Press Release

AKArama U Will Provide South Side Chicago Youth With Math, Reading, Philosophy

CHICAGO, IL- December 12, 2012 A new collaboration will provide youth in Chicago’s South Side the opportunity to get tutoring through a new perspective while become immersed with philosophy, all with the support and participation from their parents and adults in the community. 

AKArama U will be the name for a new project offering free, once-a-week tutoring sessions for youth in math, writing, reading, along with an introduction to the philosophies. In addition, an Adult Writing Center will encourage parents and interested adults to attend and participate in the program together. Classes will take place Saturdays beginning January 12, 2013 at the AKArama Community Service Center in Chicago’s Woodlawn neighborhood.  

The program is a collaboration between the Illinois Humanities Council’s Odyssey Project, the Black Star Project and the University of Chicago’s Civic Knowledge Project.  

The program, open to youth from 5th to 8th grade, will provide small group instruction in reading, writing, and math by tutors from the Black Star Project. As a specialty subject, students from the University of Chicago’s Civic Knowledge Project will introduce youth to philosophy through practice of philosophical dialogue, the Socratic method, and public speaking, dramatic performance, and other verbal arts drawn from the humanities.  

There will also be an Adult Writing Center open for adults in conjunction with the classes, managed by the Illinois Humanities Council’s Odyssey Project, giving parents and other interested community members a chance to engage with and support the youth participants.  

The Odyssey Project which offers free college-level courses in the humanities to adults, currently operates one of its classes at the AKArama center, and helped organize this new collaboration.  

“I’m excited,” mentions Odyssey Project Director Amy Thomas Elder. “This new project will mean youth in Chicago will have access to a new perspective on learning about the humanities, and more people will find out about the individual work of our organizations.”  

AKArama U will take place Saturdays, 2-5pm beginning January 12 to March 16, 2013, and will take place at AKArama Community Services Center (6220 S. Ingleside Avenue, Chicago, 60637). Classes are free, although registration is required. To register, contact Jami Becka at the Black Star Youth Project at (773) 285-9600, or For more information about the Adult Writing Center, contact Amy Thomas Elder, director of The Odyssey Project (312) 422-5580 or   

About The Odyssey Project
The Odyssey Project is a program of the Illinois Humanities Council in partnership with the Clemente Course in the Humanities, offering free college-level introductory course in the humanities in Chicago and Champaign, Illinois. Alumni and current students from The Odyssey Project, which has classes at AKArama, will run the Adult Writing Center.   

About the Black Star Project
Founded in 1996, The Black Star Project’s mission is to provide educational services that help pre-school through college students succeed academically and become knowledgeable and productive citizens with the support of their parents, families, schools and communities. Their ongoing Saturday University program will be the template for their work with AKArama U.  

About the Civic Knowledge Project
The Civic Knowledge Project is the community connections branch of the Division of the Humanities at the University of Chicago. Their mission is to develop and strengthen community connections through top quality, humanities-based educational programming among the various communities in the South Side of Chicago. Their Winning Words program will be the template for their work with AKArama U

About the Illinois Humanities Council

The Illinois Humanities Council is an independent, nonprofit state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, dedicated to fostering a culture in which the humanities are a vital part of the lives of individuals and communities. The IHC creates programs and funds organizations that promote greater understanding of, appreciation for, and involvement in the humanities by all Illinoisans, regardless of their economic resources, cultural background, or geographic location. The IHC is supported by state, federal, and private funds.


Media Contact:
Carlos Velázquez
(312) 422-5580, x233 

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