The East St. Louis Action Research Project (ESLARP) is a Community Engagement program within the College of Fine and Applied Arts at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Under the direction of the ESLARP Director, a group of diverse faculty from across the University work together in an effort to provide expertise in their specific fields to address the immediate and long-term needs of marginalized communities. The ESLARP Director seeks advice from a Campus Advisory Committee (CAC) which meets regularly during the semester.
ESLARP staff (on and off campus) work with an ever-increasing number of residents and neighborhood organizations engaging in physical, economic or social development projects. ESLARP partners with residents, non-profit groups, faith-based organizations and municipal agencies in formulating strategies for meeting needs in the areas of community capacity building, neighborhood planning, urban design and construction, grant writing, parks and open space and digital information and technology.
ESLARP Graduate Assistants work closely with neighborhood organizations while providing valuable research activities to community partners. In addition to meeting the needs of their partners, students gain valuable knowledge by experiencing real-life situations in their community partners.
Since 1987, this program of mutual learning and assistance has been an important part of neighborhood improvement and other community-based efforts in East St. Louis, Alorton, Brooklyn, Centreville and Washington Park, Illinois.