CCA Academy Partnership

A group listens to a performance in a park


CCA Academy is a high school located in Chicago's North Lawndale Community. Since 1978, CCA Academy provides non-traditional students, ages 17-21, a chance to earn a high school diploma and the training needed to seek gainful employment. Since 2019, SAIC at Homan Square has partnered up with CCA to create projects benefiting the students, and the North Lawndale neighborhood at large. SAIC supports CCA students by collaborating with artists and designers in non-hierarchical ways, supporting outreach, project management and building collaborative relationships between faculty, artists, and North Lawndale residents.

The first collaboration between SAIC and CCA was “Perma Park Food Forest'', a CCA student-designed "food forest" and urban farm that addresses North Lawndale's lack of access to fresh food. It allows students to explore practical green-workforce skills and use hands-on learning to brainstorm solutions and address the problems of living in a food desert. The following artists have all worked in PermaPark on shorter small-scale projects: Odile Compagnon, Howard Peller, Pete Poli, Heather Haskins, Eric Widitz and The Bittertang Farm. More info on Perma Park can be found here:

In 2019, SAIC (artists Bo Rodda and Eric Hotchkiss) worked with CCA to create the “I AM”  Speaker through a series of workshops that culminated in a public art installation and used science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) concepts as the core of its creation. The installation is a solar-powered speaker camouflaged as limestone rock in the park, which plays recordings captured by students from CCA who respond to the prompt, “I am…".

In Summer 2021, the institutions partnered up with the Chicago Architecture Biennial and the Danish Arts Foundation to create the “Soil Lab Project”, built in collaboration with locals on a vacant lot on 1310 S. Pulaski Avenue. Soil Lab is an outdoor kiln and ceramics workshop that aims to foster community-making by activating the lab with workshops related to crafts, producing and designing.

SAIC at Homan Square looks forward to continuing the partnership with CCA Academy in the future.