Civic Engagement Certificate Program students complete capstone projects

Students in the Civic Engagement Certificate Program are nearing completion of capstone projects that have been in progress since fall quarter. The cohort completed three credits of coursework last year before fielding project proposals and committing to a team for the duration of this year. Four projects were ultimately adopted, and the groups are now finalizing deliverables and preparing to share accomplishments at an end-of-year poster session.

Two groups partnered with the Salt & Light Coalition, a nonprofit dedicated to empowering survivors of sex trafficking through education, workforce development, and personal autonomy. One team created and refined educational materials used in the program curriculum, on topics including yoga, nutrition, and healing, to make them more interactive and engaging and improve information retention. The other team designed a volunteer management interface and created profiles of volunteers to help the Salt & Light Coalition advertise and improve the volunteer experience.

Another Chicago-based organization, Literacy Works, partnered with students to give a ‘face’ to the organization’s work and better communicate the impact of their adult literacy promotion and communication equity initiatives. Students conducted interviews with adult literacy professionals and partner organizations to develop personal narratives and success stories that could be shared via social media and throughout the broader community.

The final capstone team, with a national focus, aided the Death Row Support Project (DRSP) in its efforts to connect death row inmates to community members through a pen pal program and to expand its work into the death penalty abolition space. Students established connections with other death penalty abolition organizations and created content, strategy, and training materials for social media to broaden the organization’s network and impact.

The completion of these projects marks the end of the Certificate for this cohort. Between the capstone year and first year projects with community partners Citizens Utility Board and Indivisible Evanston, students learned critical skills and strategies for creating positive social change, and are more prepared to engage in public interest work beyond the program.