Bridging the Divide: A Public Service Leadership Program


The election of 2016 exposed deep fault lines in our country, and the last two years have, if anything, only deepened them. Now more than ever, communities nationwide are islands of red and blue, with little dialogue or interaction between them. In 2017-18, the IOP offered a pilot program called Bridging the Divide to attempt to address this growing chasm and promote a deeper understanding of and between urban and rural communities. A description of the program and last year's efforts can be found here.

This year, Bridging the Divide will partner with Eureka College in Eureka, IL and Arrupe College in Chicago, IL to bring together 30 freshman and sophomore students to address urban and rural divisions throughout the state of Illinois. The 2018-19 program centers on three issues: the economy, workforce development, and immigration.

During visits to Chicago and Central Illinois, students will meet with government officials, nonprofit leaders, and other relevant stakeholders to understand how each issue plays out differently in each community, and how local context shapes how residents understand both the challenges and potential solutions.  We’ll seek to understand the issues, those who see them differently from ourselves, and how elected officials try to find common solutions in the face of varied public pressures.  The program will take place in three parts:

  • Chicago: January 31 - February 2, 2019
  • Central Illinois: February 22 - 23, 2019
  • Springfield Illinois: April 4 - 6, 2019

Application Instructions:

Please complete the online application by the deadline listed below. Please note: There are no right or wrong answers. Selections will not be made based on your subject matter expertise, but rather which combination of students will lead to the most enriching experience for all involved. Your responses will be used to learn more about you, your personality, and your interest in the program. The application can be found here.

You will be notified by email if you are invited to an interview.

  • Application Due: October 26, 2018
  • Interview period: November 13 - 15, 2018
  • Cohort Announced: November 29, 2018

For any questions, please contact Crystal Coats at