From the Director

FWP Civic Engagement Fair & Humanities Festival Information

posted Jul 27, 2017, 1:52 PM by L Williams

A few people have asked when the Civic Engagement Fair will be held. It will be Wednesday, Sept. 2710:00-11:40 (It is on the Blue Calendar).  
Also, you may be interested in the Chicago Humanities Foundation Summit: Speech and Privilege.  It's this Saturday.  You can watch from your own home, as it will be streamed over Facebook. I pasted the information below.
All the best,
The 2017 Chicago Humanities Summit: Speech and Privilege is this 
Saturday, July 29! Even if you're unable to attend the summit in person, we'll be streaming all three sessions via Facebook Live over on our page.

Join us for conversations featuring Anne-Marie Slaughter of the New American Foundation, David Cole, National Legal Director for the ACLU, Suzanne Nossel of PEN America, two-time national Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey, University of Chicago President Robert Zimmer, among other leaders from the public and academic sectors for a wide-ranging series of conversations about the state of free speech in today's society. 

Sessions will cover Speech and Campus Life (12 - 2:15 PM), Speech and Imagination (3 - 4 PM), and the Fate of Free Speech (4:30 - 5:30 PM)*.

Make sure to like CHF on Facebook at to receive updates and more info in the days leading up to the Summit.

Whether it's in-person or online, we hope you'll join us for this important conversation at a crucial juncture for this country.

Still hoping to attend the Summit in-person? Call the CHF Box Office at (312) 494-9509to join the wait list.

Charter Humanists receive VIP access to the Summit with an RSVP. Call the CHF Box Office to reserve your place.

*All times Central

Opportunities for teachers - Mikva Challenge, Chicago Freedom School, Facing History and Ourselves + community partners

posted Jul 27, 2017, 1:49 PM by L Williams   [ updated Jul 27, 2017, 1:49 PM ]

Here are some terrific upcoming professional development opportunities for teachers of all grades (please scroll down).
To support civic learning in classes as well as individual student projects, we are planning a Civic Engagement Fair for September.  We are inviting organizations on the Civic Engagement partner list; please let us know if there are other organizations you'd like us to include.  
We also welcome hearing from you about projects you're interested in developing in the coming year -- we are excited to support you!
Shanti and Lisa

Facing History and Ourselves: Upcoming Workshops

Our workshops are offered both in-person and online. In-person workshops last anywhere from 2 hours to 1-3 days, whereas online workshops typically last 3-5 days. Pricing can vary from workshop to workshop, with some events being free and others requiring registration fees. Look for these details within individual event listings.


  • 16
    Facing History for Non-Humanities Educators
  • 17
    Planning Your Facing History Unit
  • 19
    From Bystander to Upstander
  • 28
    My Part of the Story

"I gained the strategic tools and communication skills to spread awareness of Adultism. I recognize that a major shift in cultural perspective needs to happen to empower youth. “

- Adultism training participant

The Chicago Freedom School offers a variety of trainings for adults, youth, and intergenerational audiences. All trainings are rooted in anti-oppression practices and designed in a movement-building framework. CFS hosts in-house trainings that are open to the public as well as customized trainings for schools, organizations, houses of worship, and other groups.  All trainings are led by CFS staff members with experience facilitating professional development for staff, youth groups, and intergenerational audiences. 

To schedule a training for your organization, please contact us directly or complete this Training Request Form.

For more information contact our Training Coordinator, Xavier Maatra, at 312-435-1201, or

Upcoming Workshops

Saturday, August 19, 10a-4p - Social Justice Practice Series - Smashing White Supremacy

This workshop is a strategy and reflection session for people of color to explore the myth of white supremacy and its psychological, cultural, social, and economic impacts on their lives. Sliding Scale: $15-$35


Tuesday August 29, 6p-9p -  Over the Rainbow: Understanding the Intersections of Sexuality & Gender

This is an LGBT 101 training designed to empower participants with tools to engage in introductory conversations about gender and sexuality that support their ability to be critical, conscious, and culturally aware professionals within diverse working environments. Participants will use popular education to briefly explore: LGBT terms and definitions, LGBT youth homelessness, violence against trans woman of color, and issues in employment and healthcare access for trans and queer identified people. Sliding Scale: $15-$35


Wednesday, September 13, 6p-9p - Community Organizing Series: Fundamental Organizing Skills

Join us to gain skills that sharpen your knowledge and ability to be an effective organizer and campaign supporter. Participants will examine the elements of successful campaigns and learn tools for analyzing power, framing issues, and base building. Sliding scale: $15-$35. Dinner provided. 


