Chicago Civic Leadership Certificate Program CCLCP

Award-winning capstone projects focus on
community access to good food and health care

Two CCLCP students created and administered surveys, conducted interviews, and took photographs in order to identify key issues to be considered in a subsequent formal evaluation of the Homegrown Chicago Farmer’s Market in Humboldt Park. The students, Geetha Pedapati and Naida Serak, also investigated the techniques used to promote the market.


Homegrown Chicago Farmer’s Market, a project of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center, in Openlands2006 was about to be evaluated by Openlands, Geetha’s and Naida’s community partner organization. Openlands, a non-profit group dedicated to conserving green space in Northeastern Illinois, encourages sustainable communities, an important feature of which is growing, marketing, and consuming food locally. Besides working toward sustainability, the Homegrown Chicago Farmer’s Market also aims to reduce obesity and improve general health among Humboldt Park residents.


As Geetha wrote in her capstone project report:

Lack of access to fresh produce, especially in dense urban areas such as Humboldt Park, is one cause of declining health in low-income communities. Costs of shipping from rural farms, a lack of large grocery stores…and the high cost of produce in the city, coupled with the generally high cost of living, have created a great need for an alternate food source….The Homegrown Chicago Farmer’s Market is an important solution to this growing problem.


The 2006 capstone project created by CCLCP student Lauren Jennings for the Community Health Centers of UIC’s Great Cities Neighborhoods Initiatives, was an analysis of plans to UICNIoffer health care services to local senior citizens at a community clinic housed in the National Teacher’s Academy (NTA). The PK-8 public school (recently renamed the National Teacher’s Elementary Academy) is in Chicago’s Armour Square neighborhood, an area including Chinatown. Hilliard Apartments, a large residential development which is home to many low-income senior citizens, is directly across the street from the school and clinic. 


Lauren reviewed a 2005 needs assessment conducted by UIC pre-nursing students, conducted interviews, toured the Hilliard Apartments and the NTEA. She also took photographs that she used to illustrate her report.


Lauren’s report primarily addressed staffing needs, transportation issues, and inter-staff communication issues. She concluded:

Everyone involved is keenly aware of the needs of the seniors and they are ready and highly qualified to address those needs…The focus of the NTA clinic is and will continue to be quality service with the community in mind.