Illinois Tech Partners with City Year to Offer Young Adults Business School Credits


City Year volunteers

Building on a long relationship, Illinois Institute of Technology and the education nonprofit City Year have formed a partnership that allows City Year AmeriCorps alumni to get a head start on their graduate-level education with Stuart School of Business. Starting in spring 2024, young adults who complete a year of service with City Year can receive three hours of credit to go toward a Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) or Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.).

“City Year’s dedication to community service and development aligns perfectly with our mission at Stuart School of Business, and I couldn’t be happier to be forming this alliance with them,” says Liad Wagman, the John and Mae Calamos Dean of Stuart School of Business. “Through this partnership, we are not only recognizing the valuable contributions of City Year AmeriCorps members, but also paving new pathways for educational and professional advancement. At Illinois Tech and Stuart, we are committed to student success through innovation, access and inclusivity in education, experiential learning, and developing purpose-driven professionals, and this collaboration is a prime example of how we can integrate real-world experiences into academic and career success.”

City Year alumni are eligible to earn credit for one three-hour academic course to use toward an M.B.A. or M.P.A. for their service experience. Students are eligible for credit through Illinois Tech’s credit-by-proficiency process, reflecting the skills City Year alumni acquire in the real world during their year of service, working alongside classroom teachers to support student learning.

“We are so grateful to Illinois Institute of Technology to join us as our first national university partner offering college credit for City Year service,” says Laura Kazanovicz, senior director of national alumni impact at City Year. “Offering credit for service is a fantastic approach to acknowledging the way in which service is a valuable part of one's learning experience and accelerates our alums' path to graduation from higher education.”

An AmeriCorps program, City Year recruits, trains and places young adults, ages 17 to 25, in systemically under-resourced schools to serve as “student success coaches,” assisting teachers in the classroom, tutoring students one-on-one and in small groups, and promoting students’ social and emotional development. Founded in Boston in 1988, City Year AmeriCorps members now serve across 29 U.S. cities, with more than 40,000 alumni who continue to make a difference where they live and work.

“City Year Chicago is excited about the partnership with Illinois Tech and to see Chicago institutions invest in our own,” says LaCael Palmer-Pratt, City Year Chicago’s managing director of partnerships and civic engagement. “When postsecondary institutions acknowledge and value the service of AmeriCorps members in this way, they're helping to not only advance the skill development and education of these young adults, but also the collective success of our community.”

Jesus Ayala Jr. (MPA ’17), a graduate of both Stuart and City Year, praised both institutions and credited them for helping set him on the path to his current position, Chief of Program Strategy and Operations at the Chicago educational nonprofit MetroSquash.

“When I went back to direct service work, I felt like I had a lot more confidence and competency, especially in the nonprofit space, after my time with City Year and at Stuart. I was a much better coordinator, and I got to the point where I was more helpful in coaching the coaches,” Ayala Jr. says.

Through City Year, Ayala served at Gage Park High School on Chicago’s Southwest Side in 2015. He had a great experience and still keeps in touch with many of those students, and his time there inspired him to seek more skills in the education space. He enrolled in Stuart’s M.P.A. program, where he developed key relationships with professors and fellow students, learned about public policy through case studies and challenging projects with real-world applications, and was able to secure an internship at City Hall and later a mayoral fellowship.

“I recommend anyone wanting to continue in this space, whether it’s nonprofit or education, to seek more education, engage with your peers and professors, and seek more opportunities and real-world experience,” Ayala Jr. says. “It’s not a passive experience.”