Service the core of DePaul's Education and Counseling Center

Rachel Marciano
October 13, 2016

This fall, DePaul's Education and Counseling Center solidified its relationship with Penedo Charitable Organization, a program designed to support the long-term growth of at-risk girls in grades 6 through 12. From tutoring participants in math to helping them develop healthy coping and communication tools for the ups and downs of life, DePaul students in the Education and Counseling Center have worked with the organization since summer 2016 and plan to continue strengthening the collaboration in the coming years. This is just one of the many steps the Education and Counseling Center is taking to make a difference in the Chicago community.

vision boards

Participants of the Penedo day program create vision boards, an exercise deisnged to help students visualize how they want to feel, in addition to what they want in their futures. (DePaul University/Martha Mason)

"Over the last year, we have increased our counseling and tutoring services," says Martha Mason, director of the center. "Our goal is not only to provide our College of Education students with service learning opportunities, but also to share our knowledge and resources with Chicago communities. We help families receive the quality services they need, no matter what their financial situation."

In addition to Penedo Charitable, DePaul's Education and Counseling Center has working relationships with The Young People's Project, an organization aimed at ending institutional obstacles through math literacy, and After School Matters, a local organization that advocates for teen and youth development.

"These relationships are certainly two-sided," Mason says. "Our students gain the hands on experience that's crucial for these professions while helping children and teens shape an academically, socially and emotionally successful future."

Though reading and math have always been a core focus for the center, in 2013 leaders broadened the center's offerings to better meet the needs of the community. In alignment with DePaul's mission, the Education and Counseling Center expanded its curriculum to offer literacy assessment and remediation, academic tutoring, counseling services and professional development services to the Chicago community. The center's fees are also on a low-cost sliding scale to ensure anyone who needs help can receive it, regardless of the family's financial situation.

Literacy assessment

Through the Literacy and Specialized Instruction Program within the center, DePaul graduate students working toward their reading specialist endorsement meet regularly with children and teens with identified reading difficulties. Assessment is an essential component of education, especially for children and teens with learning differences, and often is used to inform instruction. DePaul students work closely with the children throughout the quarter, implement instructional interventions, monitor progress, and build reports and recommendations for parents on next steps.

Academic tutoring

DePaul's pre-service teachers train in the center's academic tutoring division. From general homework help to tutoring in specific areas such as math, science or writing, DePaul students help children manage their time, and build study skills and strategies for academic success.


The Education and Counseling center provides an opportunity for both children and adults to talk with counselors-in-training regarding difficulties they may be having. Clients can talk about their strengths, learn new ways to cope with problems and practice new tools to communicate or cope more successfully. The center counseling program areas of focus include improving interpersonal skills, self-acceptance, better expression and management of emotions, ability to manage stress effectively and improved problem solving.

The center also provides professional development opportunities for teachers, counselors, allied health professionals and social workers. In addition to workshops, consultation and supervision groups for counseling professionals at DePaul and beyond are offered on a regular basis.  

"We've grown so much since evolving from the Family Lab into the Education and Counseling Center in 2013," Mason says. "We hope to continue spreading the word about the great things happening in the center so we continue building relationships and beneficial opportunities for everyone."