Urban Initiatives programs are designed
to provide a healing-centered environment that allow youth to build critical social emotional learning skills that will translate to the classroom and beyond
Learn about our programs
Urban Initiatives offers a number of programs to impact youth:
Professional Development Workshops
Click here for full information about our entire catalog of programs.
Ready to sign up?
Browse our FAQ to learn more about our programs or reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to connect with our team.
Q: Which funds in my school budget are eligible to apply to each of your services?
A: We know this can be complicated – guidance coming soon!
Q: I have money left over in my budget this year. Can I pay you now for services next year?
A: In some cases, yes! There are even certain circumstances where you can split funding for a single program between two school years. Both situations are dependent on a number of factors and are best handled on a case-by-case basis. If you’d like to discuss this possibility further for your school, please email email@example.com.
Q: I don’t have 6 hours of recess at my school, is it possible to pay half the price to have a Recess Coach for just 3 hours/day?
A: Our Recess Coaches must be employed for 6 hours/day at a single school site, as they are meant to be fully immersed in and part of the school community. During non-recess hours, our Recess Coaches can support your school in a myriad of ways including but not limited to: assisting in a classroom, leading small group interventions, performing administrative tasks, etc. We’ll work with you directly to determine what the specific needs of your school are to ensure the Recess Coach’s extra time is spent.
Q: Can you do training for my whole staff?
A: I’m glad you asked- YES. One of the newer services UI provides is professional development workshops for school staff, which can be targeted to your school’s needs.
Q: Will I have a say in the person being hired to support my school?
A: Recess Coach hiring is a three-part process: 1) candidate vetting and application process, 2) review of school needs, 3) matching. As UI completes the hiring process (which consists of a phone screen, interviews, and a situational assessment), we also complete a school partner profile based on discussions with you about the needs and priorities of your school. We then match candidates with schools that would be the best fit. Once we’ve matched you with a Recess Coach, you will have the opportunity to meet them prior to their hire date. If you are not happy with your match selection you may request to see additional matches. UI will try to honor this request but cannot guarantee availability of additional matches.
Q: What happens if my Recess Coach is absent?
A: If your Recess Coach is absent we will send a substitute in their place. If there are no substitutes available, we will reimburse you for the day.
Q: How do you document accidents or incidents that occur during recess?
A: We follow the school’s reporting procedure for documenting accidents and incidents, and also ensure the appropriate personnel on the ground are informed in real time. We then follow up with completing an incident/accident report for UI as well.
Q: Can a member of the LSC be my school’s Recess Coach?
A: No, since the Recess Coach is a paid position that would be a conflict of interest in accordance with the CPS LSC ethics policy which states that no member can have economic interest or contracts with the school where they serve.
Q: My school doesn’t need any additional equipment – can we reduce the invoice by $1,000?
A: No; we want to ensure that our Recess Coaches are empowered to make purchasing decisions throughout the year that will enhance the recess space and ensure we are delivering high quality, varied, and FUN experiences to students throughout the year.
Q: We don’t have a coach, will you post the job and hire one for us?
A: The best soccer programs are coached by people who are already in the school community. Someone like a teacher assistant, a teacher, a security guard, or even that amazing parent volunteer- these people know the school, know the kids, know the families. Hiring an external person to come in after school does not yield the same high quality partnership. We can help you develop recruitment materials and talk with candidates you recommend. Additionally, all coaches receive training, curriculum, materials, and ongoing management to ensure they feel fully supported in this role, even if they don’t come in with much coaching experience!
Q: I want to continue the program but don’t have enough funds this year, do you offer scholarships?
A: UI knows budgets ebb and flow. We place deep value on the sustainability of partnerships over time and want to sustain our student relationships and services as often as possible. Each year there are some funds we reserve for scholarships for exactly this reason, but the amount we have at our disposal also ebbs and flows, so a scholarship is never a guarantee. We also ask schools who are seeking scholarships to pay as much as you are able, even if it’s not the full program cost. If you would like to inquire further about seeking a scholarship for your school please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: We want to do the program but don’t have space. Can the students practice at the park district that’s down the street?
A: Yes! The school, UI, and local park district can partner together – we have all collaborated in this way at a few school sites in the past. A school staff member and UI Program Manager can contact the nearby park district and fill out a partnership proposal form. Soccer practices can also be held before school instead of after school, and this has helped schools in the past with space restrictions.
Take the Lead (TTL)
Q: We have middle schoolers who are on the CPS soccer team and can’t attend all UI practices, can they still participate?
A: Yes! It is highly encouraged that these students still participate, since the topics covered in their huddles will be applicable to both soccer spaces. We will work with your school to adapt the model to fit this scenario such that participating students are still receiving the mentorship and leadership experience that is the crux of the program. Students can coordinate with their respective coaches and TTL Manager to find a schedule that works.
Q: Who chooses the students that make up the Captain cohort?
A: Usually our Captain cohorts are made up of 5th-8th graders who have participated in previous years in OST Soccer and have been recognized by their coach as being leaders of their team. The OST Soccer coach is also encouraged to invite other 5th-8th graders to participate in TTL and help support practice. We are also open captains from other sports joining our cohort to help improve their leadership skills. Occasionally schools will have a specific group in mind, for example students in the Student Government.
Q: What sort of commitment is expected of the Captains in TTL?
A: As leaders of their soccer team and school, it is essential that TTL Captains demonstrate a strong commitment to the OST Soccer team through attendance and participation. In addition, students are strongly encouraged to attend as many Huddles and Retreats as possible to ensure that they are receiving the full program experience.
Q: I have some Kindergarteners who are also interested in being on the soccer team – is this for Pre-K only?
A: For the 2023-24 school year the program will be for Pre-K only. As one of our newer services, we want to hone in on the ECE/Pre-K specialization in the short term, though we hope to eventually build out our continuum of services to include Kindergarteners & 1st graders in the future!
Q: This program was fully funded by CPS’ ECE Office last year – why does it cost money this year?
A: The ECE soccer program was funded that way during the 2022-23 school year because it was a pilot. Now that ECE is part of our standard program offerings, we are not guaranteed transitional funding support from CPS. We are still in communication with OECE, so there is a chance the pricing could be subsidized in the coming months.
Q: Our parents speak diverse languages. Do you offer these workshops in (another language)?
A: That’s great! We have offered workshops in partnership with school translation services in lots of different languages. We offer facilitation directly in Spanish and English, but no other languages at this time. We’d be happy to work with your school team to facilitate a bilingual workshop and provide materials early so that your team can translate them.
Q: Our school is dealing with a particular issue that we want to connect with parents on, but it doesn’t seem to fit into any of the options on the menu. Can you customize workshops?
A: We know that the best learning takes place when it’s targeted to what people are going through. We are happy to speak directly to the issues in your school community, and tailor our topics to the specific context of your school’s parents.
Professional Development Workshops
Q: I’m interested in having a PD session led by UI for my staff, but I don’t see a workshop option that fits my needs exactly. Can you customize?
A: Yes! We are happy to work with your school team to determine PD workshop content that will be the best fit for your staff and school community needs.
Q: We want to host Summer Camp this year but our building will be under construction. Can we offer camp at a different location?
A: Yes! If you identify another location that has sufficient indoor/outdoor space, access to bathrooms and water.
Q: We want to host Summer Camp this year but aren’t sure if we have the coaching staff for it – what can we do?
A: Definitely register for Summer Camp if you want the programming at your school! While we love having coaches from the host school, it’s not required, and we have a bigger pool of potential coaching staff for summer programming. UI will ensure your Summer Camp is appropriately staffed.