Wednesday, October 6, 2010

DePaul’s Egan Urban Center Building Sustainable Communities through Local Partnerships

DePaul University is working through the John J. Egan Urban Center to partner with the local community to address critical problems within the surrounding urban area. The center was founded in 1994 through the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and The Chicago Community Trust. The goal of the center according to their website is to “channel community and economic development assistance to minority and underprivileged neighborhoods in a direct and concentrated way drawing upon faculty, student, and neighborhood resources.” The center is named after Father Egan for his work in bringing focus to people in distressed circumstances and communities on the west side of the greater Chicago area.

The center has also taken an active role in the Black-Latino Working Groups Initiative. The Egan Center’s Office of Neighborhood and Community Partnerships helps to foster a dialogue between Black and Latino leaders in the Humboldt Park, Chicago Lawn, and North South Lawndale for collaborative community projects. The overall goal is to develop a joint undertaking to benefit these communities through development projects, affordable housing, food co-ops, and credit unions. The center participated in 2006 Conference of Urban Ministries’ panel discussion on realizing the use of church assets to identify commonalities. They also are partnering with the Center for Latino Research to produce five events focused on the existing dialogue that has been built through efforts of the Black-Latino working Group Initiative.
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One of the programs that the Egan Urban Center worked on was the West Humboldt Park Community Technology Centers (WHPCTC) through the West Humboldt Park Development Project. This project worked on the issue of “digital divide” which is a common topic in the sustainable development community. The Egan Center was awarded a 1.4 million dollar US Department of Education grant for the WHPCTC. The project was able to expand the already existing technology to create opportunities for the community to share information and expand computer access. The program also offers training in computer applications, systems support, and maintenance to expand the job opportunities for those in the community to provide longer term assistance. By training those in the community the WHPCTC establishes a program that can be sustained by those it has trained who can then continue to train others.

The Egan Center has taken their community involvement to education through a certificate program. This program shares the Egan Center’s approach to “creating sustainable institutional community partnerships by working in close collaboration with community leaders and residents to design and implement programs and initiatives,” according to the Egan Urban Center’s website. It is a program for those working in the communities to gain valuable skills in sustainability and effective responses will understanding the responsibilities to the local community. The Egan Center through the certificate program hopes to develop community leaders who can mobilize assets and resources, develop meaningful relationships with important actors, while also understanding their full potential and position within the community.

If you would like to volunteer with the Egan Center Click Here

Through the Egan Center, DePaul has a great asset in moving forward with sustainable community projects. By fostering important community relationships and providing critical need through neighborhood involvement the Egan Center is creating long term community partnerships. It is also educating those within the community to pay it forward.

Posted by Kristina Vitali

Image: Egan Center

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