Category Archives: Teaching

CivicLab Profiled In Progress Illinois

Tom teaches-Ellyn_FortinoThe CivicLab was profiled in the June 27th edition of Progress Illinois.

“July marks one year since the CivicLab, a non-profit organization, opened its “democracy design studio” in the West Loop of Chicago.

Looking ahead, one of the CivicLab’s co-founders says big plans are in the pipeline for year two of the co-working space, which is dedicated to collaboration, education and innovation for social change and civic engagement.

Seven organizations focused on issues such as housing justice, voter registration and health care are currently working out of the CivicLab’s storefront, located at 114 N. Aberdeen St.

Other activists, designers, educators and tech experts also gather and do research at the space, which is housed in a rehabbed 1890s firehouse that sits across the street from Harpo Studios, where “The Oprah Winfrey Show” was previously filmed.

In addition to offering a place where people can collaborate, the CivicLab hosts educational workshops and is behind the volunteer-based TIF Illumination Project, which is working to promote transparency around Chicago’s controversial tax increment financing (TIF) program.” [read the full article]

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Who Plans What For Who – Let’s Examine Chicago Planning Efforts

Chicago Teachers For Social Justice
and the CivicLab are collaborating for a six-week session where people come together to examine an issue in order to act. It’s called “Inquiry To Action” and the inquiry we are hosting at the Lab starts on February 25, 2014. We will meet from 6:30pm to 8:30pm on six Tuesdays through April 1.


Chicago is said to be the city of Big Plans. But WHO made those plans and who benefits from them? Many big-ticket projects have been proposed by City Hall over the years in order to make Chicago a “world-class city.” But what, exactly, is a world-class city? This study group will review the history of community planning in Chicago, starting with the 1909 Burnham Plan and will investigate key players in the city’s planning history in the present era. Who are they and what, exactly, are they planning for us? We will seek to understand the context and motivations and outcomes for these plans. We will look at the Right To The City movement and other frame-challenging planning movements to see what other sorts of visions can be surfaced for the future of our great city.

This is a peer process of inquiry. The sessions will be co-facilitated by CivicLab co-founder Tom Tresser and CPS teacher and manager of the CivicLab Research Team, Emily Finchum.

There is a Kickoff Event on Saturday February 15 6-8pm and a Finale Event on Saturday April 5 6-8pm. There is no charge to participate. Attendance at all sessions is encouraged. YOU MUST REGISTER HERE.

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54,774 People Can’t Be Wrong

Tom-SlideShare_2013As an educator and organizer I love to share my research and insights (such as they are). It’s gratifying to know that so many people at least took the time to graze the presentations I put online. Use the contact form to reach me if you’d like a copy of one of these presentations or if you’re interested in a presentation at your organization.

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Tom Teaches Workshop On Nonprofit Basics

Holding_earthIs there a cause you feel passionate about? Is there an injustice that needs righting? Are you inspired to serve and innovate for the common good?

If so – then you may be thinking about starting a nonprofit organization to channel your efforts and deliver new solutions for your community.

This two hour workshop will walk you through the reasons to and NOT to start a nonprofit organization and what your first steps should be in you DO decide to start a new organization.

$15. Please register online via EventBrite =

You will learn:

  • Basic distinctions of the nonprofit organization
  • Origins and place of nonprofits in American society
  • Size and scope of the nonprofit sector
  • Pathway to incorporate and get tax-exempt status

Tom TresserTom Tresser is the instructor for this class. Tom is the co-founder of the CivicLab, which is the 13th nonprofit enterprise he has founded or led. He teaches nonprofit management for the Graduate School of Social Work at Loyola University and a number of classes on civic engagement, public policy and leadership for other local educational institutions.

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Englewood Neighborhood TIF Illuminated May 4

Englewood_flier-smallJoin us in Englewood on Saturday, May 4 at 10am at the Kelly Library when we Illuminate just one TIF. We will be exposing the Englewood Neighborhood TIF that morning. Details and RSVP via Facebook @

To get you in the mood to Illuminate, take this quick multiple choice question.

If you live inside the Englewood Neighborhood TIF, you would see that it is shown on your property tax bill as having “0” impact – that is, no property taxes taken. However, the TRUE percentage of your property taxes gobbled up by that TIF is:

(a) 16%
(b) 27%
(c) 48%
(d) 68%

We’ll reveal the answer, and many more amazing facts about TIFs, on May 4!

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