The Neighborhood Schools Program was founded in 1976 by the University of Chicago Office of Civic Engagement (then, the Office of Community Affairs). From the beginning, our mission has been to engage the community in impactful ways, mostly by facilitating partnerships between University of Chicago students and our local schools to help them strengthen their ability to meet the needs of schoolchildren on the South Side. The Founding Director of the Neighborhood Schools Program, Duel Richardson, served in that role from 1976–2010. He was succeeded in 2010 by Shaz Rasul, who himself is a former NSP student (1995–1997).
University of Chicago students gain valuable skills through their NSP placements while enriching their own understanding of how the urban education system functions. In the course of their work with our partner sites, they become integral members of the community in the schools and classrooms, and they serve as near-peer mentors and role models for younger students.
Today, NSP continues to serve as one of the primary connectors between the University of Chicago and our surrounding communities. NSP is a key support system for local schools and other institutions that support the general citizenry, providing tutoring to school children, teaching assistance to public school teachers, and administrative support to community organizations. During the 2015-2016 academic year, 400 University students worked or volunteered in the community through NSP.
NSP has a wonderful partnership with Jumpstart – a national nonprofit – going strong for 6+ years now. One of the strengths of University of Chicago students are their diverse interests and willingness to try new things! One of the things we’ve looked for in our non-school community partners is the degree to which they are bringing some kind of training, unique perspective, or relationships that can help develop our students’ capacity to make a positive impact in the world and enable them to contribute in areas that they couldn’t without the partnership.