Great City, Great Tradition
In 1993, the University of Illinois at Chicago created the UIC Great Cities Institute (GCI) and the UIC Office of Community Engagement and Neighborhood Health Partnerships (OCENHP), which was established to work within the communities surrounding UIC.
Allocated a permanent base of recurring state funding in 1993, OCENHP is a major vehicle through which the University fulfills the mission of the Great Cities Commitment with particular emphasis on the engagement of students, faculty and staff in long-term, meaningful relationships with communities. OCENHP is the focal point for university and community collaboration. In 1994, OCENHP received funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Economic Development (HUD) and was a pioneer in the national Community Outreach Partnership Centers movement of university-community partnerships. Subsequently it received further funding from HUD to fund its partnership model. OCENHP has a unique model with vast community participation. In the beginning it had a small staff that operated in a multi-disciplinary and campus-wide level brokering partnerships between community organizations and UIC faculty, units, and colleges.
East Meets West
In the first years of organizational growth, OCENHP was housed and staffed primarily on the East side campus of UIC. In 2000, Dr. Cynthia Barnes-Boyd took over the role of Director of OCENHP. Prior to joining Office of Community and Neighborhood Health Partnerships (previously called Neighborhoods Initiative), Dr. Boyd served as UIC Director of Community Health and her work centered predominantly on the West side medical campus. Dr. Boyd subsequently joined her projects on the west side with the current east side projects, resulting in staff and offices on both ends of campus, in the College of Nursing and Great Cities Institute, respectively. Nacho Gonzalez ran the OCENHP office at GCI focusing on community and economic development. OCENHP has received more than 35 grants totaling more than $13.8 million from federal, state and foundation sources for its innovative and comprehensive approach to neighborhood development, institutional commitments and university-community-government partnerships. OCENHP has also received local and national recognition for achievement.
Presently there are 24 active community research and service projects involving OCENHP faculty, students, and staff, and CBOs, FBOs, schools, business, and health and social service organizations in Chicago neighborhoods, including Chicago Partnership for Health Promotion and Illinois ResourceNet, among other projects.
Since 1993, OCENHP has approached its work with communities as an opportunity to build partnerships. OCENHP's work with neighborhood groups incorporates established principles of community organizing and relationship building; OCENHP creates innovative partnerships and projects that are beneficial for the university community (faculty, scholars, and research assistants) as well as for the external community.
OCENHP programs combine resources of numerous UIC units and colleges (housing and economic development, education, transportation and health) and typically include technical assistance in program development and implementation, applied research, and formal evaluations of ongoing community programs. To help guide the various projects, OCENHP created two advisory boards (collectively called the Partners Council), one to advise the Community Health Division and one for community and economic development programs.
Focusing on the needs of the communities it serves, OCENHP programs have targeted a wide variety of areas and issues. Past programs included the creation of Community Technology Centers in the Near West Side to provide open access to Internet resources, computer-skills training and career-related information to low-income residents. Additionally, past OCENHP programs have sought to increase access to vital medical and health services as well as encourage literacy and creativity in an effort to enhance the complete well being of area residents.
As OCENHP continues to grow within the communities it serves, current programs ha expanded to include the comprehensive New Directions program, addressing affordable and accessible housing, community outreach, employment, project institutionalization and non-profit organization development. Additionally, OCENHP is working in conjunction with University of Illinois Extension to provide customized technical assistance in funding development to non-profits and local government entities through Illinois ResourceNet. OCENHP also continues to address issues related to health and nutrition through the Chicago Partnership for Health Promotion (CPHP), CEED, and the Greater Englewood Healthy Start Initiative (GEHSI). Other programs support work in mental health, education and preservation, and developing mutually supportive relationships within community centers of faith.
For details about all of OCENHP's current and completed programs, please click on the corresponding links to the left. As we continue to grow and new programs are developed, information will be added to this page.