Roosevelt Square and Smyth Elementary School/UIC update

Recently, a small contingent of people from our community, including a representative from Roosevelt Square developer, Related Midwest, and Smyth Principal Dr. Ron Whitmore met with senior leadership of the HUD Midwest Region office and CHA CEO Eugene Jones, Jr. to discuss obtaining necessary investments to move forward with development now that the new Roosevelt Square master plan is complete. One option we agreed to pursue is submitting a proposal for a HUD Choice Neighborhood implementation grant. The awards are highly competitive and scarce, but they’re $30 million of federal money that can, and must, be leveraged in a variety of ways for success of mixed-income communities.

Critical to submitting a competitive proposal will be the engagement of our community’s anchor institutions in the effort. HUD has a national Anchor Institutions Task Force and UIC is a member. Unfortunately, none of the other large institutions in our community are members, but that won’t limit their possible participation.

The University of Illinois recruited dynamic, capable leadership in President Timothy Killeen, Ph.D. and UIC Chancellor Michael Amiridis, Ph.D. Despite the significant, systemic fiscal challenges that all public institutions in our state face, including the UI, in some important ways things have never been more encouraging for this institution which is so important to our state. Both Killeen and Amiridis are highly accomplished scientists and their leadership styles are remarkably fresh, collegial and engaging, but with the necessary dispassion and open-mindedness that all good scientists bring to their work, particularly when gathering data.

Both Killeen and Amiridis have hosted a number of Town Hall meetings on campus to hear from the UIC community. The meetings have been well attended and the input from faculty, staff and community at UIC has been very well thought out, sophisticated and communicated all very civilly, which stands in stark contrast to today’s political environment, and UIC has been engaging in exceptional and unprecedented ways in our community.

Please watch the short video about UIC’s College of Education’s engagement at Smyth School supported by a grant of nearly $1 million from the Kellogg Foundation. There will likely be some additional significant engagement at Smyth from another UIC college in the very near future and our community will work with UIC to identify avenues for seeking other meaningful investments in our community’s Roosevelt Square and public education efforts in addition to the HUD Choice Neighborhoods’ option.