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

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

Spring 2022 Issue

In the Loop with CUPPA Research Centers is a new, e-newsletter featuring 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)

Third-Party Logistics Outsourcing: Governance Mechanisms and their Relationship to Warehouse Workforce Systems

CUED’s research team is examining how the constraints that result from subcontracting arrangements impact both the business models and employment decisions of outsourced warehouse operators. The project, funded by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, is a mixed-methods study that tests a range of hypotheses about the about the relationships between lead firms, warehouse subcontractors, and the latter’s workforce strategies.

Mutual Aid by Latinx- and Indigenous-led Community Organizations

CUED researchers have been documenting how community organizations have provided mutual aid to vulnerable communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. This study, which features organizations from across the US highlights a range of innovative community responses to the twin public health and employment crises that have unfolded over the past two years. This project is funded by Hispanics in Philanthropy, and a final report will be released in Spring 2022.

Warehouse Work in St. Louis, MO

CUED staff have been working alongside the newly founded Missouri Workers Center to conduct research that informs organizing and policy strategy. In September, volunteers and CUED researchers designed and fielded a survey of warehouse workers in the St. Louis metropolitan area. The data will form part of a broader report on the impact of the industry on workers and the local economy. This project is funded by Jobs with Justice.

Great Cities Institute (GCI) Heading link

Great Cities Institute (GCI)

City of Chicago Budget, Community Engagement

On September 20, 2021 Mayor Lori Lightfoot unveiled her $16.7 billion budget for the City of Chicago. In the months leading up to the release of the budget, the City conducted a community engagement process and obtained the assistance of UIC’s Neighborhoods Initiative at the Great Cities Institute (GCI) to design and facilitate internal and external engagement activities and to produce a report that documented the 2022 Budget Engagement process and provided key results.

The community engagement results from the report were used by the City to inform budget decision-making. For example, engagement results such as “provide more youth wrap around services” were tied directly to budget investments, the responsible City Department(s) and specific initiative, program, or service that addressed each result. The City then produced a report that shared this information back to the public.

Government Finance Research Center (GFRC) Heading link

Government Finance Research Center (GFRC)

Water Rate Study

The Illinois General Assembly awarded the Government Finance Research Center a state appropriation in the amount of $769,000 as part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery (CSFR) Fund signed into law by President Biden with the intent of providing financial support to state governments for their responses to the impacts of COVID-19. The funding will support a three-year “Water Rate Setting Study” for the GFRC to research how municipalities and water districts establish rates, what factors influence rate adjustments, whether equity and affordability are integrated into the rate-setting process, how rate-setting varies between economically disadvantaged and economically advantaged communities, and how such variation impacts the accessibility of drinking water for community residents.

Barriers and Facilitators to Cities’ Use of Federal ARPA Dollars

The Joyce Foundation awarded the Government Finance Research Center a grant in the amount of $217,863 to support a two-year study researching the barriers and facilitators to cities’ use of federal dollars received as part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to reduce harms and racial disparities within the criminal justice system. In response to greater public awareness of racial disparities resulting from city fiscal policy choices, especially in the allocation of resources to the criminal justice system, a growing number of mayors and city councils have employed racial equity frameworks when planning how to spend ARPA funds. The study will offer a systematic look at how cities’ frameworks for using ARPA dollars to advance racial equity work in practice, as well as how local governments’ might use federal dollars to advance racial equity in the future.

Institute for Policy and Civic Engagement (IPCE) Heading link

Institute for Policy and Civic Engagement (IPCE)

IPCE to Support Community Task Force on Policing in the City of Elgin

IPCE has partnered with Kearns & West, a facilitation and strategic communications firm, to create, manage, and facilitate a Community Task Force on Policing in the City of Elgin. With the assistance of facilitators, the Community Task Force on Policing will review the policies, procedures, and practices the Elgin Police Department (EPD) employs to determine how EPD can most effectively and equitably deliver law enforcement services to all members of the community. The City of Elgin intends to undertake a process that openly and objectively examines the means and methods the EPD employs to support and sustain a safe and inclusive community and explores how those means and methods are perceived by the community. The Task Force’s ultimate objective is to make recommendations for viable solutions to enhance the EPD’s service to and relationship with Elgin’s residents, visitors, businesses, and institutions.

