Since 1989 Illinois Institute of Technology has built community relations, engaged residents and business owners, and spearheaded economic development initiatives within the world-renowned Bronzeville community of Chicago. Illinois Tech remains committed to the Bronzeville community and continues to be an active partner in its revitalization.
Prior to being the Office of Community Affairs and Outreach Programs, the office was known as Illinois Tech's Community Relations Department. The formal connection between Illinois Tech and Bronzeville began in 1989, when the institution established its Community Relations Department through a grant from the James S. Kemper Foundation.
The priority then—as it remains now—is to build formal relationships and partnerships between Illinois Tech, local community-based organizations, businesses, and Chicago Public Schools, as well as the surrounding Chicago community areas.
With a general focus on shoring up education opportunities and amplifying art and culture, as well as stimulating economic development, the Office of Community Affairs and Outreach Programs aims to be the connective tissue linking the Illinois Tech community—faculty, students, and staff—with the organizations, businesses, and individuals looking to make a positive change in Bronzeville and in the surrounding communities on the South Side.
Alicia Bunton has 17-plus years of experience as an administrator of community-based programs for underserved populations, including the homeless, mentally ill, chemically dependent, and people living with HIV/AIDS. She is a dynamic community planner and leader who has chaired planning groups convened by the City of Chicago and served on national boards. Bunton received a Golden Trumpet Award for outstanding achievement in community relations and the prestigious Edwin J. Shaughnessy Quality of Life Award from the Publicity Club of Chicago. She has since transitioned to academia, and currently directs community affairs at Illinois Institute of Technology.