This year’s theme, “ReTHINK: Policy and Prosperity for the Future of Cities,” will explore latest urban policy research and approaches to furthering health, education, and economic opportunity in a post-COVID world.

Kicking off in late June, the Harris School of Public Policy will host its fifth annual Summer of Social Impact, its signature summer initiative designed to spark cross-sector dialogue and engagement among researchers, policymakers, and civic leaders as they examine new ideas and policy approaches to improve life in Chicago and cities around the world. Launched in 2017, Summer of Social Impact has grown into a multimodal experience of events, storytelling, and other engagement opportunities.

This year’s initiative, entitled “ReTHINK: Policy and Prosperity for the Future of Cities,” will be anchored by three public events that examine the intertwined issues of health, education, and economic opportunity as American cities look to the post-COVID world. Through in-depth discussion on critical challenges and opportunities in these areas, Summer of Social Impact will explore the latest research and evidence-based policy reforms with the potential to reduce inequality and strengthen urban policies and systems. The public events are:

JUNE: “Preventing a Post-COVID Housing Crisis in Chicago”

  • Join Inclusive Economy Lab on June 30th for a conversation with partners from the Chicago Department of Housing and The Resurrection Project on their efforts to ensure that the COVID-19 health crisis does not result in a housing crisis for Chicago’s Black and Latinx communities. The conversation will explore the role of unrestricted cash and rental assistance programs and the innovative ways the Lab is supporting this work through research.

JULY: “First-Response for Chicagoans Experiencing Addiction and Mental Health Crises”

  • Join Health Lab for a look into the challenges and innovations in first-response for Chicagoans. Cities across America are seeking safer and more effective ways to assist people experiencing addiction and mental health crises. Chicago is now piloting alternative first responses to improve prevention and follow-up, and to reduce the risks of violence or arrests in such encounters.

AUGUST: “High-Intensity Tutoring and the Great Post-COVID Student Catchup”

  • Join Education Lab and its non-profit partner, SAGA Education, as they share exciting new research on the effectiveness of Saga Education’s high-intensity tutoring model and the implications of these findings for American public schools in the context of the post-pandemic world.

In addition to the three public events planned for 2021, Harris faculty will host SSI Salons to convene scholars, practitioners, and partners across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. Professor Christopher Berry and the Center for Municipal Finance and Professor Ariel Kalil and the Behavioral Insights and Parenting Lab will take attendees through work underway and further explore questions of equity on topics ranging from property tax reform to early childhood development and education. Storytelling efforts throughout the summer will engage audiences in the work of Harris Policy Labs, Energy & Environment Lab, and others from across the community committed to enhancing urban life. 

Other public programs will be hosted through “Re-Imagine Chicago,” an events and content partnership between the school’s Center for Effective Government and WBEZ 91.5 FM’s daily talk show Reset, to explore how institutions and systems operate in Chicago and how they might work to better serve Chicago residents in the future. 

The fifth annual Summer of Social Impact is presented by the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy in partnership with the UChicago Urban Network and University of Chicago Office of Civic Engagement, and the school’s affiliated labs and centers.

Registration will open in mid-June. To learn more about the Summer of Social Impact and register for events, visit the Summer of Social Impact webpage.

About the Harris School of Public Policy

For more than three decades, the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy has been steadfastly committed to advancing policy based on evidence, not ideology. Guided by this exacting perspective, our exceptional community of scholars, students, and nearly 4,000 alumni take on the world’s most important problems using the latest tools of social science. As the second-largest professional school at the University of Chicago, Harris Public Policy offers a full range of degree and executive education programs to empower a new generation of data-driven leaders to create a real social impact throughout our global society. This is Harris Public Policy: Social Impact, Down to a Science.

About the UChicago Urban Network

The UChicago Urban Network brings together more than 20 schools, centers and initiatives from across the University to promote the urban ideas and programs transforming Chicago and cities around the world. As a global leader in urban research and impact, the University of Chicago is confronting the most significant challenges cities face with rigorous scholarship and engaged practice, focused on the critical areas of economic development, public safety, public health, education, environmental sustainability and equity. The UChicago Urban Network is committed to advancing the future of cities and enriching urban life through data-driven science, fundamental ideas, innovative policy solutions and immersive community engagement.

About the Office of Civic Engagement

The Office of Civic Engagement (OCE) advances the University’s commitment to the city of Chicago and the South Side, supporting other academic and administrative units as they develop their distinct civic priorities. It also leads strategic programs that extend the University’s reach and impact by directly serving more than 1,000 Chicagoans annually. Working with community partners, OCE strengthens community organizations and small businesses, improves access to education, and connects residents to jobs — all with the goal of advancing economic and social progress in neighboring communities and the city as a whole.