Illinois Tech Community Book Festival has Positive Impact on Bronzeville

More than 200 people attended Illinois Institute of Technology’s (Illinois Tech) first community book festival, “Visions of Other Worlds,” held at Hales Franciscan High School, 4930 S. Cottage Grove Ave., on July 16, 2016. Organized by Illinois Tech Director for Inclusion, Diversity & Employer Engagement Lisa L. Montgomery, the event was held in partnership with the Institute for Positive Living, a social service agency helping families to address economical, educational, social, and health-related challenges.

Attendees included Illinois Tech students (Akinade Aderele and Adedoyin Adeniji), staff (Frances Patterson and Bridget Vaughn), alumni (Regina Harris Baiocchi, Gregg Baiocchi) and community members from across Chicago. Participants were able to choose from a wide variety of books, youth signed pledge cards to support peace and Catholic Charities donated a tasty lunch. Enthusiastic readers selected more than 1,000 books. Senior citizens and local Chicago Police Department staff volunteered their time to read favorite books to children and to talk to lively youth. CPD also generously donated books to the festival. The Visions of Other Worlds Book Festival is a prominent program under The Wild Formula Learning Network (WFLN) umbrella. WFLN also partners with the local Bee Chicago Public Library in Bronzeville to host the Storytelling Safari, which connects the community by allowing participants to genuinely share stories about their world with their voice.

Youth who attended the festival were eager to sign the pledge cards and add their names to the movement aimed at increasing peaceful resolutions of conflict in the world and eradicating violence. Janelle LaVigne, a teacher at Horizon Science Academy and a mentor at One Summer, One Chicago’s youth employment program called the Illinois Tech, Visions of Other Worlds Book Festival “an amazing opportunity for young people. I am encouraging my summer interns to read anything that they enjoy, for 15 to 30 minutes a day. It’s key to increase their capacity for thinking and learning and digesting.”

Montgomery said that she plans to hold the book festival as an annual event to encourage Chicago youth to embrace reading and knowledge and to combat idleness and violence. Faculty, staff and students are welcome to volunteer for any of these programs. To find out more information, contact Lisa Montgomery at


This event reflects the values expressed in the university’s Diversity Statement and is intended to promote diversity at Illinois Tech.