Civic engagement at the University of Chicago is a University-wide endeavor. From students donating their energy and ideas to serve local nonprofits, to faculty researching solutions to urban problems, to the Office of Civic Engagement leading a wide range of initiatives to support neighboring communities, it is happening in small and large ways in every corner of our campus every day.

Office of Civic Engagement

The Office of Civic Engagement is committed to strengthening the impact the University of Chicago can have on the lives of people living in Chicago and cities around the world through meaningful collaborations and innovative programming with our students and faculty, neighbors, and government and civic partners.

The following are some opportunities through the Office of Civic Engagement for students to engage with the University’s community partners.

Neighborhood Schools Program

NSP is one of the UChicago’s longest-standing community outreach programs. Founded in 1976 as a way for the University to connect to local schools, NSP has grown to partner with 50 schools and community sites and engages more than 350 University student volunteers and employees.

NSP welcomes all UChicago students interested in making a difference in local education. The program offers students a number of different roles: tutor, teaching assistant, administrative intern, and technology coordinator. NSP hires students who are work-study eligible (and a limited number of non-work-study students), and has many opportunities for sustained volunteering. NSP offers flexible scheduling, competitive pay, and transportation to sites beyond walking distance from campus.

University Community Service Center

Founded in 1996 by now First Lady Michelle Obama, UCSC prepares students to become productive, thoughtful citizens and effective, inspiring leaders in their communities and professions by providing them with service opportunities that complement a rigorous academic experience.

UCSC offers different community service options that tailor to student interests: volunteer referral, student-run groups, campus-wide days of service, first-year pre-orientation service week, community-building and social justice programs, tie-ins with course work, and internships and federal work-study employment at community organizations, including nonprofits, hospitals, businesses, and government agencies.

Each year, more than 2,000 students participate in UCSC programs and events in partnership with more than 250 organizations throughout Chicago.

Community Programs Accelerator

The Community Programs Accelerator at University of Chicago supports the success of nonprofits on the mid-South Side of Chicago through partnerships, resources, and technical assistance. The Accelerator works closely with 15 community organizations and, through a community education series of workshops and seminars, provides technical education and capacity building support to more than 100 organizations.

Students have opportunities to support local community organizations through internships, field placements, and pro bono consulting engagements in one of three broadly defined categories: research and grant writing, program design and evaluation, or communications and technology. There are also a number of staff roles for students who want to help develop the capacity of the Accelerator to engage students and the University community in this work.

UChicago Local Student Economic Development Consulting Experience

Through SEDCE, student teams provide local businesses with data-driven strategies and action plans. Students who participate in this program will apply their academic learning to solve a real, local business challenge. SEDCE is a part of UChicago Local, an initiative led by the Office of Civic Engagement to advance the University’s commitment to the economic development of neighboring areas by providing businesses and residents with training and connections that help them work more closely with the University and UChicago Medicine. In the 2016-2017 academic year, SEDCE will be held in the spring quarter; applications will be available in early 2017. Email for more information.

Civic Engagement Student Advisory Committee

The Student Advisory Committee provides a student voice to help shape Office of Civic Engagement priorities, special events, and community engagement initiatives. The committee advises the Vice President for Civic Engagement on student concerns that relates to the University’s interaction and relations with the community, and strengthens the connections and communication between the Office of Civic Engagement and the many student-led community initiatives across the campus.

Winning Words Precollege Philosophy Program

Winning Words is a public ethics program of the University of Chicago Civic Knowledge Project (CKP). During the yearlong program, UChicago students and faculty facilitate provocative and meaningful activities and projects with children and young people, from pre-K through 12th grade, across Chicago’s mid-South Side. Winning Words offers high quality and diverse philosophy instruction both on campus and at schools, community centers, foundations, churches, and more. Students interested in the Winning Words Program, should contact CKP Executive Director Bart Schultz at

Institute of Politics

IOP offers a variety of paid and volunteers community and civic engagement opportunities for students. They include:

Student Civic Engagement Program

As the action arm of the IOP, the Student Civic Engagement Program supports community action projects. IOP help train students to develop, manage, and lead civic engagement projects with local politicians, schools, and communities. It is open to all students, regardless of major, program, or involvement with IOP programming. Generally, each project asks for a commitment of roughly four hours per week, and different projects have different sign-up times and application cycles.

Fellows Ambassadorship

Fellows Ambassadors serve as the link between an IOP Fellow and the campus community. Ambassadors work in a small cohort of five students who work closely with the Fellow on planning trips and seminars, discussing issues important to the Fellow. All students, regardless of major, program, or involvement with IOP programming, are welcome to apply. To become an ambassador, students must apply four weeks prior to the start of each quarter. The positions require a time commitment of four – eight hours per week for the quarter.

Student Advisory Board

The Student Advisory Board is a group of undergraduate and graduate students who work in tandem with IOP staff and Board of Advisors to plan programming and carry out the mission of the Institute on campus. Board membership is open to all students who have been actively engaged with the IOP in a meaningful way. Applications to join open March of each year, and can be found on Chicago Career Connection. Once accepted onto the board, students are required to commit roughly five to eight hours per week for one to two years.

Campus and Student Life

CSL is dedicated to helping students, staff, and faculty experience university life at its fullest. Through a wide array of programs and services, CSL provides opportunities and experiences that build community on and off campus. Some are listed below, and others appear on the website.

Center for Leadership and Involvement

The Center for Leadership and Involvement is a multi-faceted office that encourages student involvement at the University of Chicago and provides learning opportunities in ways as diverse and valuable as possible, while enhancing the unique culture of the University. This includes advising and supporting the more than 350 Recognized Student Organizations (RSOs) on campus, and managing UChicago Leads, the central home to the student leadership development programs at the University.

Center for Identity + Inclusion

The Center for Identity + Inclusion creates intentionally diverse and inclusive communities, serving as a bridge builder by engaging students and members of the University community of all backgrounds to ensure personal, academic, and professional growth and success. The Center includes the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, LGBTQ Student Life, and Student Support Services, and invites students interested in diversity and inclusion to apply for membership on the OMSA, LGBTQ, or SSS Student Advisory Council or to participate in a host of programs and events at the Center.

Spiritual Life

Students looking for an opportunity to engage in interfaith action at UChicago are encouraged to get involved with any of the religious and spiritual groups on campus, as well as the Spiritual Life Council, a group of undergraduates and graduates from diverse religious, spiritual, and philosophical perspectives who gather weekly to build relationships with each other, learn from one another, and address global spiritual diversity.

UChicago Career Advancement 

Career Advancement empowers students and alumni to translate their academic foundation into professional success. Through industry-specific training, global networking connections, and opportunities to put a world-class education into practice, the office is helping students embark upon successful futures. Career Advancement is also proud to offer the Jeff Metcalf Internship Program, which provides paid, substantive internships exclusively to UChicago students during the summer and the academic year.

Visit Career Advancement’s website to learn more about civic engagement opportunities through pre-professional programs in a wide range of fields, including:

UChicago Careers in Public Policy and Service (UCIPPS) is a non-selective program that offers a wide range of services and opportunities to students interested in public and social service careers.

UChicago Careers in Education Professions (EdPros) provides specialized preparation for students interested in pursuing careers in teaching, educational administration, research, and education policy.

UChicago Careers in Journalism, Arts, and Media (UCIJAM) connects students with internships, fellowships, employment opportunities, and alumni networks to help them launch successful careers in these fields.