Monday, December 4, 2017

Public forum: "What makes a school great? And can school quality ratings measure it?" on February 12, 2018

On Monday, February 23 a number of education/equity groups will host a public forum to discuss the question, 'What makes a school great? And can school quality ratings measure it?' The forum considers what a rating system that was designed to help families at the same time that it decreased sorting, segregation, and inequity would look like.

Time: 7:00pm
Place: Kenwood Academy (5015 S. Blackstone Avenue)

Click here for more information and to rsvp.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Next HPKCAC meeting to take place on November 29 at Dyett HS

Our next HPKCAC meeting will take place this Wednesday, November 29, at Dyett HS from 6-8pm.

Topics for discussion include distribution of the remaining copies of We All Sing with One Voice from our Jane Averill Community Reading Day, the possibility of the HPKCAC making a formal statement about CPS's changes to Special Ed this year, and the possibility of keeping a current list of our schools' needs that volunteers could access.

We're planning to not meet in December, so our next meeting after this one will be January 24, 2018.

Everyone is welcome!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Forum on Special Education in CPS on November 16: Know Your Rights

Raise Your Hand for IL Public Education is sponsoring a free, public event on Thursday, November 16, from 7pm-9pm for parents seeking more information about Special Education at Chicago Public Schools. This informative event will help to inform parents about the gamut of issues surrounding Special Education, including resources for Special Ed and legal rights to services. 

Special Education at CPS
Know Your Rights, Get Your Resources, Share Your Stories
Thursday, November 16, 2017
7:00 - 9:00 pm
Jesse White Community Center and Park
412 W Chicago

Click here to see the flyer.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Thank you to everyone who helped make the Jane Averill Community Reading Day a success!

We are so grateful to everyone who helped make the 2017 Jane Averill Community Reading Day a big success! 

On Friday, October 6 we had about 80 volunteer readers at nine public elementary schools reading to small groups of PreK or Kindergarten students and each child who was read to received a copy of the bookWe All Sing with the Same Voice.  We were also able to provide each teacher team with a hardback copy of the book and a cd of the song.  You can see some pictures from the event in the Hyde Park Herald here.

We are grateful for the support of 57th Street Books, who collected all the donations and ordered the books at a discount for us, and to the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference (HPKCC) and the University of Chicago's Neighborhood Schools Program (NSP), who each donated $500, in addition to numerous contributions from individuals in the community. Together we were able to raise over $2700, which allowed us to purchase over 500 books.

We had at least two readers per classroom, and some classrooms ended up with 1-on-1 reader-to-child!  We saw the children's faces light up after reading with a volunteer and then again once they received their very own book to bring home. We had such a variety of readers: a 4th grader who had had Ms. Jane as a pre-k teacher, an 8th grader who was off school and came along to help, a community member whose mother had taught at one of our schools for 30+ years, police officers from the university, a children's librarian who lived next door to one of our schools, just to highlight a few.  Some classrooms broke into a dance party once the cd started playing and another classroom said their "Friday Song" went right along with our theme, offering to teach us the song, "The World is a Rainbow."  

The goal of this event was to build support for our community schools and many of the volunteers involved have said that they want to continue their partnership with the schools. This is great news! Please reach out to the HPKCAC if you have any trouble connecting with a school. Here is the contact information for each school:

Ariel Community Academy, 1119 E. 46th Street, Principal: Ms. Coleman 773 535-1931
Bret Harte Elementary School, 1556 E. 56th Street, Principal: Mr. Bright, 773 535-0870
Carnegie Elementary School, 1414 E. 61st Place, Principal: Ms. Pollard, 773 535-0530
Kozminski Community Academy, 936 E. 54th Street, Principal: Ms. Glover, 773 535-0980
Murray Language Academy, 5335 S. Kenwood Avenue, Principal: Mr. Mason, 773 535-0585
Ray Elementary School, 5631 S. Kimbark Avenue, Principal: Ms. Thole, 773 535-0970
Reavis Elementary School, 834 E. 50th Street, Principal: Ms. King, 773 535-1060
Robinson Elementary School, 4225 S. Lake Park Avenue, Principal: Ms. Hobbs, 773 535-1777
Shoesmith Elementary School, 1330 E. 50th Street, Principal: Ms. Gates, 773 535-1765

Possible ways you might consider continuing to support our public schools: cash or in-kind donations; offering resources, such as school supplies (including reams of copy paper & printer cartridges) or uniforms; offer to work with the school to provide job shadows and participate in career days; help with an afterschool activity or find another way to mentor a student; volunteer in a classroom or to provide lunch/recess support; serve on the school’s LSC as a Community Representative.

