UIC’s deep community engagement

Connecting4Communities would like to thank the University of Illinois at Chicago, the HUD Midwest Region Office and Alderman Patrick Daley Thompson and his staff for their recent work on important community building in education, public safety and housing that will be critical to success of Roosevelt Square and our broader community.

In addition to the work at Smyth School that UIC’s Dean of its College of Education, Dr. Alfred Tatum, and his colleagues have been doing, supported by a large grant from the Kellogg Foundation to scale up impressive results from a literacy pilot program that the College obtained at UIC’s Reading Clinic, Dr. Ross Arena, who is Head of UIC’s College of Applied Health Sciences Department of Physical Therapy, and a team of experts in health and nutrition, will be working along with the staff at Smyth School on an extensive program to educate children, and their parents about healthy lifestyles and their impact on academics. Professor Arena will also be recruiting a full-time, tenure track faculty member who will embed at Smyth as part of this project. Professor Arena is the current Chairman of the European Society of Preventive Medicine and an enthusiastic supporter of the work that Smyth Principal Dr. Ron Whitmore and his staff are doing at the school.

According to preliminary analysis of the most recent standardized test scores at Smyth it appears that on-going community efforts by C4C to support Smyth School, which are well-resourced by significant intellectual and financial capital from UIC, are paying dividends because Smyth may progress from a Level 3 school to Level 1. We’ll know more in the early fall. We’d also like to thank UIC Chief of Police, Kevin Booker, and the UIC Police force for their engagement with residents of the Barbara Jean Wright Court Apartments to help improve public safety at this large housing development as well as with students of Smyth School to whom some of the UIC police officers serve as mentors.

C4C worked with the tenant leadership at Barbara Jean Wright to convince HUD’s Midwest Region Office to conduct a Management Occupancy Review of this development. There were some findings which are in the process of being corrected. Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson and his staff worked closely with the ownership of this development to get a very nice new children’s playground installed there recently. With negotiations between Related Midwest and the Chicago Housing Authority proceeding toward restarting development at Roosevelt Square it is important that the influential institutions active in our community work collaboratively on issues of housing, education and public safety so that our community can be a healthy, safe and vibrant one for all who live, work or go to school in it. C4C intends to continue being a catalyst to facilitate such collaboration.