What is CUP?
For over 30 years, the Chicago Urban Program has been connecting college students with communities in Chicago through immersive service experiences to learn about God’s heart for reconciliation and racial justice.
The purpose of the Chicago Urban Program is to raise up communities of faithful, hopeful leaders who recognize the Image of God in themselves and all people, and seek Shalom wherever they are called. With the city of Chicago and devoted community leaders as our teachers, students and staff will be equipped to sustain prophetic lifestyles that create spaces of love, healing and truth in every campus community, vocational field and neighborhood.
Spring Break CUP is a 2 - 6 day experiential learning experience in Chicago’s West Side. Participants will return to campus with a fresh Word which compels them to see with new eyes and bear witness to a holistic Gospel to all corners of campus; they will seek to be with their peers in marginalized communities. They will return to campus able to integrate reconciliation and racial justice into all aspects of the mission of God on campus and in their chapter as they experience this modeled by local community leaders.
In past years, CUP has run several different weeks in March led by our Chicago Urban Program Director. We are restructuring our programs during the 2019-2020 school year and we hope to return to our regular spring break programming starting in 2021. For spring break 2020 we are looking for InterVarsity staff to volunteer to lead a program and recruit students to come. Interested students and staff should inquire using the options listed below.
Hang tight for more information about Spring Break 2020. We're hoping to run a program but need to gauge interest from staff and students first. Let us know you're interested by signing up below!
Would you like to craft and lead a Spring Break experience for your students. Contact your InterVarsity staff director to discuss running a Spring Break program and to receive the the “How to plan and lead a CUP Plunge” Guide.
You will spend time serving in the city and learning from community members, community development practitioners, pastors and city leaders. Housing and meals are included in program cost.
Spend 6 weeks living and learning in a multi-ethnicc community with fellow college students as you serve the community and practice Biblical principles of reconciliation and justice.
Through experiential learning opportunities throughout these 6 weeks, students and staff will receive practical training on the integration of justice with witness, stewardship, reconciliation, advocacy, and missions. Participants will return to campus as culture makers equipped to: walk with their peers in their ethnic identity development; lead their peers in critical dialogue across difference and disagreement; humbly influence chapter culture to create spaces of hospitality, love and healing.
We are restructuring our programs during the 2019-2020 school year and we hope to return to our regular summer internship starting in 2021.
6 week immersive internship serving and learning with justice-oriented ministries in the city of Chicago.
Various locations on the South Side and West Side of Chicago
Estimated Cost $1750 (participants fundraise for the program cost, similar to a short-term missions experience)
God used my two years at Spring Break CUP to redefine my heart journey and how I live out God’s mission. God showed me how the Gospel and social justice are not mutually exclusive and what this means for me as a disciple of Jesus. I engaged in conversations about ethnicity and culture and how vital the celebration of ethnicity and culture is in terms of truly including all people into God's family. I witnessed all sides of Chicago--a city of beauty, hope, innovation, injustice, reconciliation, disparity, and brokenness all thrown into one-- and was able to intentionally engage with and learn from the people I encountered in the various neighborhoods. I learned how to navigate the world with “bifocals” that give me the capacity to see beauty and brokenness at the same time. God stirred my heart to become an activator for the Kingdom: a disciple who lives out the radical love and gospel of Christ in ways that call out and dismantle systems of oppression. And above all, I learned that the world is far more beautiful when we navigate spaces with open hands and open hearts.
Illinois State University
Participating in the Chicago Urban Program was a pivotal moment in my life that caused me to engage with my faith, myself and my community in a completely different way. Prior to the program, I lacked understanding of how I wanted my faith and studies to intersect as well as the ways in which God wanted to use both. Afterwards, my vision was renewed and broadened helping me see the ways in which God could use me as an advocate, an activist, and someone who is always seeking to love people and do justice. As well as this, the program gave me so much space for introspection, meditation, and self seeking in which I could rediscover myself, my past, and family structure, seeing them all with new eyes. Experiencing God in a city that consists of such a rich history and culture helped me to better understand God’s love for all people and how his presence has impacted the development of their narratives as well as mine. My love for God, Chicago and people has since grown.
University of South Florida
I attended Spring Break CUP my sophomore year on a whim, honestly unexcited and afraid to spend time in what I was told was a "dangerous neighborhood" of Chicago. Little did I know that God would meet me that week to open my eyes to the pain and beauty of whole communities I had never engaged with. It was like a switch was flipped and I saw this world, God, and the Word in a new light--God's compassion for the fatherless, the widow, the foreigner and God’s desire for justice. I went on to attend summer CUP before my senior year, learning how beautiful it can be to live in deep community with fellow students and community members, sharing the daily joys and pains of life and relationship. I was learning to question and wrestle with what I was taught about who I am, who I should choose to be in community with, and how I should spend my resources. Besides this new framework of God and the world, CUP's greatest gift to me was the chance to be in relationship with those I wouldn't have met otherwise. Our society stratifies us to be separated by our race/ethnicity, our educational levels, our wealth. CUP offered the chance to break out of these boxes to say yes to being transformed, being seen, and seeing others. A few years after graduating from college, I spent another summer staffing CUP, and was humbled to continue learning as staff and reminded to stay open because there is always more to learn about empathy, how to act and prayer, and how to enact our greatest command: to love others. CUP changed the course of my life to give me purpose, understanding, and empathy, which are present with me every day.
Got questions about the Chicago Urban Program? Use this contact form to get in touch with one of our InterVarsity staff who can help!
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