Community Schools Program

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


Columbia College Chicago Community Schools Program (Columbia CS) is committed to providing K-12 students with learning and enrichment opportunities through the diverse fields of the arts and media, to unleash artistic potential while improving student’s academic achievement and well-being.

Community Schools Program is celebrated throughout the city of Chicago and is a leader in the national field of after-school arts and humanities education.


Columbia College Chicago Community Schools has provided quality out-of-school time programs in Chicago Public Schools since 2001. Current Community Schools and After School Partner sites are in various neighborhoods in the city, including AuburnGresham, Bucktown, Englewood, Humboldt Park, Logan Square, North Lawndale, Ravenswood, South Chicago, and Wicker Park.

Since September of 2014, Columbia CS has served Beidler ES, Darwin ES, Ravenswood ES, Thorp Jackson ES, Jones HS, Lowell ES, Sabin Dual Language Magnet School, and Brennemann ES since 2022. Additionally, Columbia CS fosters strong partnerships with community organizations, teachers, Chicago Public Schools administrators, the Illinois State Board of Education, and the U.S. Department of Education.


Columbia Community Schools seeks to unite the most important influences in children’s lives–school, family, and the community. Columbia CS draws on its established expertise as one of the largest arts, media, and communications colleges in the United States, to create exemplary arts-based educational and enrichment programs for young people, especially those living in underserved communities in Chicago.

After-school offerings are determined by the needs identified through the input and support of students, parents, and the school, linking programs and activities experienced during the school day. The teaching artists, many of whom are Columbia faculty, staff, students, and community partners, interact with more than 1,000 students every year throughout the city of Chicago.


Columbia’s Community Schools program operates 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC). The Community Schools’ programs leverage Columbia College Chicago’s specialties in arts/media/communications to provide a rigorous arts-based curriculum that research has shown to be effective in improving student literacy, engagement and achievement.

This program supports the whole child, endorsing college and career readiness through social, emotional, and physical development learning techniques. Program offerings mirror the fields of study at Columbia College Chicago in Fine and Performing Arts, Media Arts, and Liberal Arts and Sciences. Specific offerings include, but are not limited to:

  • College / Career Readiness
  • Visual Art
    Painting, Drawing, Sculpture, Photography
  • Mentorship and Youth Development
  • Digital Media
    Filmmaking, Graphic Design, Music Production, Animation
  • Dance / Theatre / Performance Art
  • Design
    Product Design, Game Design
  • STEM
    (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)
    (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math)
  • Literary Arts
  • Music
  • Sports
    Building Athletes, Physical Activity, Fitness well-being, Martial Arts


  • Community Schools program operates for 3 hours upon school dismissal (end of school day) and is available most full school days from September through the 1st week of June.
  • The program begins at the end of the school day and runs for 2-3 hours daily for a minimum of 12 hours per week.
  • The program follows the CPS school day calendar in terms of school holidays, early release days, and inclement weather days.
  • Each site should have a minimum of 3 Enrichment/Art Activities per day (taking into consideration that class duration is a minimum of 50 - 55 minutes and maximum of 60 min).

community schools sample schedule

For more information on the Community Schools Program, please contact