Honoring an American hero 

Students celebrate a civil rights leader through service-learning.

March 09, 2009

Today, CPS students are responding to the call to serve in powerful ways. During the month of March, more than 1,200 CPS high school students will take up the mantle of civil rights leader Cesar E. Chavez by serving their neighborhoods and communities.


In classrooms across the City of Chicago, students will learn about Chavez and the civil rights movement that he led, and then choose from more than 60 service project opportunities.


Students will spend the month participating in a variety of service-learning activities, including:


  • Gathering immigrant stories. Students from three different schools (Kelly, Curie, and CDA) will write stories that will be edited and complied into a published document with the help of What Kids Can Do. The stories will also be read on-air on Radio Arte 90.5, a youth-led radio station in Pilsen.
  • Helping immigrants prepare for citizenship on March 21 at the Northwest Neighborhood Federation, 4924 W. Addison St.
  • Preparing, sorting, and distributing food for the Greater Chicago Food Depository , a local organization that distributes donated and purchased food through a network of 600 food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters to 500,000 adults and children every year.
  • Advocating for public transportation and parks. Students will have opportunities to join neighborhood residents in advocating for open park space in Little Village, where there is a lack of green space, as well as for viable public transportation opportunities for young people. 
  • Creating murals with elementary students. High school students helped elementary students beautify their own after-school program with a Cesar Chavez Mural on March 7 at Casa Juan Diego.


Chavez was a community organizer responsible for leading the first farm workers union in American history. He led successful strikes and boycotts that resulted in the first industry-wide labor contracts in the history of American agriculture.


As a culmination to the month of service, 500 CPS students will gather at Juarez Community Academy, 2100 S Laflin St., for a day of action and reflection. They will learn about organizing, teatro campesino, and political art, and then march through the streets of Pilsen for the third annual Cesar E. Chavez Commemorative March. 


Learn more about our Service-learning program.