March 4, 2004
Vol. 23 No. 11

current issue
archive / search
Chronicle RSS Feed

    Bank One grant will fund new SSA program

    By William Harms
    News Office

    The School of Social Service Administration

    The University has received a $1 million donation from Bank One to prepare future social workers for leadership roles in community schools.

    The grant, made to the School of Social Service Administration, will fund the creation of the Bank One Program for Leadership in Community Schools, which will provide fellowships, field education and career services to prepare students to lead community schools. The program will begin this fall and is expected to benefit community schools across the country.

    During the past decade, community schools have emerged as an important new vehicle to improve student performance and strengthen local communities. Community schools, including those operated by the Chicago Public Schools, are strongly tied to their neighborhoods and link academic programs with social services to help meet the needs of the students, parents and other community residents.

    “Community schools bring together the academic and social support needed to ensure that all students succeed by offering programs before, during and after the school day for students and their families,” said Sarah Duncan, Coordinator of the Program for Leadership in Community Schools at SSA and a prominent Chicago leader in community and school issues. “The programs support academics and expand the services offered within the community. Most community schools in Chicago offer academic enrichment activities for students, including cultural and social activities, as well as health and other services that address the psychosocial barriers to learning.”

    Edward Lawlor, Dean of SSA, added, “This program will develop an important new professional role for social work in the schools.” Community school directors and coordinators work hand-in-hand with school principals to build innovative programs to engage students in effective social services that support social development and educational achievement, said Lawlor.

    “These leadership roles are complex and demanding, and they require expertise in education, clinical practice and assessment, program development, family support, management, and policy and community development. This initiative builds nicely on the strengths of SSA and our students.”

    The community schools program will continue through 2012. “Bank One is delighted to support the University in its education of social workers for community schools,” said Warren Chapman, president of the Bank One Foundation. “Community schools have become an integral and exciting part of the neighborhoods they serve, and the social workers help make that happen.” Jamie Dimon, CEO of Bank One, is a University Trustee. “By investing in this program, we are investing in the futures of Chicago’s students,” Dimon said.

    The gift from Bank One marks an important contribution to the Chicago Initiative, the University’s $2 billion, five-year capital campaign.

    “This is an exciting and innovative addition to the set of cooperative programs through which the University and the Chicago Public Schools work together to improve education. We are grateful to Bank One for its bold leadership and support for this initiative,” said President Randel.

    The School of Social Service Administration at the University is a professional school offering master’s and doctoral degrees in social work. CPS has launched an unprecedented campaign to turn 100 of its schools into community schools, institutions more closely tied to their neighborhoods. The program was initiated in 2002, and currently includes 20 schools, which are seen as anchors in their communities.

    In order to function effectively, the schools need outside resources and are assisted by partners such as foundations and social service agencies. Resource coordinators in CPS community schools work with outside agencies and the school community. In other school districts, these leaders are sometimes called community school directors.

    “CPS is committed to expanding the number of schools that are community schools, and the resource coordinators are vital to that work,” said Tawa Jogunosimi, program manager, CPS Community Schools Initiative, and a 2001 graduate of SSA. “A master’s-level social worker is well-qualified for this role, and the students from SSA have exceptional preparation that will make them excellent leaders in the schools.

    “The resource coordinator needs to do many things, such as working with parents, teachers, community leaders, funding sources and others to tap into their talents for the interests of the individual school,” Jogunosimi said. “SSA graduates are creative problem solvers, and those are the kind of people we need for this position.”

    School districts throughout the country have begun increasingly drawing on outside agencies to help in their work. In New York City, for instance, an extensive program is underway with funding and staff assistance from the Children’s Aid Society. In this program, coordinators of the collaboration between schools and community organizations are called community school directors.

    Delegations from Chicago, including Arne Duncan, CEO for the Chicago Public Schools, have visited community schools in New York City and others in the area, said Jane Quinn, assistant executive director of the Children’s Aid Society and a 1969 graduate of SSA.

    The community school directors in New York work with part-time staff and others who bring enrichment opportunities into the schools, such as sports and arts activities.

    “The community school directors must have strong interpersonal skills because they need to build relationships, see the bigger picture and also attend to details,” Quinn said. Social workers are well prepared for such an assignment because they possess the necessary skills to negotiate, build trust in the neighborhood and maneuver through the regulations that often are part of school administration, she added.