Chicago State University

Contiguous Community Empowerment

Chicago State University President Dr. Wayne Watson coined the phrase “Contiguous Community Empowerment” in 2010 in beginning discussions to explore CSU’s role in the area surrounding community. IYCE believed it important to begin to assess the area, embarking on an asset mapping and needs assessment within the community.

Our first map revealed the area surrounding the university, looking at ¼ miles surrounding the university, a ½ mile, a mile, and then 5 mile radius (see Figure 1). This allowed IYCE staff to set a framework for work related to the university into five distinct levels:

  • Level One - The area ¼ mile from the university, which includes the Rosemoor, Vernon Park, West Chesterfield, Pullman and Burnside Communities.
  • Level Two - Areas approximately ½ mile surrounding the university, which includes more of the Greater Roseland and Pullman areas and Chatham.
  • Level Three - Areas approximately one mile surrounding the university, further extends into the Greater Roseland, Pullman and Chatham areas.
  • Level Four - Areas approximately five miles surrounding the university, which include a large portion of the southside, including Englewood, South Chicago, Riverdale and the East Side.
  • Level Five - Would include the larger Chicagoland area, including the southside of Chicago and other communities seeking partnership with CSU.

The various levels allow IYCE to concentrate the impact of CSU’s work on localized areas, while not ignoring opportunities that extend beyond the contiguous scope. Levels one and two are considered priority areas, whereas levels three-five to a less extent.

In the first year of IYCE, we sought to establish partnerships with neighborhood groups from Level One, and activities related to relationship building, and beginning utilization of campus resources. This included student service learners, students providing non-course related community service, and faculty engaged in community research and projects.

Community-Based Service Learning

IYCE works with CSU faculty and community partners to developed experiential learning opportunities for CSU students in community settings.

Community Service

IYCE conducts Community Service days, where CSU students, staff and faculty engage in community service, such as neighborhood clean and greens, painting, and youth projects.

Community-Based Participatory Research

CSU faculty engage in research projects with the local community. IYCE staff work with faculty and community partners to develop and implement research that seeks to benefit community. IYCE's first project included a community needs assessment and asset mapping project.

CSU Wrap-Around Services

As a part of the contiguous community empowerment, CSU seeks to support neighborhood residents by offering services related to CSU resources, including tutoring, counseling, career building, nursing, and pharmacy.