The Woodlawn Social Services Center (also known as SSC, or the Social Services Center) was a branch of the University of Chicago's Graduate School of Social Service Administration. Founded in 1920 to continue the work of the Chicago School of Civics and Philanthropy, SSA had became a model for innovation in social work education by the 1960s.The establishment of the SSC in 1969 represented one such initiative, combining professional education and research with social welfare in Chicago's Woodlawn neighbourhood.
Woodlawn, the neighbourhood immediately south of the University of Chicago, is bounded north to south by 60th and 67th Streets and west to east by King Drive and Lake Michigan. Originally a working-class white and immigrant area, racial tensions and declining housing conditions caused "white flight" during the 1950s. Escalating gang warfare contributed to the departure of middle-class African-Americans, and by the 1960s Woodlawn was one of Chicago's poorest and most dangerous neighbourhoods. Subsequent plans to expand the university campus southward put the University and Woodlawn communities at odds.
These conditions prompted SSA to stabilize and strengthen relations with Woodlawn residents. The Woodlawn Social Services Center, located behind SSA at 61st Street and Drexel Avenue, was funded by federal agencies and the University. SSC sought to centralize the provision of social services. By housing child care, employment and legal aid, and a health clinic under one roof, it hoped to better evaluate and address Woodlawn's specific needs. SSC also forged relationships with local groups such as The Woodlawn Organization (TWO). TWO, initially formed to oppose University expansion and promote the community's "self-determination," became responsible for nominating a residents' advisory committee to help develop SSC programs and policies.
From the guide to the University of Chicago. Woodlawn Social Services Center. Records, 1960-1984, (Special Collections Research Center University of Chicago Library 1100 East 57th Street Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.)