth.

Volunteer Opportunities

After School Tutoring

The Fernwood United Methodist Church seeks after school tutors to work with children who attend the church to strengthen reading and literacy skills.

Organization:  Fernwood United Methodist Church
Location:  Marcus Garvey Hall, Fernwood U.M.C. at 10057 S. Wallace, Chicago, IL
Dates:  Tuesdays and Thursday, every week from 5:30pm-7:30pm
Contact:  Pastor E.T. Parker
Phone:  773-445-2938 (leave a message if no answer)

Adult Volunteer Literacy Program

The UIC Center for Literacy seeks enthusiastic volunteers to support the literacy needs as well as reading and math improvement of Head Start parents.  Volunteer activities include tutoring English or
Spanish-speaking GED students, participating in service projects, assisting with family literacy events, assisting with material preparation for autism & developmental delay workshops.

Organization:  UIC Center for Literacy
Location:  On & off campus
Dates:  On-going opportunities  (two-hour weekly time commitment) & special events
Contact:  Jeneen Thomas
Phone:  312-355-4227