Making a Difference Through Community Service

Making a Difference Through Community Service

Center for Civic EngagementStudents pursuing Northwestern University’s Civic Engagement Certificate presented their capstone projects, the culmination of two years of community service and classroom learning.

Coordinated in conjunction with School of Education and Social Policy (SESP), the five-semester Civic Engagement Certificate program involves at least 100 hours of community service and gives students tools for making a positive change in local communities.

Current students worked with four community organizations, including Centro Romero, Chicago HOPES for Kids, Playworks, and The Peace Center – United Church of Rogers Park.

“We strive for reciprocal competency,” said faculty member Paul Arntson, who teaches the capstone classes. “The students experience a lot of uncertainty and work with people much different than they are. But they learn to work together to reduce the uncertainty and build competent projects.”

Open to all Northwestern students, the Civic Engagement Certificate Program is directed by SESP Professor Dan Lewis.

Participating students, sponsors and project descriptions follow:

Elizabeth Guthrie (journalism) Ronnie Hayden (learning sciences), Christopher Mayorga (learning sciences Latino/Latina studies), Alena Prcela (journalism, English literature)

Sponsor: Centro Romero

From the Classroom to the Workplace: Facilitating Holistic Education for Students at Centro Romero
The Northwestern team designed and implemented a program to improve the Adult Basic Education program for Centro Romero, a nonprofit which offers services for immigrants and refugees on Chicago’s Northside. The project involved re-designing the Science and Multimedia Lab (SAM) to be a multi-media/multi-learning space for students of all ages and learning styles and helping students transfer classroom knowledge to the workplace by facilitating partnerships with businesses, community organizations, and professionals.

Kevin Corkran (social policy, economics), Rachael Goldberg (economics, French), and Michael Hermes (social policy)

Sponsor: Chicago HOPES for Kids

Growing HOPES: Building Capacity through Marketing and Outreach
To increase the visibility and awareness of Chicago HOPES for Kids in the Chicagoland area, students worked closely with the organization to design marketing materials and research outreach strategies. The team created a turnkey presentation, trifold brochure, elevator pitch, and a press release. They also researched how to create a visibility campaign and used their data to make recommendations about how best to position Chicago HOPES within various clubs and organizations in the community to expand the organization’s scope and impact.

Bevy Daniel (social policy), Rachel Rasmussen (human development and psychological services) and Melody Reichard (human development and psychological services)

Sponsor: Playworks

Playground Practices: A Trauma Informed Training for Playworks Coaches
Students researched and developed an interactive workshop and training program to help Playworks coaches work with schoolchildren who have been impacted by trauma. The workshop was facilitated by Playworks staff to help the educators work through conflict, provide feedback, and share the importance of trauma-informed practices with others at their schools.

Reena Burt (social policy, economics), Isabel Dobbel (social policy), Damaris Hernandez (learning sciences), Caroline Werner (social policy)

Sponsor: The Peace Center – United Church of Rogers Park

The Peace Center:  After-School Enrichment Curriculum
After surveying the students, the Northwestern team found that more after-school mathematics programs were needed. They then created a guide including several different lessons to help Peace Center transition to an evaluative math curriculum in the fall of 2018. This guide also will include opportunities for grants, tutoring partnerships with local universities, tutor training materials, and an overview of the data collection and coding process.


By Julie Deardorff
Last Modified: 6/14/18