Civic Engagement Program


The IOP's Civic Engagement programs provide pathways for students to take an active role in shaping politics and policy in their communities. 

The Civic Engagement Program is made up of three main pillars: 1) Leadership Development Programs; 2) Student-Led Civic Engagement Projects; 3) Political Exploration Trips. Nearly 500 students each year engage in the IOP’s civic engagement efforts, providing direct impact to Chicago area communities and enabling students to delve into issues that are important to them. 

Support for the IOP Civic Engagement program comes from Bloomberg Philanthropies, Michael and Jennifer Freedman, Howard L. Gottlieb Foundation and the Sargent Shriver Peace Institute.

The Program

Among its civic engagement work, the IOP provides four core leadership development programs for students to engage with public service leaders, develop leadership and conflict resolution skills, and learn about careers in public service. The programs include: the Leaders of Color Initiative, Shriver Program for Leadership in Public Service, TechTeam, and the Women in Public Service Program

Through student-led civic engagement projects, undergraduate and graduate students engage in a wide range of community efforts, from tutoring individuals in the citizenship pipeline to providing digital consulting for South Side Chicago organizations. Students also lead voter engagement efforts across campus, through TurboVote and a partnership with the University of Chicago Democracy Initaitive (UCDI), to ensure that UChicago students register to vote, learn about the candidates on their ballot and vote on primary and election days. 2016/17 projects include: the Chicago Peace Corps, Maroons Veterans Alliance, and New Americans UChicago. 

Beyond Chicago, the IOP hosts political exploration trips to introduce students to different political systems and practitioners making an impact throughout politics and public service. These trips broaden students’ perspectives and provide first-hand opportunities to learn about key issues and professional preparation for relevant careers. Each year the IOP visits Springfield, IL, Washington D.C., and at least one other destination. Destinations have included San Francisco, CA, Des Moines, IA., China and Cuba, and most recently, the 2016 Republican and Democratic National Conventions. In June 2017 students will be traveling to Jakarta, Indonesia. The IOP also partners with the University Community Service Center and the University of Chicago Office of Civic Engagement each year to bring a diverse group of students to the yearly IMPACT National Conference.

Visit our trips page to learn more about upcoming and past trips. 

Contact Info

Please contact Sam Gonzalez, Partnerships & Engagement Coordinator, at if you have any questions.

Download the PDF overview on the IOP Civic Engagement Program