Recently in Service Category

A Time to Celebrate the Leaders Among Us

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Nominate exemplary community partners, faculty, staff, and houses

Relationships are the lifeblood and foundation of the work we do at the University Community Service Center (UCSC).  Through the years, we have seen how outstanding partnerships can make lasting, significant change at  the University of Chicago and in Chicago communities.

Partners come from many walks and play many different roles.  They are university students and employees.  They are community leaders working with kids and the elderly, civic institutions working hand-in-hand with the University and community activists challenging the University to think about how it can be a strong, supportive neighbor.

Engaged faculty challenge, energize, and support students to learn about and work in Chicago neighborhoods.  Staff take on vital roles grounding University initiatives and student efforts in communities.  Students, whether as individuals or part of groups like House communities, roll up their sleeves and put on their thinking caps in service to our neighbors - in nearby areas Woodlawn, Kenwood, and Hyde Park, but also neighborhoods as far flung as Rogers Park or Roseland.

Community partners - individuals working on their own or with organizations - welcome our students, share their knowledge, wisdom, and expertise, and create opportunities for our students to make meaningful contributions throughout the city of Chicago and beyond.

As we move into the final quarter of the academic year, it is important that we reflect on and recognize the strength of these partnerships and the individuals, groups, and organizations which sustain them.  UCSC continues its rich tradition of honoring students, community partners, faculty, and staff at the 15th Annual Volunteer Recognition Reception this May. 

Please take a few moments to recognize the energy, innovation, and good will of those whom you know have demonstrated extraordinary commitment to public service.

Nominations for the awards below are due by midnight on Sunday, April 15, 2012.

  • Faculty Service Award - This award recognizes the extraordinary commitment of faculty in either direct service or in the support of students engaged in civic-minded scholarship. Selection criteria include strong recommendations from students across campus.
  • Staff Service Award - This award recognizes the extraordinary commitment of professional staff in either direct service or in the support of students engaged in civic minded scholarship. Selection criteria include strong recommendations from students across campus.
  • Community Partner Award - Community partners provide interesting volunteer opportunities, challenging internships and a forum for the community and university to engage. This award recognizes superior commitment connecting the university and the broader Chicago community.
  • Edward R. Turkington House Service Award - The Edward R. Turkington House Service Award is given annually to a House within the University of Chicago Undergraduate House System that has demonstrated a deep, ongoing commitment to service in surrounding communities and the broader Chicago Metro area.

Students Help Save Mothers in India

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By Lynda Lopez. News and Public Affairs Intern

In 2010, President Barack Obama signed his long debated health care bill into law, but it still remains an issue of controversy among concerned Americans.

While the United States deals with its own share of health care issues, there is another world of health concerns on the other side of the world and some inquisitive University of Chicago students in a new student group have taken notice.

The Global Affairs Leadership Society (GALS) became a Registered Student Organization (RSO) in the fifth week of the first quarter. The basic premise behind the group is to provide a place where students can discuss issues of conflict within women's rights in the Western and in the developing world. Not only do they seek to talk about these important issues, they also want to take an active role in combatting them.

"So many people spend their time talking about important issues, but spend no time doing anything about it," says Molly Cunningham, a GALS board member and 2nd year in the College, "GALS is 'doing' rather than just talking."

One of the first issues the group has sets its eyes on is the high maternal mortality rate in India. According to, over 160 women in India die each day due to problems from pregnancy and complications in childbirth, over 50 times higher than the rate in the United States. Statistics and concerns such as these spurred the members of GALS to become involved with Save A Mother, which is a local organization that is working to reduce the maternal mortality rate in India by educating villagers regarding better ways to maintain good health while in pregnancy. Eventually, these educated villagers become health activists in each of their villages.

Hoping to learn more about this organization, GALS held a special event at the Center for Gender Studies on January 10th. Dr. Shiban Ganju, founder and chief volunteer of Save A Mother, visited the university in order to talk further about the organization's work and to inspire the group to further the organization's cause.

Cunningham says that his visit definitely motivated the group. "After hearing him speak, we felt that we could truly change the world," she says.

Throughout the upcoming quarter, GALS is going to work on strengthening its relationship with Save A Mother and continue furthering the organization's cause.

