Drawing upon its current charter school management successes, as well as two decades of community building and leadership development initiatives, UNO actively promotes its charter schools as “lighthouses” of resources for parents and community residents.
As it currently does with its existing charter schools, the direct managing structure of each proposed elementary school will be complimented with neighborhood action and community involvement to support each school’s efforts at community building. UNO draws upon its long-standing network of community relationships with local churches, schools, and other community-based organizations, and works to build new relationships through the efforts of each school’s Outreach Coordinator. As a result, the organization will create a new and effective base for parents of students to work towards common goals of healthy neighborhoods and strong families.
UNO currently provides various programs that directly benefit community residents at the grassroots level, including English as a Second Language classes for the Spanish speaking community, health education initiatives which offer workshops to parents and local residents on positive lifestyles and preventive measures to keep families healthy, after-school programming conducted at all UNO-CSN campuses, which is being modified to provide opportunities for students to visit area high schools as well as colleges and universities around Chicago, and a Learn and Serve program promoting community service so that students have direct contact with businesses, leaders, and community institutions within the areas in which they live in order to create and facilitate neighborhood-based projects. Also, all 8th grade students are required to complete a service learning commitment in order to graduate. Working with state and local government agencies as well as foundations, UNO will seek to expand its existing programs and bring similar initiatives to community members in the areas surrounding each proposed campus, and will seek support from local businesses to promote these opportunities for local residents and parents.
UNO Charter School Network’s current volunteer program builds a sense of community and involves individuals on a network-wide basis, further contributing to a community-based culture not only at individual schools, but also across all UNO Charter School Network schools. It encompasses parent commitment in the classroom, administrative assistance in the main office, as well as at volunteer opportunities at after-school events and activities.
UNO’s parent involvement program, which has existed for over a decade, supports a school-based community across UNO-CSN schools, in that participating individuals learn about up-to-date topics, relevant in their own neighborhoods, on a monthly basis. Various opportunities for field trips and workshops as part of this program will be continually offered at proposed campuses. UNO has existing relationships with various cultural and educational institutions based on its current and past outreach programs to students, parents and community residents, many of which are interested in serving UNO-CSN students and parents through field trips and wide-scale events as the network continues to expand.