Student wears a t-shirt that reads "I am a public problem solver."

The American Council on Education announced today that Wright College has received its 2024 Carnegie Elective Classification for Community Engagement. The classification recognizes colleges and universities throughout the United States for their efforts to engage with their larger communities.

Seal reads "Carnegie Foundation Elective Classifications: Classification for Community Engagement"

Wright College is the only community college in Illinois that currently holds the Carnegie Elective Classification for Community Engagement. Forty U.S. colleges and universities received the classification as part of the 2024 cycle, joining 328 other institutions across the country. Wright will hold its classification until 2032.

“Community engagement is a top priority for Wright College, and this classification showcases our efforts to build strong community partnerships and programs that serve our city’s residents. Working with organizations both in the neighborhood and throughout the nation, our students, faculty, and staff are making an impact,” said David Potash, PhD, president of Wright College.

Wright collaborates with a variety of area schools, non-profit organizations, businesses, and more to better serve local residents. For nearly a decade, the college has partnered with nearby Vaughn Occupational High School to offer a non-credit program for students with cognitive and intellectual disabilities. Other partners include businesses like Eli’s Cheesecake, where Wright has offered English as a Second Language (ESL) classes for 30 years, and non-profits like the Greater Chicago Food Depository, which partners with the college to operate a food pantry for students on campus.

Additionally, through community-based grant programs, Wright is working to support local residents as they further their education. The Wright JobHire initiative, funded through the Workforce Equity Initiative (WEI) grant from the Illinois Community College Board, has allowed the college to offer short-term, job-focused programs to Black, unemployed, and underemployed residents. Another grant-funded program, the Avanza Transitional Bilingual Program, is supporting ESL students from area high schools as they strengthen their English and math skills and enter college. The program is supported by federal Title V funding through a collaborative Northeastern Illinois University and Wright College grant.

President David Potash speaks to a group of community members from a podium.
President David Potash speaks to a group of community members during a community roundtable event.

Wright’s commitment to community engagement can be seen in the classroom, too. For years, the college has offered “service learning” courses, where students complete community-engaged coursework throughout the semester. During the 2022-2023 academic year, the college offered 30 such classes, and student efforts spanned from completing projects for non-profit organizations, to performing advocacy work on important issues, to conducting research for the U.S. Department of State. On the employee side, Wright organizes an annual day of service, during which faculty and staff spend the day volunteering at a local community-based organization.

Due to Wright’s efforts to serve and engage the community, the college has received several awards and recognitions in recent years, including Excelencia in Education’s prestigious Seal of Excelencia, Campus Compact’s Eduardo J. Padrón Award for Institutional Transformation, and Campus Vote Project and NASPA’s “Voter Friendly Campus” designation.

To learn more about the 2024 Carnegie Elective Classification for Community Engagement, please visit https://carnegieclassifications.acenet.edu/news/carnegie-2024-community-engagement-classifications/.