Besides their work with Save A Mother, GALS has also been thinking of unique ways in which to spread the word about their unique RSO. Since their inception as a RSO, they have carried out a series of social experiments intended to gain insight into the issue of women's rights. One of the first and most interesting social experiments was implemented at the end of last quarter. Each of the members of GALS changed their Facebook status to "people like people who like women's rights."

"Our generation is constantly checking their emails, phones, and Facebook, so we knew we should take advantage of this connectivity," says Cunningham. "This social experiment gave us further insight into the thoughts of men regarding women's rights."

Cunningham says that she received many playful, silly comments on her status that day, which, she says, indicates the unclear role that women's rights tends to have in society. What does it truly mean to have rights as a woman? GALS plans to continue its social media experiment throughout the quarter in order to further explore this question and many more.

Despite all of the different endeavors that GALS is working towards, including a conference on women's rights, all of these activities have an underlying theme: Education.

"Ignorance kills even the best of ideas," says Cunningham. "We are hoping to raise awareness about important issues and even if the students we talk to don't get involved, it is still a better world because we opened their eyes a little more."

UCSC accepts story submissions from contributing writers that take a timely national issue and examine it in the local perspective. To join the pool, or learn more, visit

By Lynda Lopez, News and Public Affairs Intern for UCSC

The winter quarter has officially gotten underway, which means another 10 weeks of dedication, hard work, and discovery in everyone's academic lives. Even though the quarter represents the return to academic normality, it does not have to mean a return to the same day to day routines of campus life.

Before planning out your entire winter schedule for involvement on campus, make sure to ask yourself some important questions. Am I getting to know the city of Chicago? Am I doing something that I feel passionate about? Are the groups on campus fulfilling all my needs/expectations? If you answered "no" to any of these questions, then it may be time for you to branch out into the city as a whole and get involved with an organization not necessarily on campus.

It can often be difficult to leave the UChicago campus because of homework and transportation expenses, but getting involved in an organization off campus may prove to be a much needed booster to your academic confidence. Reaching out to new horizons allows you to truly gauge your ability as a person and a student. Besides, getting involved does not mean that you are becoming an employee at this specific organization. It simply means that you may start to volunteer once or twice a week on a weekday or weekend, depending on your availability.

The city of Chicago is a vast place with endless resources for college students. From environmental activism to anti-violence prevention, there are a myriad of opportunities for students to get involved.

In order to facilitate your search around the city of Chicago, the UCSC has compiled an easy reference list of some great non-profits around the city. There are different non-profits listed under each side of the city with a brief description of what each does, which can also be found on each of their websites.


Beyondmedia Education
Beyondmedia Education is an organization that collaborates with under-served and under-represented women, youth and communities to tell their stories, connect their stories to the world as a whole, and organize for social justice through the creation and distribution of media arts.

Center on Halsted

The Center on Halsted serves as a place where the LGBT community can find a safe and nurturing environment. It provides community resources and other social services for youth and adults.


Little Village Environmental Justice Organization
The Little Village Environmental Justice Organization is a place where students and other activists come together and discuss issues pertaining to the condition of the environment in the city, specifically the Little Village community. The organization has a reputation of being at the forefront of the environmental movement and is well-respected across the city.

Latinos Progresandos
Latinos Progresando was founded in 1998 to address the lack of high-quality, accessible community resources in Little Village. The organization is uniquely attuned to the specific needs of the communities Little Village and Pilsen. Some services offered include immigration services and theater programs for young men and women.


Erie Neighborhood House
Erie Neighborhood House is committed to empowering Latinos and diverse low-income communities to reach their fullest potential with a range of educational programs for all ages. Their mission is to promote and just society by providing low income families with the tools for a better future.

Homan Square Community Center
The Homan Square Community Center is for every resident of North Lawndale and Chicago's West Side. The programs and services offered are designed to meet the needs and wishes of the community.


Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) is dedicated to promoting the rights of immigrants and refugees to equal participation in the life of our society. It also aims to raise awareness about immigrant issues to the general public in order to encourage further participation in the important immigration movement.

