Chicago Bound


Chicago Bound Alumni Grants

Prospective Students: Applications for Chicago Bound 2017 will Open on Monday, May 1, 2017

Chicago Bound is a 7-day (Saturday, September 9 to Friday, September 15) student-led pre-orientation program sponsored by UCSC and the Institute of Politics for 40 incoming first-year students to promote community awareness and civic engagement. Chicago Bound staff and student leaders guide students through nearly a dozen Chicago communities to engage and enlighten their understanding of the social issues and histories that affect the city’s residents' economic opportunities, drive Chicago's disparate violence issues, define its urban design and access, engage the city's political base, and more. Students can expect to meet with local community residents, civic leaders, government officials, and corporate leaders. Students will grow their appreciation for the vibrant history, diverse cultures, incredible food, and social challenges that are heard about around the world—all in a tight-knit cohort of 40 first-year students and led by current UChicago students who are alumni of the Chicago Bound program.

Through Chicago Bound, students will become more informed about Chicago and methods of effecting social change, including direct service, research and evaluation, advocacy and activism, community organizing, public policy, social entrepreneurship, impact investing, and philanthropy. Issues students can expect to learn about include immigration, segregation and racism, education, health, community economic development, gender and identity, and others. 

No prior civic engagement, volunteering, or social justice experience is needed to apply. Ideal candidates will have a curiosity about social issues; a desire to understand how government, businesses, and social culture create the opportunities and injustices that exist in Chicago and beyond; above average social skills that allow them to function well within an incredibly diverse (racial, economic, cultural, gender, etc.) student cohort; and a desire to learn how any future career can serve to improve our world. Chicago Bound professional staff are highly trained, experienced, and well-connected social educators who have years of experience mentoring, educating, and administering programs for students and career professionals. Chicago Bound student leaders are all alumni of the program, and current UChicago students.

All students who are accepted into the Chicago Bound program will have the opportunity, once they have completed the program, to access academic-year alumni microgrant funding for projects they would like to initiate on-and off-campus that develop, illuminate, further, or challenge a social concern in Chicago.

Chicago Bound is a no-cost program. Housing and meals will be provided.

The program goals are:

Immersion in the city of Chicago

  • Learn about the range of social justice issues that Chicago communities face.
  • Examine the root causes of these issues and how they play out in specific communities on the north, west, and south sides of Chicago.
  • Adjust to becoming residents to the third largest city in the country.

Instilling an ethos of service

  • Broaden notion of service to include the various ways to effect social change.
  • Make meaningful contributions to the communities in which students serve.
  • Know how to take action on social justice issues in the future.
  • Increase and sustain ethos of service during the academic year.

Student leadership development

  • Interact with a variety of community leaders effecting social change in Chicago.
  • Increase students’ understanding of, and ability to interact with, classmates of different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds; to have productive discussions.
  • Practice critical thinking and analysis skills to prepare for the rigorous academic experience as a UChicago student and to apply theory into practice.
  • Have the opportunity to assume a variety of leadership roles to get peers involved in different service and community engagement opportunities during the academic year with support from UCSC and IOP. 

Reflections from Chicago Bound Program Alumni:

"By going through the experience of Chicago Bound, my expectations of the role of my college education greatly changed. I learned that my experience at the University should not be solely academic, and that my studies should include working on building relationships with others and forming a network that can be mobilized for the good of a single community as well as Chicago at large."

"Walking into session after session conducted by members of our Chicago community who experienced difficulties such as homelessness and incarceration gave me insight into a world I never could have seen from a classroom. The profoundness of the speakers’ passion about social justice issues that they are fighting for will undoubtedly stick with me as I begin to formulate causes that I deem to be important."

“Especially with the recent election cycle, Chicago Bound allowed me to see how issues affect communities at a local level.” 


Online Application Opens:  Monday, May 1

Online Application Due:  Friday, June 16, 11:59PM CST

Decisions Announced:  Friday, June 30

Student Acceptance Confirmation:  Friday, July 14, 6pm CST

Program Dates:  Saturday, September 9 to Friday, September 15

To learn more about Chicago Bound, click here for 2016 program FAQs and click here to watch the 2014 program video.