ABCD works with students at DePaul University and schools and colleges throughout the Chicago area. Students gain unique perspectives on community development and social justice through ABCD.
Courses examine both historic and contemporary community building efforts, paying special attention to approaches that were shaped by Chicago. This urban center, often described as a "city of neighborhoods," has long been a seedbed for community-based problem solving inventions. Scores of Chicago neighborhoods have developed effective community economic development organizations. Today, community building continues unabated, both in Chicago and across North America.
The ABCD Institute reflects the principles of experiential learning through all its activities, believing that individuals learn best through engaging in real-life, work-on-the-ground experiences that enable them to understand the work at its core.
Experiential Learning coursework educates students about the city of Chicago and help them understand ways they can be involved in social change. Some courses work directly with local nonprofit groups in and around the city of Chicago. Jody Kretzmann, who teaches Introduction to Community Development at ABCD's former institution, Northwestern University, was a founding faculty member of the Associated Colleges of the Midwest's Urban Studies Program which provides undergraduate students from thirteen midwestern colleges experiential learning opportunities with local organizations in Chicago that teach them about the major sociological and political issues of the day.