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Programs and Partnerships

The Office of Community Education Partnerships (OCEP) bridges the research, practice, and service missions of the School of Education and Social Policy and Northwestern University to create initiatives and partnerships that positively impact our home communities of Evanston and Chicago–and can be shared and scaled far beyond. 

OCEP partners with faculty, students, colleges, departments, and centers from across the University. OCEP also supports Northwestern's Neighborhood and Community Relations.

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The Northwestern Evanston Education Research Alliance (NEERA)

The Northwestern Evanston Education Research Alliance (NEERA) is a research-practice partnership between Northwestern University, Evanston-area school districts, and civic and community organizations. We are data-driven and equity-minded, and we collectively leverage the expertise of researchers and practitioners both inside and outside the classroom. Our goal is to promote the development, learning, and well-being of the young people and families of Evanston and the world beyond.

NEERA Website

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The Baxter Center for Science Education

The Baxter Center for Science Education is a collaborative partnership between Chicago Public Schools' Lindblom Math & Science Academy, Round Lake Area Schools, Baxter International Foundation, and OCEP. The Baxter Center builds impactful student experiences and teacher professional learning programs to promote student success in STEM education and career pathways. The Baxter Center strives to promote equity in education by catalyzing partnerships and collaboratively developing programs with communities in Chicago and the greater region.

Baxter Center for Science Education Website

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The Digital Youth Divas

Digital Youth Divas, a collaboration between Digital Youth Network and DePaul University, is an out-of-school program that engages girls in grades 4-8, particularly Black and Latina girls, in design-based STEM activities. Mentors act as guides and role models to support girls in developing STEM identities by participating in face-to-face and online spaces to design, create, and re-imagine everyday artifacts (jewelry, hair accessories, music) and activities collaboration, critique, circuitry, coding, and fabrication.

The Digital Youth Divas Website

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The L3 Platform: learning in-school, out-of-school, and online

The L3 online platform powers learning ecosystems in several US cities. It sits at the intersection of research and learning, connecting academics, educators, formal and informal learning organizations, youth, and families. The platform collects, structures, and labels data in order for Northwestern and our partners to help each learn and understand their learning landscapes, focusing on equity and opportunity factors. The L3 platform supports EL3 (Evanston learns in-school, out-of-school, and online), My Chi. My Future, and STEAMville.


My Chi. My Future.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s My Chi. My Future. initiative works to connect every young person in Chicago to a variety of rich, engaging, safe, and youth-centered out-of-school experiences. For MCMF, OCEP helps to support and convene Chicago community-based organizations, provides the MCMF online platform, facilitates professional development for educators and community leaders, and works in direct partnership with Deputy Mayor for Education and Human Services, Sybil Madison, and her team.

Learn More About MCMF

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The Northwestern - District 65 Partnership Office

A central focus of Northwestern’s strategic plan is strengthening engagement with local communities through partnerships that promote bidirectional learning and broader community impact. This focus includes an emphasis on K-12 education and the educators, administrators, caregivers, and civic organizations that play critical roles in youth learning and development. Established in 2016, the partnership office supports these initiatives in Evanston/Skokie School District 65.

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The Northwestern - ETHS Partnership Office

The relationship between Northwestern and Evanston Township High School has grown exponentially since the opening of our office in September 2012. We support Northwestern and ETHS by listening to the needs, goals, and challenges of both schools and identify opportunities for addressing issues, collaboratively. Our work crosses the areas of academics, athletics, health and wellness, identity and social consciousness, college and career education, cultural events, mentoring, arts and community engagement.


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Opportunity Landscapes

We know that learning happens across settings and over time. We also know that out-of-school time (OST) opportunities are critical but unequally distributed and understudied. The Opportunity Landscape project explores how we can use GIS-encoded data to better understand OST assets (such as learning locations, mentors and providers, and breadth and depth of interest-based programming) and barriers (such as cost, safety, and transportation) within geographic boundaries. Data from the L3 platform is layered onto public datasets (e.g., US census demographics and city crime data), and linked to locally sourced data collection efforts. Together, researchers, community providers and educators, and decision-makers and policy influencers, interpret results, ask more questions, and co-design supports and interventions to strengthen learning opportunity landscapes within communities. 

A group of ETHS girls smiling for a photo


OCEP is partnered with City Colleges of Chicago and community organizations on STEAMbassadors, a mentorship workforce initiative designed to engage college students in discovering, strengthening, and sharing their STEAM interests and passions with youth, with the goal of integrating STEAM into the everyday lives of and building learning pathways for youth. STEAMbassadors utilizes a “from community, for community” model to address inequities and lack of educator representation from and programming in underserved, underrepresented communities, particularly in STEAM. 

Learn more about STEAMbassadors