Community Schools

Columbia's after-school programs bring teaching artists into Chicago Public Schools.

The Community Schools program helps Chicago kids express their creativity through the arts in after-school activities and community programs. Community Schools unites the most important factors in kids’ lives: school, family, and community. This holistic approach builds on lessons happening in the classroom every day with after-school opportunities for arts education, physical activity, tutoring, and cultural enrichment activities. These programs support the whole child, including social, emotional, and physical development and foster college and career awareness and readiness. Students dance, sing, act, draw, write, play instruments, and explore media technology such as photography, video, and animation.

The teaching artists—many of whom are Columbia faculty, staff, and students, as well as community partners— interact with more than 1,500 students every year throughout the city of Chicago. The program connects Columbia to hundreds of parents as well, engaging families as partners in their children’s education. Community Schools is a strong partner with community organizations, teachers, Chicago Public Schools administrators, and the U.S. Department of Education. The program is celebrated throughout the city and is a leader in the national field of after-school arts and humanities education.

The Community Schools program is funded in part by the Illinois State Board of Education and has received federal funds from the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program. The program is also supported by the U.S. Department of Education Full Service Community Schools program; Chicago Public Schools; City of Chicago Department of Family and Support Services; Food 4 Less; U.S. Bank Foundation; and United Way of Metropolitan Chicago Impact Fund, a McCormick Foundation Fund.