Dreams for Kids
Dreams for Kids is a volunteer based, registered non-profit children's charity that breaks down social barriers and end the isolation of at-risk youth. Dreams for Kids is empowering youth who live in poverty and those with disabilities, by uniting them with their peers, recognizing their abilities, and allowing their voices to be heard. The most isolated young people from every community are reminded they have something to give, and they are the solution- not the problem.

The Chicago Project HEALTH site is pleased to announce our name change to Health Leads.

Health Leads is still a national organization (and University of Chicago RSO), and we remain committed as ever to alleviating the factors of poor health in our communities. Over 90 UChicago student volunteers work with patients at 4 area health centers across the South Side to help them obtain food, safe housing, employment, child care, and more. Last year over 5,000 families were aided by Health Leads volunteers. It's a great opportunity for anyone who is interested in medicine, public policy, public health, or community involvement. We'd love to have you join our team!

If you're interested in applying, please visit our website at to view and complete the Chicago application (Go to "Get Involved-->Volunteer"). The applications are due Thursday, January 13 at 10pm.

We are also hosting 3 information sessions during first and second weeks to give an overview of our program, go over details of the application process, and share volunteer stories of time spent with Project HEALTH.

Info Session Dates:

Thursday, Jan 6 @ 6:00 pm, Harper 145
Monday, Jan 10 @ 7:00pm, Harper 141
Tuesday, Jan 11 @ 6:30pm, Harper 135

As 9th week approaches, it's time to take stock of a quarter filled with service.

The University Community Service Center wants you to send us what SERVICE looks like to YOU in the form of a photo. Include a short description of your image and we will include it in next week's issue as part of a photo essay about service! Send all submissions to with the subject line "Image of Service."

UCSC accepts story submissions from contributing writers that take a timely national issue and examine it in the local perspective. To join the pool, or learn more, visit

Rallying for a Cleaner Environment

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by Lynda Lopez, News and Public Affairs Intern, published in the University Community Service Center Newsletter

In the past few years, college campuses across America have made it a priority to protect the environment by implementing "greener" programs on campus. One place where students are forcing green changes is the dining hall. According to the Sustainable Endowments Institute's 2007 report card, which looks at environmental initiatives at the 200 colleges and universities with largest endowments assets in the U.S. and Canada, 70 percent of these schools now devote at least a portion of food budgets to buying from local farms and/or producers.

Another area where college campuses are leading the way is in water conservation. According to Niles Barnes of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), most of the 3,800 institutions of higher education in the U.S. have engaged in some sort of water-saving program.

The University of Chicago is one of the colleges moving forward with green innovation. In 2008, the Office of Sustainability was opened on campus in order to encourage greener programs on campus. One of the first major initiatives by of the newly formed office was the Recycles Program. The free campus bike share program launched in the fall of 2009 and grew to nearly 1,000 users within its first years. Students, faculty, and staff have found it an efficient and easy way to navigate the campus. In May 2010, the University of Chicago held its first e-wasting recycling event which netted 23,000 pounds of materials for recycling. Hundreds of community members and University staff, faculty, and students dropped of their unwanted items for recycling at different drop off sites on campus.

In addition to the amount of work the university itself has been putting into making the campus a "greener" place, student activists have been looking to improve the environment in the city as a whole. The Southside Solidarity Network and Students for a Just and Stable Future (part of the Green Campus Initiative) are some of the UChicago student groups making clean air in the city a main priority.

This year, the groups are rallying in support of the Chicago Clean Power Ordinance, a piece of legislation that would help clean up or shut down two coal power plants in Chicago. According to the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, the coal power plants cause 41 premature deaths per year, 2,800 asthma attacks, and close to 600 emergency room visits (related to asthma).

On October 10, 2010, 20 UChicago students attended the Chicago Clean Power Coalition Rally in Pilsen. Caroline Wooten, a third year in the College and member of the Southside Solidarity Network, thinks that the event was a huge stepping stone to reaching the group's goals. "While the rally was powerful in and of itself, individuals were also given the opportunity to contact city government directly," she said. "Participants signed a petition, made calls to their aldermen, sent postcards to Mayor Daley, and contributed to a public art project."

