Chicago Grassroots Organizations
- The Logan Square Neighborhood Association can trace its origins to the 1960s, when residents of the neighborhood protested white flight and the problems it brought. Since the community today is largely LatinX, much of their education-oriented organizing focuses on the lack of Spanish and Latin-American culture in the classroom, which has led to their successful collaborations with other groups in creating community-to-classroom pipelines (Hong 2011, p.145). They emphasize the leadership role that parents take in the community and classroom, and see parents as educators and potential school teachers. http://www.lsna.net/index.html
- Grow Your Own Teachers Illinois grew out of the prominent Chicago grassroots Logan Square Neighborhood Association in collaboration with other groups after they successfully lobbied for the Grow Your Own Teachers Act (which I discuss further on my “Grassroots Organizing Synthesis” page). This group successfully maintains its democratic roots within the community while collaborating with institutions such as Chicago State University (which promotes pathways for people of color to become teachers) and while receiving federal funds. They stay grassroots by maintaining leadership from the communities they are part of. http://growyourownteachers.org/
- Other Grassroots Neighborhood Associations that Have Adopted the Grow Your Own Teachers Progam:
- The Brighton Park Neighborhood Council began in 1997 when members of the predominantly LatinX Brighton Park community decided to protest their neighborhood’s lack of resources and quickly grew, establishing relationships with other organizations like the Logan Square Neighborhood Association and their Grow Your Own Teachers Movement. They fight for this on a large-scale level through campaigning and political involvement, and on a smaller-scale level by encouraging parental involvement in schools and helping forge pathways for community members to become bilingual educators. Like an unofficial local government, community members vote on the board of directors, which includes 3 community representatives and a teacher representative on top of traditional organizational roles. https://www.bpncchicago.org/
- Though ONE Northside organizes for a variety of community issues, its members (mostly teachers, students, parents) emphasize their role in the Grow Your Own Teachers program. The group works with two local colleges to help community members become certified teachers. ONE Northside began as a collaboration between two smaller grassroots organizations in the North Side region, and its membership spans a wider range of demographics than the Logan Square and Brighton Park groups, which cover smaller geographic regions.
- Teachers for Social Justice organizes around a variety of issues that affect schools, and while they’re led by teachers, they incorporate all types of community members in organizing campaigns. One of their goals is to create a classroom that is “Multicultural, anti-racist & pro-justice. ” While they achieve this goal by fighting for policy reform (Grow Your Own Teachers Act), they also help create multicultural classrooms by empowering and motivating teachers of color to advocate for their schools through organizing in general. http://www.teachersforjustice.org/
- The Chicago Grassroots Curriculum Taskforce focuses on providing students with educations that reflect their heritage; part of this goal is finding and supporting teachers of color to promote heritage education in their communities. Ultimately, they want communities to have autonomy over their schools and curriculum, shirking the potential white supremacist and colonialist influences. http://grassrootscurriculum.org/
- The Baltimore Algebra Project is a grassroots organization that promotes math teachers of color from within the Baltimore community by training and paying high school students to become math tutors within their community. It is an extremely small organization; one would probably not find it if they searched “grassroots teachers of color Chicago” on Google. Instead, I found out about it through talking to a friend who benefited from her Baltimore high school’s participation with the organization. https://www.baltimorealgebraproject.org/our-mission
- The Washington, DC, branch of Teaching for Change is a grassroots organization that has joined with a national coalition later in its history, often collaborating with students at Howard University. Its overall mission is to empower education communities to “change the world,” partially through a grow-your-own teacher initiative. http://www.teachingforchange.org
Hong, S. (2018). “Acts of Leadership”: Building Powerful Forms of Parent Participation in Chicago. In M. Warren & K. Mapp, A Match on Dry Grass (1st ed.). Oxford University Press.