Past Event

Thinking entrepreneurially on Chicago's West Side

Erica Swinney, Associate Director and coordinator for career and community programs at Austin Polytechnical Academy High School, will be our guest speaker. 

From “A Troubled High School Celebrates a Milestone” by Meribah Knight

Austin Polytechnical Academy opened on the West Side of Chicago in 2007 as the city’s first and only career academy dedicated to occupations in high-skilled manufacturing…The ambitious plan seeks to engage private-industry companies to help train the students, all of them from a community that has watched local industry flee, unemployment climb and foreclosure rates soar to the highest in the city.

Questions for Consideration

How is Austin Polytech setting new standards in public education? How can schools connect with community needs? How can we ensure that every student is given the same opportunity to excel and find work after graduation? What challenges might schools face when partnering with local businesses and industries? How relevant is job training in the U.S. manufacturing sector today?

Want to find out more?

More about our guest speaker

Since January 2008, Erica Swinney has worked for the Center for Labor and Community Research (CLCR) as the Director of Career & Community Programs serving Austin Polytechnical Academy, a Chicago Public High School on Chicago’s Westside. Before joining CLCR, Erica worked for over 5 years in the Environmental Justice Movement as a bi-lingual community organizer, grassroots leadership trainer, and program manager for several organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area and California’s San Joaquin Valley.  Prior to that, she completed her MA in Ecology at San Francisco State University and worked on habitat restoration projects around the SF Bay Area. Erica served 2 years in Peace Corps Paraguay and 18 months in Americorps after completing her BA in Integrative Biology at the University of California at Berkeley.  Erica was born and raised on the Westside of Chicago and is a product of Chicago Public Schools.

Free and open to the public. For more information please call 312.422.5580.

If you need a sign interpreter or require other arrangements to fully participate, please call 312.422.5580. For parking locations near the facility, please visit