Wednesday September 27, 6p-9p - Community Organizing Series: Strategy and Campaign Development

Actions are but one part of effective community organizing. Essential to successful organizing are concrete strategies rooted in well-framed issues. This session is designed for participants with a range of organizing experiences to develop common language and skills for innovative organizing. Participants will explore tactics to strengthen their ability to develop and adapt long term organizing strategies and campaigns. Sliding scale: $15-$35. Dinner provided


Saturday September 30, 1p-4p - Radical Youth Work Series: Understanding Adultism

Explore strategies to build strong youth-adult partnerships for youth-led social change. Co-facilitated by young people. Sliding Scale: $15-$35


Saturday, October 14, 1p-4p - Radical Youth Work Series: Navigating the Grey Zone

Participants will learn skills to navigate boundaries while supporting young people's social and emotional health. Using engaging activities, participants will explore positive youth development and harm reduction strategies for creating a healthy youth culture within organizations and programs. Sliding Scale: $15-$35


Wednesday, October 18 6p-9p- Community Organizing Series: Popular Education Facilitation

In this session participants will explore the fundamentals of popular education and how to use it as a tool for organizing across multiple issues. Sliding scale: $15-$35. Dinner provided. 


Saturday October 28, 1p-4p - Social Justice Practice Series: Identity, Power & Oppression

Develop practices to name, interrupt and transform oppression in communities, workplaces, schools, and day to day interactions. Sliding Scale: $15-35


Saturdays, December 2 and 9, 1p-5p - Social Justice Practice Series: Organizing Strategies for Black Liberation

This workshop promotes dialogue and critical analysis of social movements of the late 20th and early 21st century and their impact on the black freedom struggle in America. Individuals 23 and younger free. Sliding Scale: $15-$50. Dinner provided. 

Rev Up Training Institute

October 5-8, 2017

Young people are leading dynamic and important social change in schools and communities across the country. CFS is partnering with the University of Chicago M.Ed. in Youth Development Program to offer a multi-day training institute for youth organizers, teachers, and youth workers who are interested in exploring ideas and building strategies to incorporate social justice practices into their work. Rev Up features workshops led by some of the most innovative youth development organizations in Chicago and provides opportunities to build strong professional networks to support youth-led social change. 


click here for information and registration

White Folks and Racial Justice 3-part series

Fall 2017 Dates TBD

This workshop is a space for white people committed to anti-racist practices to collectively reflect and build strategies that interrupt systems of white supremacy and actively challenge racism as a barrier to multiracial movement building. Using interactive activities and discussion, we will reflect on our own lives, learn about anti-racist freedom fighters and explore counter-narrative histories of resistance.  We will also explore the prison industrial complex and prison abolition. Lunch and light breakfast included. 

Location: will be sent to program participants

Exploring anti-racism frameworks, language & history

In this workshop, participants will strengthen an understanding of how identity, power and oppression interact and how one's own identity fits into systems of power and oppression. We will also examine the history of anti-black racism in the US and the roles and strategies of white anti-racist freedom fighters. 

Building anti-racist practice at an interpersonal level

Building off of the first workshop, this session continues to unpack systems of privilege and power. We will discuss how systems of white supremacy impact our own lives and impact how we act in relationship with others. Using role plays, we will discuss how racism can show up between individuals and how we can interrupt.

 Building anti-racist practice within social movement work

This final session will focus on developing anti-racist practice within our communities and institutions, as well as help us collectively identify the potential role of white anti-racist practices in movement building. We will explore history of resistance movements and how white anti-racists stood in solidarity with people of color in order to make connections to present-day strategies for anti-racist coalition building. 

This workshop is offered on a sliding scale.  Discounts and scholarships are available. 

Please inquire at 312-435-1201.

