Special Focus: Promise Neighborhoods Model
Loyola University Chicago | Chicago, Illinois, Michael Garanzini, president
Loyola University Chicago is the largest Catholic research university in the country.
This Jesuit institution weaves service and community engagement into everyday life, embedding it in service-learning courses, research projects, student organizations, and various programs throughout the institutional culture.
Students and staff involved in Loyola’s service-learning programs feel that they are truly integrated into the communities in which they serve, and the mission "to expand knowledge in service of humanity" helps recruit students and faculty.
The Center for Experiential Learning offered 82 service-learning courses, in which 20 percent of all undergraduates enrolled. That translated to 75,735 hours of community engagement.
An array of richly diverse educational programs brings students into contact with the communities of Chicago in a meaningful way. The Madonna Scholars High School Intervention Program engaged 80 female, at-risk high school students in a four-year intervention program designed to decrease dropout rates, increase graduation rates, and support college readiness, following the Promise Neighborhood Model. Madonna scholars participated in a wide range of educational programs, including a book club, a leadership retreat, and a workshop on domestic violence prevention. The 24 participating students were transformed as they came to understand the deep challenges of poverty. All of the girls who participated in the program were accepted to college, and 68 percent of them received scholarships upon high school graduation.
Also in the Promise Neighborhood Model, the Target New Transitions (TNT)—Freshmen Retention Program focused on transitioning middle school students to high school in a supportive, encouraging manner. The 42 Loyola students and two staff members met every Saturday with 263 at-risk students from Curie High School, providing 4,608 hours of mentoring, coaching, and tutoring, as well as providing models of educational attainment for the young people.
Curie High School is a low-performing school serving a low-income population. Annual assessment data indicated that the participating youth improved their grades and attendance rates.
Loyola’s math tutoring program engaged 37 service-learners with 253 fourth- to eighth-grade students from six different public schools. Once again following the Promise Neighborhood Model, and based upon a social justice framework, Loyola students tutored students in math every weekday throughout the academic year. Results indicate that each of the schools have shown improved academic performance and that the children have gained confidence as a result of the individual relationships.