UIC tutors from all majors serve nearby neighborhoods

Students throughout the University of Illinois at Chicago are volunteering after-school hours to teach math and writing to elementary students in neighborhoods near UIC.

These aren’t student teachers working toward an education degree. These tutors are students from any of UIC’s 15 colleges, volunteering in a one-semester pilot program called UIC ENGAGE.

Alfred Tatum

Alfred Tatum, dean, UIC College of Education. (Photo: Jenny Fontaine)

“Youth who live in communities with low college-going rates can advance academically and personally by working with UIC students,” said Alfred Tatum, dean of the UIC College of Education and creator of UIC ENGAGE.

“We want our students to know that their presence in the community will have a significant impact on the lives of others. This pilot is part of UIC’s long-term commitment to expand college access and promote the well-being of the neighborhoods around UIC,” Tatum said.

“As a child with working parents, I didn’t have any resources to find a tutor when I needed help, nor did I have an older sibling as a role model,” said Janess Borromeo, who is studying to be a nurse-practitioner specializing in gerontology. “UIC ENGAGE is a great program to help kids who lack extra resources, as well as providing role models they can look up to.”

“UIC ENGAGE allows me to help children in need,” said Sakai Parker, a third-year pre-nursing student. “Being able to help kids achieve their goals is very rewarding.”

The neighborhoods were chosen for proximity to UIC and their need for greater academic resources. The UIC students travel by bus to meet the elementary students in two schools and three churches for two hours — one hour for math, one hour for writing — on alternating days, Monday through Thursday.

The participating schools are Smyth Elementary in Little Italy and Haines Elementary in Chinatown. The churches include Faith Community Church, Greater Open Door Baptist Church and Greater Galilee Missionary Baptist Church in North Lawndale.

A community liaison in each neighborhood provides support throughout the semester.

The UIC students receive resource manuals for teaching math and writing; six hours of training; and technological support throughout the semester. Those who complete a semester of tutoring receive a UIC Experience certificate and recognition at a luncheon with UIC Chancellor Michael Amiridis.