BY ISN STAFF | March 21, 2016
CHICAGO, IL – Loyola University Chicago is launching Lake Shore Community Partners, an innovative community partnership that builds on the University’s existing relationships within the Rogers Park and Edgewater communities and will improve the quality of life for residents through thoughtful economic and social efforts.The program is an important component of Plan 2020: Building a More Just, Humane, and Sustainable World, the University’s recently released strategic plan that will guide Loyola for the next five years and challenge the institution to continue to deepen its commitment to social justice practices in Chicago and global communities. Lake Shore Community Partners represents a critical initiative of institutional priority four, which calls on the University community to develop and implement a Loyola/Rogers Park/Edgewater partnership program.
“Plan 2020 is rooted in our commitment to address complex societal problems locally and globally,” said John P. Pelissero, Ph.D., interim president of Loyola University Chicago. “With the creation of Lake Shore Community Partners, we have a clear opportunity to leverage our resources and join with community leaders to implement innovative ideas and strategies, while embracing and sustaining the cultural and economic diversity of our neighborhoods.”
As part of the initiative, leaders from Loyola and the community, including neighborhood aldermen Joe Moore and Harry Osterman, have identified and are committing to four immediate priority areas: Partners for Health, Partners for Business, Partners for Education, and Partners for Safety.
Partners for Health
The Loyola Community and Family Services clinic is the anchor project for Partners for Health and an interdisciplinary effort to provide low-cost mental health services to families residing in the Rogers Park and Edgewater communities. The clinic, which is housed in the University’s Granada Center on Sheridan Road, was developed by a number of University partners, including the School of Social Work and School of Education.
“There is a great need for mental health services across our city, but it is especially needed on the city’s far north side,” said Richard Renfro, PhD, the new director of Loyola Community and Family Services. “Very few mental health clinics cater to marginalized families and children who are without the resources needed to seek health services. My hope is that this clinic sends a strong and positive message that Loyola is committed to the needs and well-being of our community members.”
The clinic will serve as a facility for training externs from the School of Social Work and School of Education. In addition to working in the clinic, these externs will also have the opportunity to, under staff supervision, provide school-based services such as group therapy and consultations at local schools, including Nicholas Senn High School in Edgewater.
The clinic will open to the public later this month and be fully operational in fall 2016.
Partners for Business
The lead initiative within this focus area includes Loyola’s Department of Community Relations working with neighborhood leaders to better connect the Edgewater and Rogers Park communities by encouraging economic development within “RogersEdge,” defined as the area where Devon Avenue, Sheridan Road, and Broadway intersect on the city’s north side.
“I am passionate about economic development that respects the historic culture of our Rogers Park and Edgewater communities, while balancing incoming development into RogersEdge,” said Jennifer Clark, associate vice president of campus and community planning at Loyola. “I look forward to kicking off a local branding and marketing effort with both neighborhoods that will help put in place an economic infrastructure that will serve future generations.”
Additionally, the University will support local, independently-owned retail owners by offering all-inclusive, short-term license agreements for small retail spaces housed in the Granada Center retail storefront along Sheridan Road. The first small shops, or “tiny shops,” are Third Coast Comics and Local Goods Chicago. Both businesses will share retail space adjacent to campus. Third Coast Comics opened last week and Local Goods Chicago will open in early April.
“Loyola has been exceedingly supportive in aiding our mission to cultivate and sustain a vibrant community in Rogers Park,” said Sandi Price, executive director of the Rogers Park Business Alliance. “We anticipate the continued development and promotion of RogersEdge to be an inventive way to increase retail options in our neighborhood.”
Partners for Education
The Loyola community has deep relationships in dozens of K-12 schools across Chicago, including more than 50 current initiatives taking place in Rogers Park and Edgewater schools. To kick off the Partners for Education initiative, the University will invite local principals and community organizations working in area schools to gather and prioritize needs and propose new initiatives that can broaden and deepen Loyola’s involvement in these schools.
“As an educational institution ourselves, Loyola is committed to utilizing our relationships and leveraging our resources to support the children located in our backyard,” said Terri Pigott, Ph.D., dean of Loyola’s School of Education. “We have hundreds of students, faculty, and staff working and volunteering in classrooms across the city, and we will continue to support the efforts of local K-12 teachers and administrators while identifying new ways we can all be more effective.”
An important example of how Loyola can lend its resources to further the growth of the community is the work that has occurred at Nicholas Senn High School for the last four years.
“We consider our relationship with Loyola to be a true partnership,” said Mary Beck, interim principal at Nicholas Senn High School. “Our students are learning from Loyola students, Loyola students are learning from our teachers, and our teachers are learning from Loyola faculty members. The University’s presence can be felt throughout our school building, and our community is stronger for it.”
Partners for Safety
The Partners for Safety initiative kicked off earlier this year with a State of the Neighborhood Forum. Members of Loyola’s Campus Safety department joined 49th Ward Alderman Joe Moore and representatives from the Chicago Police Department and Chicago Transit Authority to discuss existing safety initiatives in the area and to address questions from the audience. Moving forward, this group will continue conversations to strategize and overcome the most pressing barriers to safety in the community and propose tools for educating and informing neighbors about safety initiatives.
Looking ahead, Loyola and community leaders expect additional initiatives and projects to grow under the Lake Shore Community Partners umbrella. The local community will have a number of opportunities to engage with the program, which will offer a formal request for proposals process in the future.
[Loyola University Chicago]