We hope to have even more participation next year for the 2018 Jane Averill Community Reading Day!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Car Wash Fundraiser to support Bret Harte 8th Graders' Trip to Washington DC on September 30

The 8th Graders at Bret Harte are washing cars on Saturday, September 30 to raise money for their class trip to Washington DC this spring. (Rain Date is October 7.)

To support this great cause just bring your car to the driveway of Bret Harte Elementary at 1556 E. 56th Street between 9am and 11am.

$7 per car; $10 per truck.

Click here for the flyer.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Eat at any Chipotle location on September 21 before 10pm and raise funds for CPS

If you eat at any of the Chipotle locations in Chicago on Thursday, September 21 before 10pm, they will donate 50% of the proceeds from your purchase to Chicago Public Schools.

Bring in the attached flyer, show it on your smartphone or tell the cashier you’re supporting the cause to make sure that 50% of the proceeds will be donated to Chicago Public Schools.

Please share the flyer with your school and community contacts.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Improv class for teachers at The Revival in Hyde Park

The Revival has partnered with a number of schools in the Hyde Park community and they are announcing a new class for teachers - Improv for the Classroom!

This on-your-feet workshop engages participants in basic improv exercises that can be used in the classroom to: 
  • Encourage group bonding
  • Improve communication skills 
  • Promote critical thinking

It’s also fun!

Dates: Thursday, 10/5 & Thursday, 10/12
Time: 7:00-9:00pm
Location: The Revival (1160 E. 55th St.)
Cost: $50 total for 2 sessions

Please direct questions to

Hyde Park-Kenwood CAC letter regarding new online enrollment system (GoCPS)

At our August meeting, the HPKCAC unanimously agreed to send the letter below regarding the new online enrollment system to CPS's Department of Education Policy and Procedures.

August 24, 2017

Mr. Tony Howard
Department of Education Policy and Procedures
Chicago Public Schools
42 W. Madison Street
Chicago, IL  60602

Dear Mr. Howard:

The Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Action Council acknowledges the need for a more streamlined and timely application system for public high schools with regards to planning, budget, and programming at the local level. We support our principals and staff and do not want to undermine school leadership and the needs they have for a better system for enrollment. That said, we have some concerns about the new single application for high schools (GoCPS).

Broadly speaking, the introduction of a single application offers an opportunity to address some of the inequities that have plagued our schools for decades. For example, the algorithm could be used to match students with schools in a way that addresses effects of the long-standing problem of segregation in Chicago. As you know, the enrollment at CPS selective schools does not match the racial make-up of CPS students: while about 10% of CPS students are white, the percentage of white students at selective enrollment high schools is often much higher. For example, in 2014 Natalie Moore reported that nearly a quarter of the students in selective enrollment high schools was white. We ask that your office take a step towards improving equity by adjusting the algorithm in such a way that it increases Black and Hispanic students’ access to selective enrollment programs.

Relatedly, we are also concerned about the disparity in resources for selective enrollment schools vs. neighborhood schools. The inequities of the current two-tiered system will be further exacerbated with a single application unless CPS makes a concerted effort to better support its neighborhood schools. Further, if you refer to “top-ranked schools” in the application, parents who have not been made aware of the strengths of their neighborhood schools will rank selective enrollment schools above other schools that might serve their children well. In so doing, many may allocate their top ranked positions to schools they do not have a good chance of getting into. The end result is that many students may end up not being served well by the new system. In a student-based-budgeting world, enrollment numbers matter more and more. In light of the closing of 50 schools four years ago, we fear that some in CPS will use decreased enrollment numbers resulting from this single application an excuse to close even more neighborhood schools. We ask that you change the language of the application so that neighborhood public schools are portrayed as a fair option and not the lowest option.

