Engage Chicago

University Community Service Center (UCSC)

Students looking to engage with Chicago will find one-stop shopping at UCSC

UCSC offers:

  • Volunteer Referral
  • Support for Student Organizations
  • Days of Service
  • Summer Links Internships
  • Off-Campus Work-Study Jobs
  • Leadership Development for Students
  • Ongoing Service Programs

UCSC Mission

The University Community Service Center fosters the development of civic-minded students by providing substantive community service opportunities through community partnerships based on mutual trust and respect.

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Tutoring & Mentoring

Many students use their academic skills and life experience with local communities. You can:

  • Tutor elementary students in reading and math
  • Mentor local youth, helping them prepare for college
  • Help an adult learn to read
  • Work one-on-one with an adult learning English as a Second Language

Tutoring and Mentoring Opportunities

There are great organizations near campus and around the city that need tutors and mentors – the list below is just a start.

Neighborhood Schools Program (NSP)

Location: Office is on campus; schools are throughout the surrounding neighborhoods

Transportation: For sites beyond walking distance, NSP offers van transportation to and from schools

Website: http://nsp.uchicago.edu

Opportunities: Classroom support and tutoring for all grades at schools throughout the area.

Gary Comer Youth Center

Location: 71st and Ingleside

Transportion: #4 bus

Contact: 773.358.4100

Opportunity: Tutoring for 1, 2, or 3-hour periods Monday through Thursday, 3-6 pm.

Gads Hill Center

Location: 1919 W. Cullerton – in Pilsen Neighborhood

Transportation: Pink Line

Phone: 312.226.0963, ext. 286

Opportunities: Volunteers are needed as E.S.L. (English as a Second Language) tutors, to help with after-school programs in drama and music, health, sports, and journalism, and as tutors/mentors for kids ages 12-18.

STRIVE Tutoring

Location: 5001 S. Ellis

Transportation: Walking distance

Contact: Lizzy Boosalis, strivetutoring@sbcglobal.net

Opportunity: Tutoring for grades 1-12. Mon. 6:30-8:00, Tues.-Fri. 3:00-5:00, and Sat. 10:00-noon.

Washington Park Youth Program

Location: On campus

Phone: 312.565.0257, ext. 223

Commitment: Two hours per week for most programs, one time general training session required of new volunteers

Opportunities: Both weekly and weekend reading, tutoring, and mentoring programs for kids pre-K through high school.

Don’t see what you’re looking for? Contact the University Community Service Center to find the perfect opportunity for you.

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Student Organizations

Service is the mission of more than 40 Community Service Recognized Student OrganizationsCSRSOs that work with partners throughout the Chicago area.

You can:

  • build houses with Habitat for Humanity
  • tutor youth on campus in the Washington Park Youth Program
  • mentor middle school girls in Little Village with W.Y.S.E.
  • join UofC’s First Responder Corps
  • coach local high school debate clubs

And that’s just a taste of what’s possible!

Click here for a list of CSRSOs and resources for student groups doing service – including access to funding, transportation, and organizational support.

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Neighborhood Organizations

There are numerous ways to connect with organizations throughout the city. But many students choose to volunteer in nearby neighborhoods. Below is a list of just some of the organizations that welcome student volunteers and are located within walking distance of campus.

Volunteer Referral Program

Make an appointment with the University Community Service Center's Volunteer Referral Program, which works to match University of Chicago students with a opportunites that meet their skills, interests, and availability. 

Local Organizations Looking for Volunteers

There are great organizations near campus and around the city that need tutors and mentors. The list below is just a start.

First Presbyterian Church

Location: 6400 S. Kimbark

Transportation: bus / walking distance from south campus

Phone: 773.363.0505

Opportunities: Volunteers are needed for Preschool/After School program for children up to 6th grade, a hot meal program and 3 food distribution programs, maintaining the outdoor community gardens and greenhouse, and the youth program with a gym.

Hyde Park Food Pantry

Location: 56th and Woodlawn

Contact: Marlene Vellinga or Jay Mulberry

Phone: 773.363.0242 / 773.288.1242

Opportunity: Volunteers are needed to: (1) help unload groceries for the First Food Pantry at Hyde Park Union Church on the first Tuesday morning of each month; and (2) help with food distribution every Saturday morning.

Jackson Park Advisory Council Environmental Stewardship Program

Location: 6401 S. Stony Island

Opportunity: JPAC has volunteer workdays (10 am to 1 pm) on the second and fourth Saturday of each month, April through November. Volunteers remove invasive plants and help to maintain restored natural areas.