Training Menu

Do you want CFS to facilitate a workshop or professional development training at your organization or school? We offer a variety of options. Please contact us for more information. 


Understanding Adultism  Understand adultism as a form of oppression and learn how to become an effective adult ally.

Anti-oppression Practices within Education  Develop an anti-oppression analysis and anti-oppression practices as educators.

Leadership & identity development  A Positive Youth Development model designed to support youth in their development as social change leaders and movement builders.

REV UP  Chicago Freedom School's four-day training institute for youth organizers and youth workers who are interested in exploring how to incorporate social change approaches into their work.


Anti-oppression Approaches and Movement History

Recognizing Identity, Power, and Oppression  Explore different aspects of identity and the relationship between identity and oppression. Participants will reflect on their own identity and develop anti-oppression practices that will help them be allies to oppressed people.

White Folks and Racial Justice  A day of training for white people interested in understanding the concepts of white privilege, white supremacy, and learning how to become a responsible white ally.

LGBTQ 101  Develop a greater understanding of sexual orientation and gender identity. Participants will reflect on their own identities, and consider the oppression faced by LGBTQ people.

Movement History  Learn about past movements for social change and their connection to today's social justice issues.

Legacy of Freedom Schools  Explore the history of Freedom Schools and their impact on today's Education for Liberation Movement.



Campaign Development  Learn the steps to developing and supporting youth led campaigns.

Coalition Building  This workshop explores different concepts and models for coalition building and what to consider before entering alliances with others to work towards shared social justice goals.

Action Planning  Learn the skills and tools for planning effective protests, rallies, marches, and events to support community organizing and campaign development.



Understanding Adultism  Via a web based presentation, understand adultism as a form of oppression and learn how to become an effective adult ally.

Navigating the Grey Zone  Learn skills to navigate boundaries while supporting young people in meeting their social and emotional needs via a web based presentation.

It's that time again! Apply to participate in Mikva Challenge's classroom-based programming for the 2017-2018. The online application form is here

By participating, teachers get: 
  • One-on-one support from Mikva Challenge staff member, who provide technical and curricular assistance in person (class visits), and through email and phone
  • Opportunities for students to participate in special events, such as the Project Soapbox Citywide Competition, Action Civics Showcase, and various youth issues forums. 
  • Workshops, trainings, teacher dinners, and professional development opportunities (professional development credits available)
  • Access to the new Mikva Action Civics Network, an online platform where teachers can view and download Mikva lessons, see sample student action civics projects, and connect with other teachers who "do Mikva Challenge" at their schools. 
This application is for teachers in Chicago who are interested in participating in MikvaChallenge programming.

Parker Students Join Public Health Research Team

posted Jul 11, 2017, 1:47 PM by L Williams   [ updated Jul 11, 2017, 1:47 PM ]

By Director of Civic Engagement Shanti Elliott

Nine Parker students have been engaged this year in a public health research project, guided by Northwestern University graduate students working with Parker parent Dr. Ruchi Gupta and sponsored by Upper School Science teachers Bridget Lesinski and Leslie Webster. The students—Wilson Cedillo ’20, Anjali Chandel ’20, Nicole Feitler ’20, Rohan Jain ’20, Avani Kalra ’20, Octavio Lopez ’18, Isabel Olesinski ’20, Beatrice Turner ’19 and Caroline Viravec ’19—all have a special interest in careers in medicine. They have been meeting weekly with the Northwestern students on a joint project focused on community-engaged health research called SOAAR: Science and Outcomes of Asthma and food Allergy Research. The students conducted surveys and in-depth interviews at Parker and in other Chicago communities, analyzed data and are now working on PSAs (Public Service Announcements) to educate other young people on important health issues.

In addition to in-school research and PSA projects, the students visited a health fair at Nicholson STEM Academy in Englewood on April 19, sharing public health resources and interviewing community members about community health concerns. Viravec expressed appreciation for the generosity of those attending the health fair who shared their experiences: “People really opened up to us, even though we had just met them.” In their blog post, Learning Is a Two-Way Street, the Northwestern students noted, “Through these conversations, the [Parker] students learned about existing community-based factors and resources that improve and worsen these health conditions. Some of the conditions that parents and students often reported were obesity, allergies and asthma, so we were glad to share our resources with them.”