We are also concerned about the issue of marketing: many charter schools have paid staff to market their schools; neighborhood schools largely do not. It is not fair to ask the principals of neighborhood schools to take on this task when they already have so much on their plate. We ask that you provide quality marketing for neighborhood schools in order to inform the broader community about their strengths and special programs.

Lastly, we are disappointed by what we view as a lack of general community engagement prior to having the system developed. We understand that the Chicago Community Trust has provided one million dollars for outreach so we are puzzled by the lack of communication and solicitation of feedback regarding the new system. The CACs were created to serve as a point of contact between CPS officials and communities. We ask that you use the CACs as a forum for hosting outreach regarding the proposed system and that you make the necessary adjustments based on the feedback you receive.


Katie Gruber, on behalf of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Action Council

Next HPKCAC meeting on Wednesday, September 27 at Dyett HS

The next meeting of the HPKCAC will be held on Wednesday, September 27 at Dyett High School from 6-8pm. Please enter from the back of the school, by the parking lot.

The focus of the meeting will be the last stages of planning for the Jane Averill Community Reading Day which is set for October 6. We're so grateful for the $500 donations from both the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference and the Neighborhood Schools Program at the University of Chicago. That plus many donations from individual donors will allow us to purchase a copy of We All Sing with the Same Voice for every child we visit that day. 

Please come with updates about how the year is starting off at our neighborhood schools!

Everyone is welcome.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Family-friendly bike ride through Bronzeville on September 9

There is a family-friendly side-by-side bike ride through historic Bronzeville on Saturday morning, September 9. Meet at Dyett High School to register and enjoy some light refreshments. The ride starts at 10am and ends at noon.

Bring your bike and helmet!

For more details, click here for the flyer.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Donations and Volunteers Needed for HPKCAC's Jane Averill Community Reading Day on October 6

The HPKCAC is organizing the Jane Averill Community Reading Day on October 6th!  

We are asking for donations and volunteers from the community to make this event happen. 

This community reading event is named after Jane Averill, a beloved preschool teacher at Ray School, a fighter for public education and social justice, and a member of the HPKCAC. 

On October 6, 80-100 volunteers will read a favorite book of Jane Averill's, We All Sing with the Same Voice, to PreK or Kindergarten students for 15-20 minutes; after that, volunteers will be taken on a tour of the school.

We are envisioning this taking place at the beginning of the school day/pre-k session, but the exact time may be different for each school, and there are afternoon pre-k classes as well. In the coming weeks, we will confirm the start time with each school and liaisons will reach out to volunteers with the time that their school has said is the best time. (Most schools start between 8am-9am.) 

We would like to raise $2500 to make sure each child gets a copy of the book to take home. We hope that the experience of getting inside our neighborhood schools will encourage community members to find ways to support our neighborhood schools in the coming year.

There is an online link to volunteer:

We are so grateful to 57th Street Books for partnering with us! They will be collecting donations to cover the cost of the books. Donations can be accepted online or in the form of cash or check.

To donate online:

If you mail your check, please make it out to 57th Street Books.

You can send a check to:
57th Street Books
1301 E. 57th Street
Chicago, IL  60637
Attn: Kevin/Manager

If you'd like to print out some flyers for the event to pass out to friends and neighbors, click here.

If you'd like to print out a donation form to pass out to someone who might make a donation, click here.

The Hyde Park Herald published an article about it which you can read here.

Thank you!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Free high school curriculum on the food system is available

A free supplementary curriculum for high school students on the topic of the food industry is available for teachers who would like to use it. The curriculum, FoodSpan, is related to the documentary film, Food Frontiers, which was part of One Earth Film Festival this spring and  includes 17 free downloadable lesson plans that span the food system from farm to plate and beyond.
All 17 free lessons in FoodSpan are aligned with social studies standards, and 11 each with science and health standards. FoodSpan delves into environmental, health and social justice issues related to the way our food is produced, processed, marketed, etc.

