Institute of Cultural Affairs
The Institute of Cultural Affairs is a non-profit organization that uses participatory processes to engage in a wide variety of community development initiatives. At our heart we are facilitators, and believe that grassroots community development is the way to cultivate change in society. We have a history of working around the globe and nation, but our roots as an organization are based in Chicago.
Currently, we have 5 programming areas within our organization we work within to promote community development. Those include:
International Initiatives - The ICA has over fifteen sister organizations we partner with on participatory community development initiatives across the globe. Although all the organizations in our network operate seperately, we share the same methodology and principles within our work, and work together to enable and enforce each other’s work.
Service Learning - The ICA works with college students across the US, and has a course titled "Leadership in the Time of Transition' during which students participate and in residental community life and work on community engagement initiatives within the Chicagoland area. The program ties together social and environmental justice as one instead of approaching them as two separate schools of thought. We help students deconstruct the world around them and learn thier role in social change,
Resilient Communities- As a part of its national Resilient Communities Program, ICA is coordinating a three-phase, three-year project, “Accelerating Green Initiatives in Chicago’s 77 Community Areas” (known in short as “Accelerate 77”), to expand environmental sustainability activities at the community level. The goal of this project is to increase the role and positive impact of local communities in realizing objectives of the Chicago Climate Action Plan. Its underlying strategy is to IDENTIFY current sustainability initiatives in all of Chicago’s 77 community areas; CONNECT them with one another to inspire new ideas, practices, self-consciousness and motivation through peer interchange; and ENGAGE residents in systematic learning, planning, and collective action. It is anticipated that the project will thereby ACCELERATE environmental sustainability in a bottom-up fashion driven by practical action, expanded imagination and greater organizational capacities among local groups.
Learning Basket - ICA's learning basket program works with children and families on a multi-cultural approach to early childhood education. We believe that parents are thier childrens first teachers, and enabling parents to understand the importance of their role in their children’s cognitive and emotional development will have a profound effect on the life of their child.
4750 GreenRise - The ICA owns and runs out of an 8 story building on the North side of Chicago, where we have about 15 other non-profits tenants. The building, 4750 GreenRise is the largest non-profit service center in the Midwest. The ICA is working on making our building into Uptown GreenRise Learning Laboratory, and creating a green culture within our building. From creating a rooftop garden that residents in our intentional community can harvest from, to a mini greenhouse on our 6th floor, to wind turbines and retrofitted lighting, we are trying to show that an older building can become 'green' and create its own energy.