Community Partnership and Impact

Faculty Research and Student Learning that Strengthen Communities

At the Crown Family School, community engagement is a fundamental part of our history and mission. Our Office of Community Partnership and Impact develops and advances strategic partnerships that pair our faculty and students with community members, local organizations, and government agencies to collaboratively tackle pressing social issues. These partnerships expand opportunities for faculty-led research, enrich students' academic experience, and strengthen South Side neighborhoods. Our goal — expressed by our founders more than a century ago — is to help create a more engaged University that includes and responds to the voices and needs of our neighbors.

Expanding Faculty Research

Our Office of Community Partnership and Impact helps faculty develop impactful research collaborations with civic partners who would most benefit from their expertise. To do this, our team works with community organizations, policy makers, and civic leaders to identify opportunities where the School’s intellectual “firepower” can help our partners address a specific issue or answer a particular question. Drawing from faculty at the Crown Family School and other parts of the University, we build interdisciplinary teams of researchers whose expertise aligns with our partners' needs. We develop and advance partnerships between University researchers and civic partners that are mutually beneficial: they help faculty access new opportunities for data collection, research, and publication, while providing our partners with the expertise and technical assistance they need to more effectively achieve their missions.

Examples of the Office's current partnerships include:

  • Serve as an academic partner to the Cook County Promise Guaranteed Income Pilot, partnering with the University’s Inclusive Economy Lab (IEL) to evaluate this basic income program, amplify the voices of its participants, and convene public conversations on this and other guaranteed income pilots and their potential to alleviate poverty and inequality.
  • Serve as the academic partner to the Chicago Department of Housing, bringing together University researchers to identify inclusive housing policies that effectively build wealth among Chicago’s traditionally marginalized populations and shrink the City’s pervasive racial wealth gap.
  • Serve as an academic partner to the Governor’s Future of Work Task Force, organizing faculty from across the University to produce a report on evidence-based policy recommendations for creating equitable, long-term economic growth that ensures all Illinoisans share in that success.

Deepening Student Learning

Students come to the Crown Family School to garner the theoretical foundations and policy perspectives needed to impact the lives of society’s most marginalized people. The Office of Community Partnership and Impact augments this culture of learning by connecting students directly to the people and institutions that drive social change in Chicago. The Office does this by:

  • Leading student-facing leadership development programs on behalf of the University, like the University of Chicago Obama Foundation Scholars program. With a particular focus on neighborhoods near campus, these programs bring together students from across campus and empower them with the skills, relationships, and perspectives to tackle their communities’ most pressing challenges.
  • Offering students a robust set of experiential learning opportunities that take them off-campus to meet with and learn from civic leaders, elected officials, and community activists. Through these local “Civic Treks” on topics like community development, violence interruption, healthcare equity, immigration reform, and climate resilience, students develop new and sustained relationships with civic practitioners who are working on the South Side.
  • Forming research partnerships that allow students to be directly involved in policy development and close to the people impacted by those policies. As part of the faculty-led academic partnerships described above, students help conduct interviews and gather data, gaining first-hand experience in administering innovative social policy programs.

Office Leadership

Adrian Talbott is the Associate Dean for Civic Engagement at the Crown Family School, where he leads the Office of Community Partnership and Impact. In this capacity, he works with a broad range of civic leaders, elected officials, community activists, and policymakers to develop strategic partnerships that pair our faculty and students with community organizations and government agencies to collaboratively address pressing social issues in Chicago, the City, and the region. Adrian is a member of several boards and public commissions at the city and state levels, and chairs the board of Sunshine Enterprises, a local nonprofit that develops community entrepreneurs to address the racial wealth gap. Adrian earned a Bachelor of Arts with high honors from Amherst College and an MA from the University of Chicago Divinity School.

To learn more about partnering with the Office of Community Partnership and Impact, contact Adrian Talbott.

Read more about how the Crown Family School engages with communities: