Loyola University Chicago

Center for Urban Research and Learning

PRAG Archive

PRAG: Policy Research Action Group

Founded in 1989, PRAG was a consortium of community-based and community-focused nonprofit organizations and urban universities which included Chicago State University, DePaul University, Loyola University Chicago and University of Illinois, Chicago.

For nearly 15 years, PRAG played a catalytic role that helped change the research landscape and transform a relationship that was either adversarial or non-existent to one that was engaged and productive. Today, there are hundreds of community/university collaborations across the country, even around the world. Visitors from England, El Salvador, and even Australia, came to Chicago to consult with PRAG about its approach.


PRAG's mission was to facilitate collaborative relationships between universities and CBOs, supporting actionable research that led to social change and leadership development in the public policy arena. All funded research activity involved a collaborative process through which university-based researchers and community-based organizations functioned as equal partners. 

Long time Chicago Activist Kale Williams with Senator Paul Simon at a PRAG meeting.


The PRAG Core Group was comprised of representatives from community-based organizations. This kept the issue of equal university/community partnerships on the front burner. The Core Group discussed and set the policies governing PRAG activities. The members and their affiliations are listed below:

  • Stephen Alexander: DePaul University
  • Brian Banks: Policy Research Action Group
  • Thomas Heaney: National-Louis University
  • Maureen Hellwig: Policy Research Action Group 
  • William Howard: West Humboldt Park Family & Community Development Center
  • Katy Jacob: Woodstock Institute  
  • Claire Kohrman: West Side Health Authority 
  • William Leavy: Greater West Town Community Development Project  
  • John Lukehart: Leadership Council for Metropolitan Open Communities
  • Art Lyons: Center for Economic Policy Analysis 
  • Martin Mercado: Policy Research Action Group 
  • Cynthia Milsap
  • Silvia Nebel: Independent Consultant 
  • Phil Nyden: Center for Urban Research & Learning, Loyola University Chicago 
  • Bill Peterman: Neighborhood Assistance Center, Chicago State University
  • La Donna Redmond: ICRD Institute for Community Resource Development 
  • Janet Smith: College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs UIC
  • Costas Spirou: National-Louis University
  • Clinton Stockwell: Chicago Semester
  • Doug Thomson: Chicago State University