La Rabida Children’s Hospital

Location: 65th at the Lake

Transportation: La Rabida Shuttle from the University Medical Center

Contact: Judi Blakemore

Phone: 773.363.6700, ext. 5985

Email: jblakemore@larabida.org

Opportunities: Work with children in a variety of programs weekdays and weekends.

Little Black Pearl

Location: 1060 E. 47th

Transportation: Walking distance

Phone: 773.385.1211

Opportunities: Afternoon Tutoring for high school aged students in a variety of subjects.

The Living Room Café

Location: 6422 S. Cottage Grove

Transportation: Cottage Grove bus / walking distance from south campus

Phone: 773.643.6018, ext. 204

Opportunities: The Living Room Cafe is a not-for-profit organization which welcomes homeless men, women, and children of South Side Chicago’s Woodlawn Community with nourishment and resources into an atmosphere of caring and respect. Volunteers assist in preparing and serving meals, cleaning, and computer training programs.

STRIVE Tutoring

Location: 5001 S. Ellis

Transportation: Walking distance

Contact: strivetutoring@sbcglobal.net

Opportunity: Tutoring for grades 1-12. Mon 6:30-8:00, Tues-Fri 3:00-5:00, and Sat 10:00-noon.

University of Chicago Medical Center

Location: On campus
Phone: 773.702.4421
Website: www.uchospitals.edu/volunteer.html
Opportunities: Playing with children in the Children’s Playroom, cuddling newborn babies, companionship for adult patients, distributing books and magazines, assisting hospital staff with computer projects and clerical work, assisting families in the Surgery Waiting lounge, advocacy for sexual assault survivors.

Washington Park Youth Program

Location: On campus and Washington Park Fieldhouse

Phone: 312.565.0257, ext. 223

Commitment: Two hours per week for most programs, one time general training session required of new volunteers

Opportunities: Both weekly and weekend reading, tutoring, and mentoring programs for kids pre-K through high school

For a listing of these and other local community organizations, visit the Hyde Park/Kenwood Community Conference.

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Off-Campus Work Study

Get Paid Well for Doing Good!

Many Chicago nonprofit and public organizations are eager to employ students who are Work-Study eligible. Work-Study students recently have:

  • Worked at a local after-school program within walking distance from campus
  • Participated in research studies of children’s literacy development
  • Helped an organization create stronger outreach and advocacy materials


Working in nearby neighborhoods you can:

  • Support community organizations
  • Interact with local residents
  • Gain valuable experience and skills


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University of Chicago Public Interest Fellowship Program

The University of Chicago Public Interest Program (UCPIP) places College graduates in one-year fellowships at public interest organizations around Chicago. Fellows are full-time employees of their host organizations for one year, during which they carry out meaningful and substantive public interest work.

UCPIP is an alumni-directed program of the University of Chicago, supported by the Alumni Association, the College, the University Community Service Center, Career Advising & Planning Services, the School of Social Service Administration, and other programs & offices.

Visit the UCPIP website for more information or to get involved as a Fellow, Partner Organization or alumni volunteer.

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Neighborhood Schools Program

The University founded the Neighborhood Schools Program (NSP) over thirty years ago to support schoolchildren and their teachers in local elementary and high schools.

Through NSP, 400 University of Chicago students assist in school classrooms, community centers, and governmental offices.

Working in over fifty program sites, NSP students provide individual and group tutoring, assist in classroom instruction, and support community development. This work can make a lasting, positive impact on the lives of children and their families in nearby neighborhoods.

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Civic Knowledge Project

The Civic Knowledge Project (CKP) is the community connections branch of the Division of the Humanities at the University of Chicago. CKP’s mission is to develop and strengthen community connections, helping to overcome the social, economic, and racial divisions among the various knowledge communities on the South Side of Chicago.

The Civic Knowledge Project provides an extraordinary array of ways for students to learn more about their city and to get involved in actively working to make it a better place, advancing the forms of civic friendship that matter most. The CKP offers opportunities to students with diverse interests, including:

  • Researching and recording the rich history of Chicago’s South Side
  • Helping to support the arts and humanities in the communities surrounding the University
  • Working in the local public schools to foster the verbal arts of philosophical conversation and debate
  • Collaborating with local activists and organizers to create a greener and more sustainable South Side
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