Great City, Great Tradition
In 1993, the University of Illinois at Chicago created the UIC Great Cities Institute (GCI) to work within the communities surrounding UIC and UI Health. It was designed to improve the health and welfare of the communities and organizations served. After many years of success, it was decided that the initiative become an integral program and therefore was renamed the “UIC Office of Community Engagement and Neighborhood Health Partnerships” (OCEAN-HP).
In the beginning a small staff (13 employees) operated on a multi-disciplinary and campus-wide level brokering partnerships between community organizations and UIC faculty, units, and colleges. The program has, in recent years, expanded to the current 80 employees.
During the early formative years, OCEAN-HP was housed and staffed primarily on the UIC east campus. In 2000, Dr. Cynthia Barnes-Boyd assumed the role as the Director of OCEAN-HP. Prior to creating the Office of Community and Neighborhood Health Partnerships (previously called Neighborhoods Initiative), Dr. Boyd served as UIC Director of Community Health where her work was centered predominantly on the west campus. In 2003 Dr. Boyd combine both campus projects to form one office that was housed in the College of Nursing. In 2015 OCEAN-HP relocated to a new space located in the re-purposed Student Resident hall on the west campus.
Since its inception, OCEAN-HP has received more than 35 grants totaling over $13.8 million from federal, state and foundation sources for its innovative and comprehensive approach to neighborhood development, institutional commitments and university-community-government partnerships. OCEAN-HP has also received local and national recognition for its achievement.
OCEAN-HP is currently active in several community research and service projects that include faculty, students, staff, Community Based Organizations (CBOs), schools, business, and health and social service organizations in Chicago neighborhoods. These projects, to be described later, range from Federally funded programs with a focus on maternal and infant mortality and nutrition/physical activity education and capacity building to operating five (5) school based health centers as a part of the UI Health Mile Square Federally Qualified Health Center Enterprise.