Growing our Partnership with the University of Chicago


Pilot Light’s partnership with the University of Chicago continues to grow!  With thanks to Advisory Board members Dr. Deb Burnet and Dr. Mike Quinn, we are the proud recipients of a grant from the Institution for Translational Medicine at the University of Chicago.  Through the $60,000 grant ($18,250 of which will directly support Pilot Light), two Pilot Light high schools on the south side of Chicago will use their Food Advocacy projects to create Food Education & Advocacy Videos, focused on raising awareness around food issues they identified in their local community.

Across the five classrooms, at least 140 students will be involved in the development of the video’s goals, content and script.  Three students from each class (15 students total) will be supported by their teachers and will develop the content of the videos including determining locations, the information presented, and individuals who appear in the video. Our third partner in the project, Free Spirit Media, will film and produce the videos, and collaborate with the students and teachers to facilitate a pre-production session where students can learn more about the video production process, exposing them to careers in the film and media industry. 

We were also delighted to learn this month that we have been accepted to the 2019 cohort of the University of Chicago’s Community Programs Accelerator!   The Community Programs Accelerator at the University of Chicago aims to support the success of nonprofits whose work benefits neighborhoods in the Mid-South Side.  Through partnerships with industry practitioners and connections to University resources, this initiative provides technical assistance to help develop and strengthen community-based organizations. It also fosters connections between these organizations, promoting a strong network of nonprofits in the mid-South Side.

The Accelerator supports Pilot Light in all aspects of growth and in the coming year, we have outlined a few key projects including the development of a Theory of Change and a breakfast for our Chicago-based partners in Food Education. 

“Thriving neighborhoods have something in common no matter where they’re located: strong community-based organizations that have the resources and the ability to execute on the vision they have for their communities,” said Ryan K. Priester, director of community programs for the Office of Civic Engagement. “The Accelerator meets nonprofits where they are to strengthen their capacity and put them on a sustainable path to execution — and our new partnerships with SSA and UChicago Medicine will enable us to offer training and support to even more organizations serving the South Side.”

Launched by the UChicago Office of Civic Engagement, the Accelerator has grown into a University-wide collaboration that includes UChicago Arts, the Harris School of Public Policy, UChicago Medicine — now partnering with the Accelerator to build the capacity of South Side nonprofits working to prevent violence  — and the School of Social Service Administration (SSA), home to a new Certificate in Nonprofit Management program for early- to mid-stage nonprofit professionals working in or focused on the South Side.  Learn more about the University of Chicago’s Community Programs Accelerator.

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