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Grassroots Community Tours Program

OVERVIEW (download program documents below)  

Imagine taking a thought-provoking and engaging tour of a local community/neighborhood while learning stories of historic struggles, sites of cultural upliftment, and locations of current importance from residents across many diverse communities/neighborhoods. Then imagine those tour guides being led completely by motivated local students The Grassroots Community Tours program does this, by putting students in the driver's seat as they generate their own critical local tours. SEE HOW AND WHY...

Student-designed tours will serve three important purposes:

  1. students design and host a community tour, then they give the tour to their own teachers and families to increase community awareness, encourage curriculum relevance, and transform perspectives;
  2. students exchange tours with other youth groups across Chicago to share culturally, build relationships, increase spacial knowledge, seek common ground, and break down historic barriers; and,
  3. the knowledge generated by student observations and research will be disseminated in a variety of ways including, with family permission, future CGCT curricular publications and on this website.


  • Students generate their own community tour driven by their own lives, community stories and systemic analysis. Highlights from 10+ local sites are featured through ethnographic study with personal experiences, observations, data gathering, and group analysis engaged by everyone.
  • Two bookend events at the Goodman Theater (Sep 28, 2013 and May, 2014) are annually in place to first launch and train then showcase the year's student generated knowledge and storytelling.
  • Online and site-based supports (e.g., presentations) are provided directly to teachers and students via Google Community.
  • Students, with supports offered by CGCT and CPS, then capture, design, publish (in-print and online), distribute, promote, and utilize their own tours.
  • Students exchange tour field trips with students from other school communities (beginning in 2014-2015).
  • Tours are featured and in a variety of ways to educate both youth and adults across the city about Chicago's communities. Outlets may include school websites, local media, museums, our clearinghouse, and publications.


  • Ethnographic research
  • Storytelling and theater
  • Contextualization / connection-making
  • Interviewing
  • Surveying
  • Geographic mapping
  • Demographic / statistical analysis
  • Informative, persuasive, and creative writing
  • Problem solving
  • Peer editing
  • Photography
  • Videography (optional)
  • Graphic design (optional)
  • Web design (optional)
  • Effective presentation
  • Self- and community- advocacy
  • Community action-taking

3 WAYS TO PARTICIPATE (all free):  

  1. Download the materials and run with it! Be in touch with us via email. We can provide support if you'd like.
  2. Join the 2013-14 program in collaboration with Goodman Theater and CPS (a few slots remaining).
  3. Wait until the program returns in 2014-15 and register then (Open registration starts on March 6, 2014).



Bring the Grassroots Community Tours program to your classroom or group by supporting students and families as authentic sources of local knowledge and action. Inquire about program opportunities with or just download the SIGN UP FORM (above). Complete this form and scan / email to or fax it to 773.275.2428, attn GCT Program.



Call: 773.275.2428 (CGCT) and leave a message with your school/group, community, and inquiry and we'll happily get back to you as soon as we can.