August Membership Spotlight- Loyola University

August 20, 2018

In 2015, Loyola University Chicago put a strategic plan into place called the 2020 Plan. The development of this plan started with the question, “How do we, as a university, live in and for this social reality and use our influence to transform it?” In answering this question, Loyola decided they must think of themselves more as a transformative agent, rather than a group of schools, departments, and programs.

In one of their steps to make a positive impact on their community, a year and a half ago Loyola initiated Schools 2020. This program, directed by Mitchell Hendrickson, works with public schools in the Rogers Park community.

Of these schools, five are elementary schools, and one is a high school. School 2020 offers a plethora of professional development opportunities for teachers and many sorts of programing for their students.

Science teachers receive onsite training from Loyola professors. These professors’ help teachers create curriculum and provide up to date professional development opportunities regarding their focuses. In the next year, Mitchell hopes to expand this service to courses outside of science.

One of the schools in this program, Sullivan High School, serves a diverse group of student who together speak 48 languages. Loyola focused on the specific needs of this school by placing social work professors and English language learning experts here to help students stay on track.

Loyola students have also committed to the Schools 2020 program. Students can volunteer in many different ways. They serve directly by cleaning up the school, help with maintaining infrastructure at the school by painting. Students also relieve teachers by facilitating lunch and recess.

Other Loyola students volunteer in ways that are connected to their majors. Exercise Science students create curriculum for gym classes. Loyola Honors Students participate in after school reading programs. Schools 2020 has also created a Women in Leadership program so that k-12 students can experience women role models and mentors. The program has also put into place Rogers Park Student Congress. This is a cohort of students from all the schools, including Loyola student government members.

An important aspect of Mitchell’s job as director of the Schools 2020 Program is to find funding for the program. So far, he has been incredible successful in this, which has made for the opportunity of expanding the program. With a half a million dollar grant, Schools 2020 is placing a full time staff member at four of the Rogers Park schools. This position is a full time community resource person who can completely focuses on the needs of the specific school.

Another aspect of expanding the program is Schools 2020 new AmeriCorps VISTA. The VISTA, starting this month, will focus on creating a volunteer recruitment strategy and will develop new projects based on their interest.

The Schools 2020 program already facilitates many layers of community engagement, but what is most exciting about this program is their drive to expand. By the year 2020 rolls around I am sure this programs impact will be exactly what Loyola University was hoping for when implementing their plan in 2015.