The rally had about 100 people attend, so UChicago constituted a fifth of the participants. "This turnout definitely showed that students are an important part of the climate movement, and we need to continue to strengthen this movement through participation and leadership," said Wooten.
In addition to the rally in October, Students for a Just and Stable Future teamed up with Students for a Democratic Society on November 1st for a Day of the Dead Rally in Pilsen. This rally pushed for the Chicago Clean Power Ordinance and was organized by local environmental groups in Little Village and Pilsen.

Wooten says that she hopes to continue to phone bank and canvas for the Chicago Clean Power Ordinance, along with other UChicago students. She feels optimistic that the efforts can make a difference. "I think a lot of students care about the environment, and are specifically concerned about climate change."

Friday, November 19th

When: Sign-ups at 8, performances at 8:30
Where: Woodlawn Collaborative 6400 S. Kimbark (inside 1st Presbyterian Church)
What: Come join us in an effort to bring students and community members together for a fun night of art and activism! You got something to say? (or sing, play, mime, perform) Then come to the Woodlawn Collaborative's first open mic night of the year. --Event organizer Divya Sundar
The Woodlawn Collaborative is a shared space for Woodlawn residents and University of Chicago students to collaborate on, and explore the connections between, art projects, education initiatives, and progressive political activism. CONTACT Catherine Greim at or (408) 406-1280

Saturday, November 20th, 2010.
Register for the Autumn Day of Service
What: Interested in community service on the South Side?
The Autumn Day of Service is an opportunity for University of Chicago students,
staff and faculty to participate in one-day volunteer projects within the community
and will be held on Saturday, November 20th, 2010.
Where: We will gather at the Reynolds Club
When: at 9:00 am, do service at various sites from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm and return to
campus by 2:00 pm. Past projects have included preparing and serving food
in soup kitchens, gardening, cleaning, office work, and more.

To register, please visit and we will confirm your
registration via email. Groups that would like to register will need to register
each group member individually.

Feel free to e-mail Kaitlyn at regarding any
questions or concerns about the UCSC Days of Service you may have.

To learn more about service opportunities, visit:

Chicago Studies weekly event highlights

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Thursday, Nov. 4

The 2010-11 Schweitzer Fellows Presents: Health Disparities and Solutions: Tackling the Complex Health Issues of Marginalized Communities
Time: 6:30 - 8:30pm
Location: UIC College of Medicine Research Building - Moss Auditorium (1st Floor)
According to the event organizers, the featured speakers are:
"-Dr. Gregory Scott, Sociology Professor, Director of the Social Science Research Center at DePaul University and documentary filmmaker; Dr. Scott's work focuses on harm reduction, clean needle exchanges, crime and delinquency, community studies, and street gangs.
-Linda Wesp, Family Nurse Practitioner and Director of Adolescent Health at the Howard Brown Health Center, one of the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) healthcare organizations. Wesp specializes in providing care to lesbian, gay and bisexual teens, transgendered teens, and individuals with HIV.
"Speakers will share stories of their work, including identified health disparities in specific marginalized populations; programs/approaches to combat disparities; the evaluation of their progress; their successes and failures; and how others might apply to their work in the effort to improve health issues in Chicago and beyond."
**Light Refreshments Will Be Served
RSVP encouraged: email or call 312.372.4292 ext. 24

Saturday, November 6th
Illinois Student Environmental Coalition Fall Conference
Key note speaker: State Senator Heather Steans
To register visit
Deadline to register is November 3rd.
Time: 10:00am-4:00pm
Location: 33. East Congress, Columbia College

Monday, November 8th
Summer Links Internship Program Info Session

Time: 6:30pm-7:30pm
Location: Harper Memorial Library Room 130
Summer Links, a program of the University Community Service Center, offers intensive 10-week internships to 30 returning College and graduate students committed to public service, community building, and social change. Interns receive a $4 000 stipend and the option of subsidized on-campus housing, and participate in weekly day-long and evening trainings about Chicago and social justice issues. Returning college, graduate, and professional school students are welcome to apply.
Can't make it? We will also present information sessions on the following dates:
Thursday, December 2nd 6:00-7:00 pm, in the 5710 OMSA Community Lounge, 5710 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Questions? Please contact the Student Intern Ian Williams at or Program Director Trudi Langendorf at or 773.834.2699.