On Tuesday, May 16, the group took another field trip, this time to Lurie Children’s Hospital, to learn from public health researchers about the framework and the practice of public health. For both this trip and the previous one, members of the Young Women in Science group and Lesinski joined Webster and the SOAAR group of Parker students and Northwestern graduate students. The students toured the hospital and hear from researchers and public health professionals about the importance of moving from an individualized understanding of health to a systems approach. They explained that many doctors and nurses “want to go upstream,” not just treat patients, but focus on what is causing health epidemics such as gun violence. They started projects like Strengthening Chicago’s Youth (SCY) and the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children (CLOCC) to address environmental factors that contribute to public health issues. Segregation, the researchers emphasized, is the primary health hazard in Chicago.

The Parker students appreciate how the public health framework helps them understand systemic injustice. Jain pointed to disparities he has learned about through this project: “We found that Parker students’ health concerns were mostly about food allergies and mental health. And in Englewood, there was more asthma and diabetes. There’s more research going toward health issues that affect higher-income communities, and that needs to change.” Read more from Jain on this experience here.

Students are working on a final project focusing on creating more awareness of a particular public health concern. Obesity, asthma and diabetes are some of the topics that students are working on.

Big thanks to the wonderful Northwestern graduate student team, Dr. Gupta, Ms. Webster, Ms. Lesinski, Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Lurie Children’s Hospital for creating this powerful educational opportunity for our students!

Taking a Stand: Parker Upper Schoolers Participate in Chicago Metro History Fair, Mikva Civics Showcase

posted Jul 11, 2017, 1:43 PM by L Williams

Taking a Stand: Parker Upper Schoolers Participate in Chicago Metro History Fair, 
Mikva Civics Showcase

By Director of Civic Engagement Shanti Elliott

Every year, thousands of Chicago students focus on local history, politics and culture as part of civic education initiatives designed to develop and connect students’ capacities as active citizens who think critically. During the course of the year, classroom projects arising from students’ interests and concerns evolve into artifacts that educate the public about myriad dimensions of civic life. As Chicago Metro History Fair organizers note, “Inquiry-based learning of history is a civic activity itself.”

The research process culminates in year-end public events that showcase students’ questions, findings, action and leadership. These events offer important opportunities for Parker students to, as Principal Dan Frank urges us, “bring the outside in and the inside out.” Not only are students researching and presenting on important civic questions, they are also learning from their Chicago peers through the projects they present at these events.

This spring, students in Sue Elliott’s History class participated in the Chicago Metro History Fair, which focused on the theme “Taking a Stand in Chicago/Illinois History.” In class, students chose topics that were important to them and conducted research outside school, making use of interviews with scholars, experts and participants or witnesses. Students decided on their own interpretations of their research: as the CMHF organizers explain, “They don’t just ‘report back’ what others have written.” Finally, the students choose “how to present their historical arguments through real projects just as real historians do: writing papers, producing a play or documentary, or building a website or exhibit.”

Three sophomores—Sarah-Jayne Austin, Audrey Shadle and Alexandra Takoudis—were finalists and went on to compete at the Chicago Metro Fair. Sophomore Felicia Miller received an honorable mention. Sarah-Jayne wrote about female activism in Great Britain and Illinois at the turn of the century; Audrey compared the careers of Touissaint L’Overture and Barack Obama; and Alexandra wrote about the Comfort Women of South Korea. The CMHF website features the students and their projects, along with student winners from schools throughout Chicago.

Ms. Elliott supported Parker students’ involvement as well as the whole Metro History Fair process by serving as a judge. Thanks to Ms. Elliott and her students, Parker was able to be part of a significant civic process of history-making.

On May 23, four Parker students, accompanied by History teacher Jeanne Barr and me, presented at the 15th Annual Action Civics Showcase, the year-end celebration of youth activism and youth voice in Chicago. Parker students joined students from schools around Chicago, presenting to each other, their teachers and civic leaders about issues that matter to them. As Mikva Challenge leaders share, “Young people are analyzing power, taking on the role of being leaders on issues impacting their lives, to make a positive difference in their communities.”

