UChicago faculty and public experts at a 2014 forum on "The Informed City: Data-Driven Approaches to a More Just, Equitable, and Sustainable City”. From front to back: Brenna Berman, Commissioner and DoIT CIO, City of Chicago; Kate Cagney, Associate Professor of Sociology and Health Studies; Melissa Gilliam, Professor of Obstetrics/Gynecology; Stacy Lindau, Associate Professor of Obstetrics/Gynecology and Medicine-Geriatrics; and John Tolva, former Chief Technology Officer, City of Chicago.


The Community Programs Accelerator is an initiative of the University of Chicago’s Office of Civic Engagement that supports community-based nonprofit organizations serving Chicago’s mid-South Side. The Accelerator helps to develop and strengthen organizations by delivering technical assistance, providing access to University resources, creating connections across the University, and leveraging partnerships with industry practitioners to improve the effectiveness of their program delivery and foster their long-term sustainability. Now in its second year, the Community Programs Accelerator has supported 12 organizations at various stages of development, from startup to historical community anchor.


Many UChicago faculty members are interested in projects that connect their work, research, and interests to community needs. Faculty-led community engagement efforts generally fall into three categories: fulfillment of outreach goals for a grant-funded project that is ending or transitioning to a new form; addition or expansion of the outreach components for an existing initiative; or assistance with funding, planning and outreach for a newly developing initiative. 

OCE has created a separate set of services within the Community Programs Accelerator that will exclusively support mid-South Side community-based initiatives conceived of and led by UChicago faculty. This new faculty program will build upon the Accelerator’s current activities and utilize its current infrastructure and staff to help increase capacity for community engagement and strengthen the long-term impact of programs.


The Community Programs Accelerator’s Faculty Support Program will support selected initiatives that have a significant community engagement component for a one-year period, whether the aim is to establish a 501c3 organization or continue as a University program.

These faculty initiatives will receive the full range of support provided to current Accelerator organizations, including grant funding and development of strategic partnerships toward the initiative’s goals. A particular focus will be placed on supporting community engagement activities, such as conducting in-depth interviews and conversations with community stakeholders, developing community advisory boards, establishing relationships with local school and community leaders, performing environmental scans of related work, gaining insights from other University community engagement programs, and developing communications plans focused on community stakeholders.

As part of the Accelerator’s application process, interested faculty members will identify the overall aims of their initiatives and the key areas of support they are seeking from the Office of Civic Engagement.

Examples of Types of Program Support

  • Up to $50,000 in the first year, divided among one to three groups 
Community Engagement Support
  • Environmental scan of related programming across city, community, and University
  • Community needs assessment
  • Introductions to key community leaders
  • Support toward developing community partnerships
  • Focus groups
  • Community advisory committees 
Project-Based Support (one or two areas per project, as needed)
  • Curriculum development
  • Strategic fundraising
  • Data collection strategy
  • Business plan 
General Project Management Support
  • Administrative coordination (as needed)

Request for Letters of Interest

The Community Programs Accelerator’s new Faculty Support Program seeks letters of interest (LOIs) from University of Chicago faculty for initiatives that engage the local community.  A subset of applicants will be asked to submit additional information as a full proposal. Of those, one or more grantees will be selected to receive funding of up to $50,000 for one year, as well as a suite of support services. This request for letters of interest is not a commitment to fund any program.

Applicant Requirements and Instructions

To be considered for the Community Programs Accelerator’s Faculty Support Program, all applicants, in their letters of interest, will be required to:

  • Present a clear description of the program that they seek to launch, enhance or continue, and include any relevant data to support the magnitude and scope of the challenge the community faces and the likely demand for the program
  • Discuss how the program will address the area of interest and have transformational impact (Please include any supporting research or evidence.) 
  • Identify potential University or community partnerships for the programming initiative
  • Identify if there are any potential roles for University students in the programming initiative
  • Incorporate an estimated project timeline
  • Include an estimate of the overall annual project cost to conduct the programming

Submit letters of interest to atalbott@uchicago.edu or shaz@uchicago.edu by October 15, 2016.

For more information, visit http://civicengagement.uchicago.edu/research/faculty-connect/, or contact Adrian Talbott atalbott@uchicago.edu or Shaz Rasul shaz@uchicago.edu.


  • June 2016: Call for Letters of Interest (LOI) for Faculty Support Program
  • October 15, 2016:  Close LOI submission period
  • October 16-December 1: LOI review and selection process
  • December 2016:  Announce selected faculty programs
  • Winter 2017: Begin working with selected faculty programs