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ETHS Emerge

Service learning and leadership for sophomores through seniors, since 2008. 250+ Emerge participants in the last six years have done over 44 community service projects that have helped our community and school.

2016 Emerge


The Emerge cohort presented their final projects to the Evanston community on May 10, 2016.

highlights of Emerge 2015


One Emerge student's experience — “I learned the importance of working together as a group and having good group dynamics. [A great leader makes sure that] all members have a voice and are heard."

EMERGE 2015 Witherspoon

Dr. Witherspoon brainstorming with Emerge students.


A wide-range of students are recommended by ETHS faculty and staff in the spring preceding their sophomore year at ETHS. The goal is to have a group from all sectors at the high school who are interested in learning more about Evanston and ETHS and making an impact.

The year begins with a full day retreat in September in which students meet community leaders, including the president of Northwestern University and Evanston’s Mayor or City Manager, and during which they get to create their own visions for the high school and the community.

Over the school year, students meet monthly in evening workshops. ETHS Community Service Coordinator, Mary Collins manages the program, with support from Leadership Evanston and from NU Emerge, a Northwestern student organization that facilitates activities and mentors project teams. Juniors who were in the previous year’s Emerge program also participate as facilitators and mentors.

Emerge participants work in teams on projects to impact ETHS and


Evanston. Projects are presented to community leaders, parents, and others in a final session in late April.

Interested students can contact ETHS Director of Community Service, Mary Collins by email or at 847-424-7662.


Projects begun in the Emerge program have had a terrific impact on the ETHS and broader Evanston community. A sample of projects over the first few years of the program shows the breadth and depth of the work:

• Development of a Student Activities brochure used by staff to increase student engagement.

• ETHS Diversity Fair.

• Creation of the Alliance of Youth Artists to promote and advocate for teen artists in the Evanston community.

• Environmental projects ranging from turn off the lights day to teaching environmental awareness lessons in D65 to working in ETHS gardens.

ETHS administrators and staff view Emerge as an opportunity for students to not only learn leadership skills but to apply them to solve problems, as one said, at ETHS, in the Evanston community and beyond.

Community leaders who work with Emerge participants are impressed by their energy and maturity. As the Talking Farm administrator enthused, the students are “engaged, articulate, curious, thoughtful, respectful, smart! I can’t say enough good things about them. They were on the top of their game from the initial email inquiry to setting up a time and place to asking insightful questions to a follow-up thank you email.”

collaboration with Leadership Evanston

ETHS Emerge began as a project through the Evanston Community Foundation Signature Leadership Evanston program. Like Leadership Evanston, the students practice emerging leadership skills by developing community service projects. These projects reflect the breadth and depth or our community. Leadership Evanston sets up the expectations at the beginning of the year, provides ongoing networking, and supports project’s development.

more quotes

“I will use what I learned [in Emerge] to improve as a leader, work with groups, and persevere through tough situations.”

“I feel more comfortable in a room full of adults. I am more likely to speak up and voice my opinion.”

“I got a lot better at group work, and I now know how easy it is to be involved in the community”