Illinois Tech Hosts Annual Undergraduate Day of Service

First-Year Students Join Community Efforts Alongside Neighborhood Partners Across the South Side of Chicago

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Illinois Tech’s Office of Community Affairs and Outreach Programs, in collaboration with the Office of Undergraduate Admission, reimagined the annual Undergraduate Day of Service on Saturday, August 21, 2021. More than 70 Scarlet Hawks, including students, faculty, and staff, volunteered at 15 sites throughout the community to help address food insecurity, literacy/education, art and culture, and health disparities impacting the greater South Side.

“The Day of Service is the first official opportunity for the students to meet our community partners, help the partners achieve their goals, and most importantly, for the students to begin rooting themselves in the community,” says Alicia Bunton, director of community affairs. “We hope that our students see themselves as residents of Bronzeville, not transitory visitors, and community service is the first step in the process. Service creates a personal connection. A personal connection fosters a vested interest. A vested interest matures and becomes community engagement.”

Students, particularly first-year undergraduates and their first-year experience mentors, performed a variety of activities such as operating phone banks, canvassing, and beautification and cleanup at various sites throughout the greater South Side, including Pilgrim Baptist Church, Just Roots Chicago, Shoesmith Elementary School, New Community Outreach, the Chinese American Museum of Chicago, Chicago Public Schools District 299–John B. Drake Elementary School, Bronzeville Historical Society, Shawn Michelle’s Homemade Ice Cream, West Point Baptist Church, AIDS Foundation of Chicago, St. James Food Pantry, Southside Community Art Center, The Field Museum, Institute for Positive Living, and Bright Star Community Outreach.

“The support that the Illinois Tech students were able to provide to us was incredibly helpful to a growing business like ours,” says Nataki Muhammad, co-owner of Shawn Michelle’s Homemade Ice Cream. “It was terrific to have the opportunity not only to work alongside them, but to welcome these new students to the Bronzeville neighborhood and to our community.” 

As a flagship annual event for the Office of Community Affairs and Undergraduate Admission, the Day of Service provides first-year students with a chance to engage with organizations across the South Side in the hopes of not only introducing them to their neighborhood, but to also create further connections to the vital work of non-profit organizations, faith-based groups, and schools throughout the region.

“We know that our students often are attracted to Illinois Tech because they want to live and learn in the heart of the great city of Chicago and they are eager to make a positive impact on the world,” says Toni Riley, associate vice president for undergraduate admission and pre-college programs. “I believe that connecting our students with these incredible organizations already making positive contributions across the city of Chicago as soon as they arrive on campus provides a deeper appreciation for that sense of community that will help to shape their time at Illinois Tech and beyond. During the Day of Service students in my volunteer group were signing up to stay connected with the organization in the future, and I look forward to this becoming a tradition at Illinois Tech.”

Photo: Illinois Tech students take part in the Undergraduate Day of Service at the South Side Community Art Center in Bronzeville.