Your browser is unsupported

We recommend using the latest version of IE11, Edge, Chrome, Firefox or Safari.

In The Loop with CUPPA’s Research Centers – Fall 2022

Research Newsletter Header image of a city scape, phone, and fingers selecting image of the city from the phone

Fall 2022 Issue

In the Loop with CUPPA Research Centers features the ongoing research of centers in the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs. Circulated twice yearly to faculty, staff, and students in the college, In the Loop provides a look at center work and projects.

Center for Urban Economic Development (CUED) Heading link

Center for Urban Economic Development (CUED)

Real Black Utopias

CUED researchers have been mapping Black-led solidarity economy ecosystems in cities across the US. This study, funded by the Wellspring Philanthropic Fund and the Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing, examines infrastructures, ideologies, resource mobilization, and strategies of Real Black Utopias, place-based prefigurative projects rooted in economic democracy and contentious politics. We explore factors that advance or thwart enabling environments for the solidarity economy movement in Black communities.

Workplace Surveillance

CUED researchers are launching the first National Survey of Amazon Workers this fall. Applying a racial justice and intersectional lens, this survey project aims to provide a nationally representative picture of surveillance and other working conditions at Amazon, the economic security of Amazon’s workforce, and prospects for collective action. This project is being undertaken in collaboration with the National Employment Law Project, Roosevelt Institute, and workers’ rights organizations.

Freedom is a Place

Along with Katherine McKittrick (Canada Research Chair in Black Studies), CUED co-hosted the conference Freedom is a Place: Celebrating the Scholarship, Writing, and Organizing of Ruth Wilson Gilmore. The event, which was funded by the Antipode Foundation, brought together a dozen scholars to engage Gilmore’s work around the themes of “surplus,” “empire,” and “storytelling.”

Great Cities Institute (GCI) Heading link

Great Cities Institute (GCI)

The Talking Tree Becomes a Reality

On Friday, November 18th, the Great Cities Institute (GCI) will join partners to unveil The Talking Tree, a public art sculpture designed by Derric Clemmons in collaboration with students from Epic Academy and other local artists. This project includes the sculpture and its settings including two mosaic benches. Derric Clemmons was awarded DCASE’s Neighborhood Access Grant, which was created from the City’s COVID-19 relief fund designed to employ local artists to work on projects in the communities they live in.

The Talking Tree is part of The Underline project, which is a plaza under the Chicago Skyway at Commercial Avenue and 94th Street. This plaza is an outcome of GCI’s continuing engagement with the Southeast Side of Chicago that started with the South Chicago Commercial Avenue Revitalization Planpublished in 2016. GCI is facilitating the partnerships that are making this plaza a reality. Partners include (or have included) State Senator Robert Peters, 10th Ward Alderwoman Susan Sadlowski Garza, Special Service Area #5, the Veterans Park Improvement Association, Chicago Public Art Group, South Worx Arte Group (Derric Clemmons), Calumet Collaborative, UIC School of Architecture, and other stakeholders. The unveiling of The Talking Tree is an important step in bringing to life the Underline Project and the innovative use of public space.

Government Finance Research Center (GFRC) Heading link

Government Finance Research Center (GFRC)


The GFRC has recently welcomed a new associate director, Dr. Christelle Khalaf, an applied microeconomist working at the intersection of economic development and the energy transition. It has also welcomed, a postdoctoral research associate, Dr. Laura Medwid, whose areas of interest include natural resource economics, public policy relating to water rate setting, and equity in household water access. Finally, Dan Huang, a first-year doctoral student of Public Administration, joined Jason Michnick, doctoral student of Public Administration and Brooke Wetmore, master’s student of Public Administration, as research assistants. The team is led by the GFRC director, Dr. Deborah A. Carroll, an associate professor of Public Administration whose research focuses on financial management and fiscal policy issues of state and local governments.

Water Rate Setting Study

The GFRC continues to work on the Water Rate Setting Study for the Illinois General Assembly.  As a preparatory step, the GFRC assembled a primer that provides a preliminary review of water bills, rate structures, drivers of costs, and rate setting processes. In addition, the GFRC has released a data portalthat will be updated periodically to reflect research progress. This portal currently includes a Drinking Water Provision Map illustrating the dynamics of high concentration of municipal water utilities and a shared water source in Northeastern Illinois. This project will culminate in two separate reports: one focused on Northeastern Illinois and the other focused on the remainder of the state.

Institute for Policy and Civic Engagement (IPCE) Heading link

Illinois Muslims Report for the Illinois Muslim Coalition Released

IPCE partnered with The Illinois Muslim Coalition to develop the Illinois Muslims Report. The report presents an empirical assessment of the strengths and struggles of the Illinois Muslim community, with a comparison to the Illinois general public. View the Illinois Muslim Report webpage here. View the accompanying presentation from the July 28 release event here.

