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Uptown in the News  

May 16, 2003
Chicago Tribune
Activism classes set for new citizens
By Oscar Avila, Tribune staff reporter

An Uptown-based social service agency, the Cambodian Association of Illinois, is participating in a school to train new citizens in civic activism. The program is funded, in large part, by a grant from the Ford Foundation.

The Civitas school, which opens Friday in a Ravenswood church, is meant to address concern that immigrants immerse themselves in civics and English classes to pass naturalization exams, only to discard their interest in government afterward. Organizers envision Civitas as a "graduate-level" curriculum that goes beyond theorectical learning abut the U.S. Constitution and other democratic principles to include practival skills such as how to work with the media.

Civitas is believed to be the first full-scale facililtly in the country to train new citizens in civic activism. It will be modeled after the schools that energized the civil rights movement of the 1960's.

The Coalition of African, Asian, European & Latino Immigrants of Illinois, which includes 19 agencies, will operate the school. Planners hope to enroll more than 1,000 students in the school at Ravenswood Presbyterian Church, 4300 N. Hermitage Avenue. They have not yet decided how much tuition, if any, they will charge.

To view the entire article for a fee, please visit the Chicago Tribune website at www.chicagotribune.com.

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