Sophomore Carlos Lopez and Junior Karoli Esparza presented about their efforts launching LASO, Latin American Students Organization, and invited students from other schools to join them in LASO activities and campaigns.. Grace Buono and Maya Sanghvi presented on behalf of the 11th grade Civic Lab group “Migration Stories,” with a focus on Expanded Sanctuary in Chicago. They gathered signatures on the Welcoming Cities Ordinance petition.

Congratulations to the student activists, scholars and leaders who participated in these and other powerful civic events in Chicago!

Civic Engagement Summer Opportunities!

posted Jun 22, 2017, 8:50 AM by L Williams

Happy Summer!

Do you have some free time? Are you looking for meaningful opportunities to be involved in the city?  Are you interested in developing new interests, abilities, and friendships? This is just the time to get started!

Here are a few suggestions.  More resources are on the Civic Engagement website.  Please contact us if you would like more information or support for your civic engagement this summer.


Most of our partner organizations are running summer programs and they welcome volunteers!  Please let one of us know if you’d like help making contact.

For a much more extensive, searchable volunteering database, Chicago Cares is super helpful. Check it out!


Over the summer we continue to keep the public events calendar running.  We are highlighting below a few events you may want to participate in.

Standing Against Violence: Chicago Vigil #JusticeForNabra

Thu, June 22, 6pm – 8pm

Federal Center and Plaza, 219 S Dearborn St

Opening Reception: Bold Disobedience

Fri, June 23, 5pm – 8pm (exhibit will run through Sept. 2)

Weinberg/Newton Gallery 300 West Superior, Suite 203

Bold Disobedience is a group exhibition presented in collaboration with Mikva Challenge. Selected by a council of twelve student curators, this collection of works demonstrates myriad social issues that matter to youths today. The exhibition comprises works by local professional artists as well as student artists from the The Chicago High School for the Arts. These artworks grapple with the issues that our team of student curators have deemed most critical in our conflicted contemporary culture, promoting racial justice, economic equity, and queer rights. The student curators have directed every aspect of this exhibition, from research to conceptualization to installation. As the exhibition title that the students

chose, Bold Disobedience, wryly hints at – to obey today is to do nothing, to comply, to float along on the current of the status quo, to let digitally delivered distractions wash over us until we can no longer discern the motivating machinations behind them. Instead, Bold Disobedience is a call to participate in civic action, to identify and speak out against injustices, and to disrupt the systems that so deeply impact lived experiences. Within such a beautiful sense of efficacy amongst young people lies the promise of a more sustainable future. More details about the exhibition and related programming:

 Parker contingent in Gay Pride Parade: register here!


Young Chicago Authors Write to the City Program

Or Tzedek Teen Social Justice Summer Program

Finally, Chicago continues to celebrate the 100th birthday celebration of great Chicago poet Gwendolyn Brooks.  If you’re interested in contributing a poem in honor of her, go to this site.  Send it by tomorrow and you may win a prize also!

Have a wonderful Summer!

Summer Reading

posted Jun 22, 2017, 8:48 AM by L Williams   [ updated Jun 22, 2017, 8:49 AM ]

Best Summer Reads

from Teaching for Change: 

Want even more???
Check out:

Who's Got Next

posted May 26, 2017, 9:16 AM by L Williams   [ updated Jun 22, 2017, 8:46 AM ]

I thought you might enjoy this Chicago Magazine piece that includes Bridget Gainer, who spoke here in MX a couple of weeks ago.  Many of these folks would be great speakers in classrooms of all ages!
Have a glorious Memorial Day weekend!
p.s. A propos of Memorial Day, I also want to share with you New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu's powerful speech on the removal of Confederate monuments.

Nikki Finney: A Louder Call for Truth and Justice

posted May 11, 2017, 7:34 AM by L Williams   [ updated Jun 21, 2017, 12:38 PM ]

Here are the resounding words of Nikki Finney, Parker's 2014 visiting poet, framing the Bethune-Cookman students' graduating act of resistance: A Louder Call for Truth and Justice. Her illumination of this historic moment also casts light on the power of educators to have the backs of brave young people with our words, our perspective, our belief. 
with much respect, 

Youth Leadership Opportunity

posted May 3, 2017, 2:26 PM by L Williams   [ updated May 3, 2017, 2:26 PM ]

Here's another amazing opportunity, Students! Application deadline is May 19!