Professional development opportunities available for HPKCAC community

CPS is making available some professional development opportunities for CACs. Hyde Park-Kenwood CAC folks are welcome to attend any of the workshops listed below. If you would like to attend any of these workshops, please email Chasda Martin ( and let him know which session you plan to attend.

Helping Your Child Succeed: Parent Strategies for Improved Communication with Teachers and Schools
South Shore/HPK
Dyett Parent University 555 E. 51st
Dr. Tierra Winston
9am – 12pm
Understanding Trauma
Colman Building
4655 South Dearborn St
Room 409
Dr. Cyndee Langley

Understanding Parental Engagement: Closing the Gap
South Shore/HPK
Dyett Parent University 555 E. 51st
Dr. Tierra Winston

Next meeting on Wednesday, August 23 from 6-8pm at Hyde Park Art Center

The next HPKCAC meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, August 23 at the Hyde Park Art Center (5020 S. Cornell Avenue) from 6-8pm. We'll have a full agenda with elections, discussion of our proposed upcoming Jane Averill Community Reading Day event, vote on a HPKCAC letter re: the new single application, and school updates.

If you attend HPKCAC meetings and would like to be elected to one of four leadership positions (2 co-chairs and 2 co-secretaries) please come to the meeting prepared to give a 2-minute-or-less spiel on why you would like to hold a particular position.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Community Grants available through Illinois Humanities with deadline of September 15

The Illinois Humanities Community Grants program is back up and running after two cycles of hiatus. Their categories for grants are: planning, strategy and evaluation grants (Vision, up to $2,000); project grants (Action, up to $4,000); and partnership and collaboration initiatives (Multiplier, up to $15,000). Learn more about each category and apply by September 15th here.
Illinois Humanities pays special attention to project ideas that explore more innovative program formats, that try to attract new audiences, and that explore new tools such as digital platforms. There is a lot of exciting and provocative work happening in Illinois in the arts, culture, and humanities arenas, and they are seeking proposals that help groups take risks and try out new things to grow programmatically and organizationally.
If you have ideas you'd like to bounce around with an Illinois Humanities staffer, feel free to do so by contacting Mark Hallett at 312.374.1555

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Back to School Bash for Network 9 on August 22

CPS will be hosting its 2nd annual Back to School Bash for Network 9 on Tuesday, August 22nd from 2pm-5pm at the DuSable Campus (4934 S. Wabash).  

There will be free school supplies, food, information, and FUN (DJ, games, & raffles)! 

Click here for the flyer.

Last year many community organizations took advantage of the opportunity to talk with families and distribute brochures and flyers about the various services and programs that they offer families and students. If your community organization would like to reserve a table in the Back to School Bash for Network 9, please complete the Google form at this link:


Side-by-Side Summer Learning Camp for Families on July 27

On Thursday, July 27th, Parent University-Bronzeville will host a Side-by-Side Summer Learning Camp for families at Dyett HS for the Arts (555 E. 51st) from 10am-12pm. The event will include a robotics competition, media coverage, and free refreshments for everyone.

Children and parents are encouraged to attend!   

Click here to see the flyer.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

List of free days for CPS students at Chicago museums

Museums in the Parks -- a coalition of Chicago museums located on Chicago Park District property -- has put together this list of museums that will be open to CPS students this summer free of charge.

Public forum on the new single application process for CPS high schools (GoCPS) on July 20

On Thursday July 20th, 6-7:30pm, at Juarez High School, Generation All, Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, Chicago Teachers Union and Raise Your Hand will hold a public forum on the new single application process for CPS high schools, GoCPS.  

CPS approved the new application at the April Board of Education meeting:
  • All students applying to high school must use single app process
  • Selective Enrollment HSs are NOT included in single app, and charters may opt-in
  • CPS does not yet know how many charters will participate
  • Students will get one offer for high school admission (i.e. from non-SE schools)
  • Neighborhood HS will still be “default” option
  • An algorithm will be used to match students based on their top picks and available seats, but the details of this algorithm have yet to be released
For more info, you can read Generation All’s issue brief on the single application hereWill a Single Application for High Schools Help Expand Equity in Chicago Public Schools?
Questions? Send an email to: