News & Events

Community Schools and Arts Integration Mentorship Programs Join School of Fine and Performing Arts

Columbia College Chicago Deepens Connection Between Community-Based Youth Programs and Curriculum

CHICAGO (June 23, 2017)—The Community Schools and Arts Integration Mentorship (Project AIM) programs are joining Columbia College Chicago’s School of Fine and Performing Arts (SFPA). Formerly housed at the Center for Community Arts Partnerships (CCAP), the move to SFPA reflects another milestone in Columbia’s efforts to further integrate the curriculum with community-building and engagement.

Columbia’s Strategic Plan calls for strengthening student engagement with the city of Chicago. Under the direction of Onye Ozuzu, Dean of the School of Fine and Performing Arts, Community Schools and Project AIM will continue to serve their community partners while deepening connections to the fine and performing arts curriculum. Through reciprocal partnerships, the school will help sustain diverse forms of socially engaged creative practice, scholarship, advocacy, and activism.

“Columbia has long embodied community engagement in its creative academic practices, an approach through which holistic learning and an appreciation of entrepreneurship occur,” said Ozuzu. “We want our students to learn that arts practices extend beyond the stage, the page, and the frame. We want them to know that through working with and for communities in many facets of civic life, the artist discovers the breadth and depth of their art, and succeeds in sustaining a rewarding career. Our accomplished faculty, teaching artists, and dedicated community partners understand the mutual benefits and importance of strengthening our community, and empowering young creatives across the city.”

Columbia remains committed to linking its academic departments to community partners and serving youth in diverse communities throughout Chicago. In September 2016, Columbia moved its Convergence Design Lab, an innovation incubator in design and learning experiences, from CCAP to the School of Media Arts to create a more immersive and impactful learning experience for students, and to further achievement of the college’s community engagement goals.

The Community Schools program supports Chicago youth through arts-based after-school activities and cultural enrichment by building on lessons taught in the classroom. Students explore their creativity by playing instruments, acting, dancing, and by working with media technology, including photography, video, and animation. 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. It is also supported by the U.S. Department of Education Full-Service Community Schools program; Chicago Public Schools; City of Chicago Department of Family & Support Services; Food 4 Less; U.S. Bank Foundation; and United Way of Metropolitan Chicago Impact Fund, a McCormick Foundation Fund.

The Project AIM program brings together elementary and high school teachers from across Chicago and teaching artists who share their practice through education. This collaboration gives students access to creative expertise, including work in theatre, visual arts, creative writing, music, spoken-word performance, book and paper arts, photography, dance, film, and media. The program is funded by the Polk Brothers Foundation; Lloyd A. Fry Foundation; Crown Family Foundation; Department of Education’s Model Development and Dissemination Grants Program, and Evanston/Skokie School District 65.


Columbia College Chicago is a private, nonprofit college offering a distinctive curriculum that blends creative and media arts, liberal arts and business for more than 8,000 students in more than 100 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Dedicated to academic excellence and long-term career success, Columbia College Chicago creates a dynamic, challenging and collaborative space for students who experience the world through a creative lens. For more information, visit

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