CONNECT - Civic Opportunities to Network Needs for Educational and Community Transformation

The Illinois State University CONNECT Initiative is a mentorship program designed to promote positive youth development in public schools. Serving both local and Chicago public schools, CONNECT pairs ISU student mentors with middle school students, and together, the pair form a relationship through weekly Skype sessions, various school visits, and a mentee-designed community project.  This 9-month volunteer, service-learning program is open to all Illinois State University teacher education majors who wish to gain more experience in urban, underserviced areas.


Grow Your Own (GYO)

Grow Your Own Teacher (GYO) is a unique, community-based teacher preparation program. Formed by Illinois State University, Malcolm X College, Enlace Chicago Kenwood and Oakland Community Organization, and Chicago Public Schools GYO offers community members and educational paraprofessionals from high needs Chicago public schools an opportunity to complete a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education, with optional endorsements in Bilingual and English as a Second Language (ESL).. After completion, GYO graduates return to their respective neighborhoods, providing high quality teachers to the Kenwood/ Oakland and Little Village communities. ISU-GYO is elated to announce and witness their first four graduates this December 2011 from Illinois State University.

Initiative for Educational Renewal

State Farm Insurance® Company Foundation Grant NEIGHBORS Project-National Engagement to Induct Growth and Housing: Building Organizations for Residents and Students

The NEIGHBORS Project worked with PDS (Professional Development Schools), a yearlong student teaching experience, to further integrate student teachers into the community by combining university learning with on-the-job experience.

As part of the NEIGHBORS Project, PDS interns both worked in a Chicago school and lived in housing within the same neighborhood, allowing them to provide assistance in classrooms and communications among the school, home, and community.

This program not only emphasized the urban teacher preparation of PDS interns but also worked to recruit students from Chicago to go to college at ISU, become teachers, and then return to Chicago to teach. In this way, ISU, State Farm, and other partners contributed to the bright future of Chicago neighborhoods by making the most important investment possible- an investment in people.


Professional Articulation for Recruiting/Retaining Teachers for Neighborhood Engagement and Renewal (PARTNER) Project

The Professional Articulation for Recruiting/Retaining Teachers for Neighborhood Engagement and Renewal (PARTNER) Project is a project designed to increase the number of people from the Little Village community who enter teacher education programs and then return to Chicago to teach. With a particular emphasis on the Little Village area, PARTNER joined forces with Chicago Public Schools, State Farm Insurance Company, Little Village Community Development Corporation, Golden Apple Foundation, National Board Resource Center, City Colleges of Chicago (Truman and Daley Colleges), and Local Initiatives Support Corporation to recruit and retain quality teachers.

Funded by a 2.5 million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Education, the PARTNER Project built support for teachers within the community while recruiting and supporting teacher candidates through partner institutions.  To help ensure success, PARTNER developed a tracking system, following participants through their education and beyond.