Contact Us

University of Illinois Extension serving Cook County

Cook County
8751 S. Greenwood Avenue, Suites 112-122
Chicago, IL 60619
Phone: 773-768-7779
FAX: 773-768-4818
Hours: Monday - Friday 8:30 am to 4:30 pm

1114 N. Arlington Heights Road
Suite 201
Arlington Heights, IL 60004
Phone: 847-201-4176
FAX: 847-201-4175
Hours: Monday - Friday 8:30 am to 4:30 pm

Cook County
1140 N. Lamon
Floor 2
Chicago, IL 60651
Phone: 773-287-8333
FAX: 773-287-8335
Hours: Monday - Friday 8:30 am to 4:30 pm

Cook County
4747 Lincoln Mall Drive
Suite 601
Matteson, IL 60443
Phone: 708-679-6889
FAX: 708-679-6855
Hours: Monday - Friday 8 am to 4 pm

Cook County
Enterprise Center
2205 Enterprise Drive, Suite 501
Westchester, IL 60154
Phone: 708-449-4320
FAX: 708-492-1805
Hours: Monday - Friday 8 am to 4 pm

Cook County
9415 South Western Avenue, Suite 201
Chicago, IL 60643
Phone: 773-233-2900
FAX: 773-233-9183
Hours: Monday - Friday 8:30 am to 4:30 pm

Cook County
9415 South Western Avenue, Suite 200
Chicago, IL 60643
Phone: 773-651-4011
FAX: 773-651-4047
Hours: Monday - Friday 8:30 am to 4:30 pm

Community and Economic Development

Community and Economic Development


How to Evaluate Your Community

Almost everyone has an opinion about the neighborhood they live in. If someone asked you about your community, what would you say? University of Illinois Extension has a program called Community Swap. By participating in this, program communities have the opportunity to evaluate the positives, negatives and potentials of their own community. Here are some questions that you can ask to evaluate your community and its own uniqueness.

First Impressions
  • How does your community look when you enter? Is there a lot of traffic; how does it compare to other communities?
  • Are there people standing around? Are women busily walking down the street with baby and stroller?
  • Do you feel comfortable living in your community? Is safety an issue?
  • Is your community considered a high, medium or low-income area?
  • What is the career status of its residents? Are most people professionals, are there many stay-at-home mothers?
  • How many residents have completed college or formal training?
  • What is the cultural make-up of the community racially, politically; is there a strong religious preference?
  • How do you fit in? Do you match the norm; do you feel comfortable or restricted based on your cultural or other preferences?
Housing Quality
  • What type of housing style is prevalent? Do you have many bungalows or ranch style homes? What are the ages of the houses; are old mixed with new? Are there many apartment buildings?
  • Are the homes on traditional sized city lots? Are there many vacant lots?
  • Are lawns finely manicured, rustic looking? Are some homes well kept and others not?
Youth and Schools
  • Are the neighborhood schools a social, educational and cultural hub for the children?
  • Do you feel that the neighborhood is threatening because young people are involved with drugs and gangs?
  • Have you ever had the opportunity to visit a school for an evening program?
  • Is there a central business district? What is the condition of the buildings, streets, sidewalks and parking?
  • Is there trash or other debris on the streets and in front of businesses?
  • Do you frequently shop in your community? Are there businesses and services lacking?
  • Who are the restaurants? Which restaurant is your favorite? Which would you recommend to visitors?
  • What do people do for recreation? Do you and neighbors visit on front porches; cookout in the backyard?
  • Do your neighbors walk for exercise or go to the local health club?
  • Do you see children playing organized sports like baseball and football; do they gather around local parks or play basketball at a popular spot?
  • Do you attend local activities such as summer fairs?
  • Are brochures, maps and other materials available that describe your community?
  • What are the positive qualities about your community or block that many people outside of your community do not know about?
  • Would you consider your community a suitable location for a young family, a senior citizen or young single person? Why or why not?
  • What would you like to see happen in your community?
Sense of Community

Your personal history with your community may not consider bricks and mortar or business development. Many of us stay in a community because it is our home. We know it inside and out; our families and friends are still there. We may stay long enough to see our community deteriorate and then revitalize because many communities go through a transformation over time. Each community continues to respond to the current needs and trends but still manage to retain a strong sense of pride.

University of Illinois Extension has the following on-line programs:

The Community Development Toolbox provides several planning tools for community projects.

Community Swap: Finding a fresh Perspective on Your Community This program is an excellent tool for practitioners a chance to hear an objective assessment of their community's strengths and challenges. By collaborating with other communities, this program allows both communities to exchange perspectives. For more details about this program go to or contact the University of Illinois Extension office in your area.

The Community Development Capacity Index Growth and development cannot always be measured by traditional economic indicators. The COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT CAPACITY INDEX (CDCI) is an assessment tool that provides a framework for communities to benchmark or evaluate the impact of community development initiatives. It can be used to assess progress toward meeting community development goals by measuring change in both organizational and financial resources.

Scheduling Your Project Activities To manage multiple timelines, multiple projects or groups of people, this on-line program uses the Gantt chart as a way of keeping your plans on-task.
The Community Tool Box an on-line resource with information on essential skills for building healthy communities. It offers more than 7,000 pages of practical guidance in creating change and improvement. Learning modules include: community assessments, strategic planning, volunteerism, leadership development, community intervention, program evaluation and much more.

Community and Leadership a website dedicated to community and economic development with various modules such as: diversity and inclusion, economic viability, leadership development, organizational development, planning and public policy