Community Focus Group Special Report for the Chicago Police Consent Decree Released

IPCE completed a community focus group report for the Independent Monitoring Team for the Chicago Police Consent Decree, led by Maggie Hickey. The Independent Monitoring Team submitted the Special Report: Focus Groups with Black and Latino Men, Ages 18–35 (Conducted December 2020 – June 2021) under ¶ 665 of the Consent Decree, which gives the IMT the authority to “prepare written reports on any issue or set of issues covered by the [Consent Decree].” This report presents results from a series of community focus groups with Black and Latino men in Chicago, ages 18–35. The focus groups were conducted between December 2020 and June 2021 by researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago and Adler University. View the full Special Report here. The corresponding press release from September 1, 2022 is available here.

Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy (IRRPP) Heading link

Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy (IRRPP)

State of Racial Justice in Chicago Project

IRRPP is working on a series of reports. In January, we will publish our “Arab Americans in Chicagoland Report.” The report explores the conditions and experiences of Arab Americans in the metro area and discusses the problem of federal, state, and local government agencies classifying Arab Americans as Caucasian/White while simultaneously relying on systems of racial profiling that target and criminalize Arab American communities.

We are also working on a report focused on educational issues that has as its goal to both describe patterns of inequity in education and to advance our collective understanding about the mechanisms of racial inequity related to schools. The report will spotlight the following: 1) education inequity (synthesizing existing data and drawing on publicly available data to provide up-to-date statistics on inequity), 2) education policy (important milestones in contemporary education policy and how it works) and, 3) how the education justice movement has responded to promote racial justice.

In addition to work on our reports, we continue to support campus research and have awarded six dissertation research grants, have 15 faculty fellows currently working on IRRPP funded projects, and are currently reviewing an exciting group of fellowship applications for the coming year. Our ongoing programming for faculty and students includes Policy 101 workshops to increase the capacity of researchers to engage with public audiences about their research, our Embodied Inequalities series to discuss why race matters for health, as well as our annual Bowman lecture — save the date of April 20th, 4-6pm for Shawn Ginwright, Professor of Education who will talk about his work to engage youth of color and adult allies in transforming their schools and communities.

Urban Transportation Center (UTC) Heading link

Urban Transportation Center (UTC)

The Role of Rural Planning Organizations in Local Transportation Planning

Rural Planning Organizations (RPOs) are generally defined as voluntary associations of local stakeholders that plan rural transportation systems, identify local needs, advise local governments, and support statewide transportation planning process in nonmetropolitan regions. Given the voluntary nature of such organizations, there is high variability of roles and structures in the nation.

The primary scope of a UTC study underway is to identify RPOs in Illinois and current practices of rural transportation planning in other states. The research will inform the Illinois Department of Transportation about best practices of coordination with RPOs, the functioning of these organizations, and gaps and redundancies of their operations in Illinois.

The IDOT- funded research investigates current practices, with an in-depth analysis of roles, activities, funding, and coordination mechanisms between RPOs and IDOT. The goal is to facilitate their inclusion into the planning process, especially for areas without representation, and foster the rural programs development process. Moreover it explores existing coordination methods and rural planning organization practices in other states, to propose recommendations from case studies where rural planning process has been consistently incorporated into transportation planning at the DOT level.

The study includes two surveys: 1) Targeting RPOs identified in Illinois. 2) Rural planning managers from state DOTs nationwide. Results will include a state-by-state review of existing rural planning practices around the nation. This will let researchers reflect on the effectiveness of coordination between RPOs and DOTs; recommendations will help IDOT tackle rural planning challenges in Illinois. The report is currently being drafted and will be finalized by year end.

Nathalie P. Voorhees Center for Neighborhood and Community Improvement Heading link

Nathalie P. Voorhees Center for Neighborhood and Community Improvement

Illinois Defense Manufacturing Consortium (ILDMC)

A coalition led by the UIC Voorhees Center applied for designation of four regions (Rockford, Quad Cities, Peoria, and Chicago) in Central and Northeastern Illinois as Defense Manufacturing Community (DMC). The application was approved and UIC received a Grant of $5 million for five years by the Office of Local Defense Community Cooperation (OLDCC) to promote productivity of casting and forging manufacturers through innovation and workforce development. Project activities include outreach, applied research and technical assistance implemented by six consortium members including the UIC Voorhees Center.

EDA University Center

The Voorhees Center is a designated EDA University Center with a mandate to promote green economic development in the Chicago Region. The Center provides technical assistance and applied research support to businesses, local government and economic development organizations to promote clean energy and green economic development in the Calumet Region and beyond.

Point-in-Time Homeless Count

The City of Chicago Department of Family and Support Services is required to annually conduct, and report point-in-time count of the homeless in shelters and on the streets. For over ten years, the Voorhees Center has been providing support to the city, analyzing data and producing reports for submission to the federal government every year.

American Disabilities ACT Participation Action Research Center (ADA-PARC)

The Voorhees Center collaborates with UIC Disability Studies, Americans with Disability Act centers, and researchers around the country to develop systematic ways to map and measure the degree to which people with disabilities integrate into their communities. The Center is part of a national collaborative funded by the National Institute of Disability and Independent Living Research and Rehabilitation Program.


The UIC Voorhees Center periodically conducts economic impact analysis for various entities. Currently, it is conducting analysis evaluating the economic impact of expenditure by NASA and its various programs (Moon to Mars; Climate Change) on the nation as a whole and on each state.