UChicago Impact believes that fostering a supportive environment for students, teachers, and the entire school community is imperative to our students' academic success. Bolstering a supportive environment is not only a tenet of our partnerships, but is also at the core of our organizational culture.
Achieving our organization’s vision will be unattainable without the commitment of our entire team. Our systems of support (STEP, 5Essentials, and Cultivate) would not be as effective without our staff’s contributions, passion and dedication. Impact’s work to improve student learning outcomes begins with providing our own staff with a workplace that positions them for success. UChicago Impact endeavors to create an environment that supports our team's emotional and physical needs, individual identities, growth, goals, personal obligations, and other factors related to maintaining a productive and healthy work-life balance.
These are some of the key approaches UChicago Impact follows to foster a supportive environment.
Naming Our Values
We believe that when an individual names what is important to them it gives those priorities space to materialize, be fostered and translate into our practices. Our organization did this by outlining UChicago Impact’s core values. For example, we believe that People are our Greatest Asset. We uphold this value by engaging with colleagues and partners in a manner that shows respect, gratitude, and integrity. We embrace the diversity of our staff and partners as key to meeting our greatest potential. We support one another and encourage work-life balance to establish a positive, collaborative, and productive work environment. You can read about our Core Values here.
Creating Policies that Promote Wellness and Safety
UChicago Impact is committed to creating and enforcing workplace policies that reflect the needs of our community. We advocate for our staff and their needs. We support policies that are not solely for the benefit of the organization, but also support and protect our staff. Further, we strive to keep our policies relevant and appropriate for current times. We regularly revisit and revise policies to ensure they match the contemporary needs of employees and their families. We’re proud to say that UChicago Impact was the first organization within The University of Chicago to establish a paid parental leave policy. From remote work schedules to generous paid time off and sick day allotments to extended holiday breaks, our policies are designed to promote a healthy work-life balance and a safe environment, both physically and emotionally.
Supporting Our BIPOC Community
UChicago Impact stands in solidarity with Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). As an organization dedicated to quality teaching and learning, we know that real, meaningful change starts with educating ourselves about the lived experiences, oppression, and needs of the BIPOC community. Our team is committed to that learning and, most importantly, responding to and correcting conditions and policies that do not support or may even oppress our BIPOC colleagues and partners. We promise to approach this critical work with vulnerability and empathy and are grateful to those in our community who have made themselves vulnerable to help us learn and grow as an organization.
Bringing Voices to the Table and Listening to Them
We know there is no one right way or prescribed way of creating a supportive environment; doing so is a process that requires vulnerability, reflection, and continuous improvement. However, creating a genuinely supportive and equitable environment begins with listening to understand where and how individuals need to be supported. At UChicago Impact, we are intentional about facilitating regular opportunities for colleagues to be heard. Staff are encouraged to voice their concerns, provide constructive feedback, and share their experiences. Be it staff meetings, unit statuses, check-ins, or the organization of committees, these engagements allow us to shape an environment that is supportive of the real, diverse needs of our team members.
UChicago Impact is committed to cultivating a supportive environment so that our employees can succeed and grow. We acknowledge that we are not perfect and we may fall short at times. We expect to support each other and continue to learn, both at the organizational and individual level, as we strive to achieve this vision.