Youth Leadership Opportunity
The Student Voice and Activism Fellowship aims to provide young people with the skills, resources, and support to be heard in the decision-making process that impacts their lives.  By partnering with the University of Chicago and the Black Youth Project, we are able to offer a yearlong program that consists of two components: a summer paid internship and ongoing meetings and events throughout the school year.

APPLY ONLINE HERE - Deadline: Friday, May 19th

Student Voice and Activism Fellowship - Summer Internship 2017
Dates: Monday, July 26 - Friday, August 1
Times: Monday - Friday, 10:00am - 3:00pm
Location: University of Chicago
Stipend Amount: $600 

Additional Summer Opportunities

posted May 2, 2017, 12:20 PM by L Williams   [ updated May 2, 2017, 12:21 PM ]

We continue to update summer opportunities that you might be interested in.  Be sure to scroll down.  One Summer Chicago deadline is MAY 15!

We also update events you might want to attend.  Several events next week are at Parker:

Finally, check out this amazing opportunity at Free Street Theater! No preparation required for tonight'saudition.

  • clock
    Today at 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM
    Starts in about 5 hours · 46° Cloudy
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    Free Street Theater
    1419 West Blackhawk Street, 3rd Floor of the Pulaski Park Field House, Chicago, Illinois 60642

This summer, Free Street rolls out (literally!) a new performance that celebrates joy, resilience, and every day miracles in Chicago. Based on stories collected all around the city, Los Milagros/The Miracles is a modern day pageant wagon play performed on modifed Radio Flyer wagons. Often funny, always celebratory, Los Milagros/The Miracles asks how every day people are surviving hard times.

We are currently looking for collaborators of all ages to join the creative team that will develop this project over the next four months. Previous experience with theater or writing is not necessary. We are looking for people who want to develop their skills as storytellers, writers, facilitators, and performers. Above all, we are seeking collaborators with diverse points of view, who are comfortable working in neighborhoods across the city and who are invested in a politics of liberation. This is a four-month commitment with some modest pay, and lots of space to build, create and connect. 

Auditions are Tuesday, May 2nd from 6:30 to 8:30pm. You do not have to prepare anything in advance, but you should plan to stay for the whole time - this is a workshop style audition where we will play, write, and talk together. Orientation for the project is Saturday, May 13th at 10am. Performances are July 24 and 27August 1, 11, and 18. Rehearsals will be scheduled with the creative team.

For more information, contact Artistic Director Coya Paz at

Please let me know if you have questions or other suggested posts!
S. Elliott

On Mon, May 1, 2017 at 8:06 AM, Shanti Elliott <> wrote:
Good Morning, Students!
Happy May Day!
Below is a quick reminder of the CFS fellowship -- note extended deadline!  Please see me if you have questions.
Also, today is the last day to apply for this free great coding camp opportunity.
And, if you want information about Chicago May Day today, here's the main website.  
All the best,
S. Elliott

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Chicago Freedom School <>
Date: Mon, May 1, 2017 at 6:06 AM
Subject: Deadline Extended! Applications for the Freedom Fellowship due May 6th!

"The revolution has always been in the hands of the young." 

-Huey P. Newton, co-founder of the Black Panther Party

Young people ages 14-17 who identify as Asian, Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Middle Eastern, multiracial and/or youth of color...

Are you passionate about social justice?

Are you looking for tools to make positive change in your community?

Do you want to build diverse friendships and a family with like-minded peers and supportive adults? 

Do you want to develop your voice, skills, and power to fight injustice? 

Join Chicago Freedom School's 


Applications due May 6, 2017

During the Fellowship, you will....
  • Learn about the history of social movements
  • Study current issues like racism, access to healthy food, school to prison pipeline, sexism, heterosexism, violence and peacemaking, climate change, and more
  • Develop leadership and community organizing skills
  • Design and lead action to make change in schools and communities
  • Go on an overnight Healing Retreat
  • Make friends and have fun!
For more information contact Tony, (office) 312.435.1201 or

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