October 10, 2014

University offers Civic Leadership

Last week, the University announced the launch of the Civic Leadership Academy, a training institute for budding leaders of nonprofits and governmental organizations in Chicago and beyond. Through its programming, it hopes to provide nonprofits with stronger leaders by helping people who otherwise may not have been able to develop their skills due to limited resources.

“The Civic Leadership Academy was created as part of a growing effort to strengthen leadership and impact of organizations throughout the city of Chicago,” Joanie Friedman, director of civic partnerships in the Office of Civic Engagement, wrote in an e-mail. “We saw an opportunity to bring together several of the University’s academic strengths to create a learning opportunity.”

This training will be in the form of a six-month course from January to June 2015, with applications due in November. The course will be broken up into six “modules,” according to the Academy’s website. The modules focus on strategic planning, budgeting, team building, communication, data analytics, and policy development. The goal is to provide an interdisciplinary approach to leadership training. Applicants must be full-time employees of non-profits or government agencies with demonstrated leadership skills and relevant work experience, according to the application website.

Students will also be required to develop and implement an idea of their own for an aspect of the course called the Capstone Project. Each project will be specific to the organization of the participant and will aim to address some issue that the organization is facing.

Each student who finishes the $5,000 course will be granted a Certificate of Civic Leadership from the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy.

Friedman said the Academy was under development for two years. The effort was led by the University’s Office of Civic Engagement, in partnership with two area non-profits, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation Chicago and the Civic Consulting Alliance. The Institute of Politics and faculty from five professional schools also aided in the Academy’s creation.

Friedman believes that it is the University’s responsibility to engage with the community.

“Part of the University’s approach to civic engagement includes using its role as an educator to develop leaders and ideas that benefit our surrounding community,” Friedman wrote.