Volunteer Opportunities in Chicago

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Chicago VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES, as listed in the University Community Service Center Newsletter:

King College Prep After School Tutoring Center
King College Prep, located at 45th and Drexel, runs an after-school tutoring center for its students. Students from all grades are welcome and come for homework assistance, help understanding subject material, and help studying for exams. Volunteers who can tutor in all high school subjects, but especially world languages, sciences, and math, are sought. Tutors must demonstrate proficiency in the material they tutor and must be interested in working with teens. Previous experience tutoring or working with youth is a plus, but not required. The tutoring center is open Monday through Thursday from 3 to 5 pm. Volunteers are required to make a mimimum 2 hour commitment per week, and must come on the same day every week.
Interested individuals can email their inquiries to or by phone at 413-244-6737. They should email their availability, relevant experience and areas of tutoring expertise.

Volunteer tutoring opportunity at Urban Prep Academy in East Garfield Park!
Research shows that only 1 in 40 African American males will graduate from college. Only 45% will even graduate high school in Chicago. But you can be a part of the effort to reduce this trend. Urban Prep Academy is a charter high school that serves African American students from the South and West Sides of Chicago. Currently, Urban Prep is looking for enthusiastic, service-oriented book lovers to lead twice-weekly reading skills groups at our school. UChicago students who want to contribute their intelligence, enthusiasm and dedication to helping the young men of Urban Prep succeed, this is for you. Here are the details:

* Lead a tutoring group to improve student literacy or lead a book discussion group to encourage young men to read outside the classroom. Students will be broken into groups based on their reading levels. Abilities range from non-readers (2nd grade competency or below) to highly literate (12th grade competency or above), so there is a wide variety of teaching opportunities available.
* Meet for one hour twice a week. Times and days are flexible, based on your availability. Groups can meet during the school day from 11-12pm or after school from 4-5pm. Groups will be held at Urban Prep Academy, East Garfield Park Campus, right off the Green Line.
* Why: Currently, 71% of incoming freshmen are reading below grade level and 66% of our sophomores are still behind. The faculty only has so much time in the day, so they are hoping to find qualified students to help.

If you would like to get involved, email Sara at or call 773.354.4960 for more information. To learn more about what Urban Prep Academies is all about, please see our website at

by Lynda Lopez, UCSC News & Public Affairs

According to a report released by the federal Corporation for National and Community Service, college student volunteering increased by 20 percent between 2002 and 2005, more than doubling the growth in the adult volunteering rate. It found that 3.3 million college students volunteered in 2005 - nearly 600,000 more students than three years ago -- building strong momentum toward a national goal of five million college student volunteers by the end of 2010.

Volunteering has become an innate part of many student lives. From tutoring children at a local elementary school to taking care of kids at a children's hospital, there are endless opportunities to volunteer. This year, ten students at the University of Chicago will be selected for the Students in Service (SIS) Program. The Students in Service Program is a part-time AmeriCorps program that encourages and supports college and university students to enroll as part-time AmeriCorps. The students selected will have to complete 300 hours of volunteering at a local organization and after completion of the program each student will be awarded a $1,132 grant to commemorate their efforts.

The University Community Service Center received a total of $11,320 for the Students in Service Program through the Illinois Campus Compact (ILCC). The ILCC is a coalition of colleges and universities that supports the civic engagement of students. Currently Illinois Campus Compact has 43 member campuses. Illinois members are part of national Campus Compact, a coalition of nearly 1,100 college and university presidents, representing some 6 million students. The ILCC was awarded 100 part-time AmeriCorps slots from Washington Campus Compact. The University of Chicago, along with 11 other institutions, will have students participate this year in the SIS program. Over 3,700 college students will participate nationally and they will contribute approximately 1.4 million hours of service to their local communities.

The University Community Center will be starting the process of selecting students for this prestigious program in the coming weeks. Two slots for the program have been taken by two students interning in Mayor Daley's office. If you are interested in learning more about the program, contact Julia Pei, the Strategic Initiatives Intern at UCSC at