Communication student bridges gap between student groups and Chicago non-profit

    The Northwestern Student Theatre Coalition and Northwestern Community Development Corps are creating an ongoing, community-building relationship with 826CHI, a writing center in Wicker Park.

    Communication junior Danielle Littman is expanding her Civic Engagement Certificate capstone project to the entire Northwestern community, hoping to lure NU volunteers to tutor younger students who need help with both academic and creative writing. She is holding an orientation session in Harris L28 this Friday at 5 p.m., where students can find out more about volunteering for 826CHI.

    Littman, a member of the WAVE Productions theater board, said she hopes to engage the writing center students in a long-term project for the entire school year. But she also wants to leave room for university students who would like to tutor  or help out with the organization in another capacity only on a weekly basis.

    “We were all really excited about forming a sustainable relationship with another community through the arts,” she said. “We decided it would be silly if we didn’t open it up to everybody at Northwestern who was interested.”

    826CHI, part of a nationwide nonprofit founded by author Dave Eggers, welcomed Northwestern’s support, according to Communication senior Amanda Mather. Mather interns at the center this quarter, and one of her main jobs is recruiting more Northwestern students. She connected with NCDC to not only draw more student volunteers to 826CHI, but also to give students a more organized way to get involved with friends. 

    "We'd be nothing without our humongous core of volunteers," Mather said.

    The center is just six years old and relies on about 400 volunteers per year to help out students aged 6 to 18. While 826CHI regularly gets volunteers from universities, they are looking to build more solid relationships with them, Curry said.

    “[Littman's] efforts and [Mather's] efforts to get involved in StuCo and NCDC is a step toward a model that we would like to enhance...where we are more formally working with schools through an organization within that school rather than just kind of randomly recruiting students here and there,” she said.

    Although StuCo is well-known on campus with 10 theater boards producing several dance and theater shows each quarter, Littman said they do not typically do a lot of work in the greater Chicago area. 

    “StuCo is extremely progressive and has a huge presence on the Northwestern campus but not really outside of the Northwestern campus,” Littman said. “I think because we’re always so busy here there’s a tendency for it to become really insular, and I’m excited about finding ways to break down that barrier.”

    Editor's Note: Danielle Littman has previously written for North by Northwestern. 


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