IPCE to Support the Healthcare Transformation Intervention Initiative

IPCE partnered with the UIC Institute for Healthcare Delivery Design, other UIC collaborators, and the Illinois Department of HealthCare and Family Services (HFS) to support its Healthcare Transformation Intervention Initiative. This initiative will make funds available to communities to dramatically transform the delivery of healthcare with the goal of making it more “person-centered, integrated, and equitable.” Recent research by UIC found that this type of transformation is necessary to overcome and reduce significant disparities in health outcomes by race and socio-economic factors in Illinois communities. IPCE will develop a set of measures of civic infrastructure that can be applied to the five different HFS geographic regions of its Integrated Care Project to account for differences in the local capacity of communities to organize themselves to respond to resource opportunities. IPCE has also conducted a literature review to identify existing efforts to measure civic infrastructure, particularly in the context of community health.

Chicago Leadership Development Directory

In 2015, IPCE published the Chicago Area Leadership Development Scan which included a directory of leadership development programs in the Chicago area. In 2021, IPCE published the Chicago Leadership Development Directory which provides an up-to-date list of leadership development programs active in Chicago. There are currently 97 programs listed in the directory, and program staff may add their own program by clicking ‘add your program’ on the directory homepage.

CPS Accountability Redesign Stakeholder Survey

Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is trying to improve the way it measures and shares information about school quality through its Accountability Redesign initiative. In partnership with Kids First Chicago, IPCE is leading the co-design and administration of the citywide stakeholder survey. Since July, IPCE has worked with students, parents, teachers, administrators, education advocates, and researchers to create a survey that is accessible, relevant, and will provide actionable results that influence final policy decisions. The survey will launch at the end of this year.

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 planning to publish three different reports this Spring. First, our “Arab Americans in Chicagoland Report” explores the conditions and experiences of Arab Americans in the metro area.  The report 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.

Chicago’s Civic Health

We are producing a report for The Chicago Community Trust analyzing Chicago’s civic health. By analyzing changes in administrative data and conducting interviews with community-based organizations, this report will examine patterns, trends, and causes of civic engagement across Chicago communities to understand how Black and Latinx Chicagoans are engaged and invested in the health of their communities.

Erroneous Parking Tickets

Finally, we are working with former IRRPP postdoctoral fellow Kasey Henricks, now a professor at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, on a project that examines patterns in the issuing of erroneous parking tickets. The report captures the material and social costs of these tickets for Chicago residents and, in particular, the disproportionate impact of those tickets on Black and Latinx Chicagoans

Urban Transportation Center (UTC) Heading link

Urban Transportation Center (UTC)

Railroad Grade Crossing Safety Study Underway

In early Fall 2021, a team of researchers from the Urban Transportation Center began conducting an at-grade highway-rail crossing pedestrian safety project sponsored by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) that’s designed to improve safety at railroad grade crossings. The study, the “Railroad-Highway Crossing (RHC) Safety Improvement Evaluation and Prioritization Tool,” required researchers to visit several sites in west suburban Chicago. The primary goal of the research is development of a model and prioritization safety tool that IDOT can use to determine potential safety improvements at highway-rail crossings. The project involves collecting data using cameras posted at many field sites to learn the number of pedestrians crossing the tracks, followed by database and model development. A report is scheduled for mid- 2022.

Research to Improve Transportation in Rural Communities

Surveys have been distributed and analyzed to provide the foundation for a research study to review rural transportation planning practices in Illinois and other surrounding states. The scope of the project is to analyze structure, collaboration between transportation providers, and sources of funding. The research team on the “Rural Planning Organizations” study designed a report template and kicked off the project with online surveys. In late fall, the team followed up to requests from recipients for additional information. Survey responses received in early 2022 were combined with U.S. Census data on nation-wide rural-urban attributes and quantities. Ongoing work in spring includes development of imagery for one-page survey templates, and drafts of reports on the survey methodology and results.

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

Nathalie P. Voorhees Center for Neighborhood and Community Improvement

Illinois Defense Industry Resiliency Program (IDIR)

Funded by the Office of Local Defense Communities Cooperation (DOD), the Voorhees Center coordinates the Illinois Defense Network (IDN). IDN includes four key defense-intensive-regions in Illinois (Rockford, Quad Cities, Peoria, and Chicago) and the state Manufacturing Excellence Partnership (IMEC). The project provides technical assistance, training, and research support to help enhance the resiliency of the defense-manufacturing sector in the state.

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.


The EDA CARES project team, coordinated by the Voorhees Center, is comprised of a broad base of EDOs representing four regions in the state (Chicago, Quad Cities, Rockford, and Peoria). The focus of the project is to mitigate adverse impact of the coronavirus pandemic, and to support recovery efforts.

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.

Poverty and Homelessness in Illinois

As part of effort coordinated by the Institute of Government and Public Affairs (IGPA), the Voorhees Center provides data analysis support to the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS), Commission on Poverty Elimination and Task Force on Homelessness and Housing Insecurity. IDHS units are in the process of developing reports on the state of poverty, housing insecurity and homelessness in Illinois.