UChicago Impact partners with GrowCommunity schools to create a high-performing, neighborhood PreK-12 network in Chicago

GrowCommunity, a community effort created earlier this year to improve and support PreK-12 neighborhood schools in Chicago

CHICAGO—April 16—GrowCommunity, a community effort created earlier this year to improve and support PreK-12 neighborhood schools in Chicago, announced this week a new partnership with the University of Chicago's Urban Education Institute to catalyze school improvement efforts at Lake View and Amundsen high schools as well as more than a dozen feeder elementary schools. The partnership aims to create a high-performing, aligned “neighborhood system within a system” within the larger Chicago Public Schools district.

Together with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, school and district leaders, as well as community partners, two Urban Education Institute (UEI) leaders—John Gasko, CEO of UChicago Impact, and Cornelia Grumman, UEI's Director of Policy and Strategic Communications—will participate in a new Advisory Task Force to incubate a sustained professional development strategy around evidence-based tools and training systems that focus on school improvement. The initiative will start with supports in Lake View and Amundsen high schools around UEI’s 5Essentials diagnostic assessment of school effectiveness, enhancing the 5Essentials system already in use by all CPS schools. The partnership would consider incorporating a college going and attainment curriculum, proven literacy improvement systems for elementary schools to opt into, and additional outreach and communications support to align resources, sustain progress and reach student attainment goals.

“Every parent and child in Chicago deserves to have a high-quality public school in their own neighborhood to help every student reach their full potential and through this innovative partnership, we will work together to achieve that goal,” said Mayor Emanuel. “From principals to parents, city leaders to community leaders, we all have a role to play in the education of every child in Chicago. Through this collaboration we will identify what works so we can build on it to reinvigorate neighborhood schools in every part of our city.”

GrowCommunity’s partnership with UEI will begin this summer, as the Task Force guiding the effort works to establish student attainment goals, generate and disseminate communication materials, and help educators internalize the research undergirding the new school supports. The partnership with UEI includes proven literacy assessments and training, where needed and welcomed, for the feeder elementary schools, as well as other data, curriculum, diagnostic, and training resources.

The GrowCommunity Advisory Task Force will be comprised of neighborhood aldermen, school and parent leaders, community members, and UChicago’s Urban Education Institute. The Advisory Task Force will be co-chaired by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, UChicago Impact CEO John Gasko, UEI Policy & Communications Director Cornelia Grumman, Lake View High School Principal Scott Grens, Amundsen High School Principal Anna Pavichevich, as well as Alds. Ameya Pawar (47th), Tom Tunney (44th), and Pat O’Connor (40th). Other key parent, community, and elementary school leaders also will serve on the Advisory Task Force.

“Thanks to decades of hard work by parents, teachers, and community members, Chicago has more excellent elementary schools than ever before,” said Ald. Pawar. “This partnership will catalyze a more aligned, challenging and cohesive educational experience for all types of learners.”

As part of the partnership with Lake View and Amundsen high schools, GrowCommunity feeder elementary schools include: Audubon, Bell, Blaine, Budlong, Burley, Chappell, Coonley, Greeley, Hamilton, Jahn, Jamieson, McPherson, Nettelhorst, Ravenswood, and Waters.

The Urban Education Institute conducts applied research, prepares classroom teachers, operates multiple school campuses, and creates and disseminates tools and solutions that are research-based and practice-proven. UChicago Impact, one of UEI’s four divisions, provides schools, school systems, and states with the highest quality research-based diagnostic tools and training designed to produce reliably excellent schooling. UChicago Impact works to accelerate academic achievement by improving instruction, leadership, and college readiness. UChicago Impact currently works in 60 major cities across 29 states, including some of the highest performing school systems and charter management organizations nationwide.

All involved GrowCommunity schools are familiar with at least some of the Urban Education Institute’s research, practice models, and evidence-based tool and training systems designed to improve student outcomes.

“Everyone benefits when public schools excel and prepare students to succeed not only in high school, but also in college and beyond,” said CEO Gasko.

This is a unique moment for GrowCommunity and a natural partnership. GrowCommunity schools boast outstanding leadership, as well as growing support, excitement, and activity from parents and community partners, at Lake View and Amundsen high schools in particular. All are working together to systemically transform these schools into “top choice” neighborhood models for the city and beyond.