From the University of Chicago Community Outreach Conference
December 17, 2009

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(A very different community update forum was held in April 2009--find this in the University Outreach page, and compare the two there.)

(Details from the table discussions on Woodlawn Promise Zone and education in general - look for December 17 in the Promise Programs page.)

From the U C Community Outreach Conference, December 17, 2009


By Gary Ossewaarde. The program was held at the School of Social Services Administration.

Ann Marie Lipinski, UC Vice President for Civic Engagement, gave the plenary address
New developments and initiatives report:

Woodlawn Promise Zone. It’s purpose is to create a comprehensive conveyor belt of resources for kids from womb to college. The Medical Center is involved. Hoped is that the experience, including from the charter schools, can be scaled up and thence create a model for all neighborhoods. Woodlawn High and the Promise Zone are seeking tutors and holding workshops for them.
The Crime Lab of SSA has teamed up with nonprofits to study and experiment in what works to stem youth violence and see whether self-regulation can be taught. The motto is “wielding partnerships instead of influence.”
Harper Court. Responders have exciting ideas. Evaluation of developers is serious—need real assurance they can complete the project.
South East Chicago Commission: Its focus will now be economic development in the suite of neighborhoods that surrounds the University. It has a new board, interviewing continues for an executive director.
Viaduct artwork was touted.
Washington Park/Garfield Blvd. Economic development study and a corridor plan are being completed; the goal is sustainable development.
Hyde Park Alliance for Arts and Culture and the Hyde Park Jazz Festival are rousing successes, received startup from the University.
Logan Center for Creative and Performing Arts
Career Pathways, an initiative with CARA and the City’s Workforce Development has placed 253 in jobs and is now helping those exiting from jobs.
Lab School expansion. This will involve a new early learning center for through 2nd grade, renovation of existing structures, and a new school drop off on 58th. Focus groups have already been consulted; public process starts in the first quarter.
New website for Civic Engagement- with lots of topics and links: uchicago.edu/engage. Feedback is wanted.
New staff includes Danetta? McGee? McKeon? In the College Prep program and Arnold Randall in planning and construction.
Lipinski added that although we lost the Olympics, the year 2016 is still coming, and we must not let die the opportunities opened by the forced new thinking, teamwork, and planning.

Breakout discussions were held at about 14 tables. Here are highlights of reports from tables.

Jay Ammerman reported to the HPKCC January 7 board meeting that it seemed in general the university was setting forth a "this is what we're doing" but that the breakout dissuasions were very productive. He was at the Neighborhood Redevelopment and Partnerships table, where people talked from various homeowners and neighborhood associations, an architect, at least one developer, and UC staff including Susan Campbell and Arnold Randall. a geographic tour was given (by Ms. Lipinski?) including Harper Court (complimenting HPKCC and others who gave extensive organized input), Mobil station (bought by the University), Nichols Park (want to make changes to walks and lighting), Washington Park neighborhood (bought because vacant and available and not just for development but to create a 50 year hedge for expansion needs). Market research (they indicated that such have a short shelf life). On South East Chicago Commission, safety etc. monitoring went to police, will now concentrate on economic and retail development. Lenora Austin of the Chamber said that Nadia Quarles filled her table in well on business diversity and how one gets contracts or jobs with the University. Noted also was that there are people at the University who think carefully about the intercept between built and social environment.


Sustainability at U of C. Collaborations are being set up in communities, sharing what is learned there and at the University. Discovered were opportunities for synergies in recycling and reduction, engaging kids, placing upgrade of older homes on the radar, savvy cost accounting.

Promise Zones for schools, safety, and communities, Charles Payne/Bishop Brazier table. (This writer has prepared a separate report on this table’s discussion.) The spokesperson noted opportunities for residents and parents to become directly involved through tutoring, patrols and otherwise in the schools and for program providers and corporations to partner.

The Harold Pollack Promises table reported: The challenge is to grow a person with well-rounded assets and communities with the same. There are many family members including fathers who are or have been incarcerated-- how are these reconnected and meantime students given replacement for what's missing while dad is away? How are families helped in ways besides money? Lots are trying-- how can organizations be connected more deeply into the community? How can U of c students be enticed to be more engaged in youth safety and development? How can more of the faith-groups be gotten "off their butts" and collaborating? It's important to bring youth into the planning-- of their programs and the community, making them "part of it."

Crime and Youth table. Enabling kids to grow up and have fulfilled lives. UC is trying to find what works and end the disconnects in schools and communities—the revolving door and uneven nature of programs that tend to help just a few, teachers not being “brought in” the process, and that the worst schools seems too disorganized to absorb or solve problems. The UC groups are trying to develop an “evaluation toolkit for programs can grow their own program. Matching is real need. Noted was the adult unemployment problem.

Economic Development. The spokesperson said the challenge is how to grow the communities, especially where there is lots of vacant land—who will come, and how do you get them to come? The next question is who is development FOR, and will it have a sustainable impact. Suggested were encouraging and providing ways for residents to use and buy in their community, use the community’s history and open houses, and ball fields to build ties. Hoped was that SECC would bring people together.

Doing business with the UC and business diversity. The Office of Bus. Diversity is helping people navigate a decentralized university and get to the right parties. There is now connection with the chambers of commerce.

Arts partnerships. The Hyde Park Alliance and other groups are getting the word out about access to neighborhoods (and that parking and transportation can be found) and the venues and getting the word about what’s available. Synergies and opportunities are increasing with more of an overall cultural destination. They are working with the Office of Tourism to grow audience development. A major goal is to provide many experiences in venues that have been or were thought of as doing just one thing. Another is to encourage students and residents to explore the city also.
Logan Center.

Entrepreneurship. Small bus and startups are where the ideas and dynamism are, but also experience. Secrets to success include willingness to reinvent within continuity, partnerships a and connections, a succession plan, staying to fight for the long haul, and creating a niche.

The role of research in health outcomes. The spokesperson talked of consumers and providers being unaware of new findings. Praised were the UC mobile vehicles. Matching and doing, bridging are the way. Small health providers should be given help in grant-writing. The UC has a SARS program in South Shore. And a MAP project—finding out what really is available, where , on the whole South Side.

Urban Health Collaborative and access to healthcare, having good medical “homes”. Why don’t people seek an ongoing health provider “home”? Bad experiences, poor understanding of medicine/health/wellness, many of the referral “homes” have a “quality gap”--aren’t very good or lack resources (the word used was “ghetto clinic.” How can the partners be “brought up”? Suggested was looking at Aldi’s model—it was thought to be for very poor people, but it changed and became attractive, and everyone shops there now. Another way for all to focus on the patient experience—from the first call or pulling into the parking lot. Building capacity matters. And patients have to be gotten there- motivationally and physically—can faith institutions, groceries and pharmacies help?

Science partnerships. Argonne is underused but holds potential for educating. The climate research model is just one of what they are doing well, including tying findings to economics.

Safety. (Didn’t catch anything said.)

Campus Planning. Goal is to better unite the campus and to tie the campus better to the community through the interfaces. The Facilities Services website has not of good maps and graphics. Streetscape and the botanic garden initiative have transformed the campus. The structure north of Robie House is being looked at for creating a mixed use interface. The Hospitals area needs to become a pedestrian-friendly and vibrant area. 58th and Ellis is another focus.