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How Do the Best Get Better?

Written by Danielle Veira on Oct 31, 2018

Our grantees are some of the most impressive nonprofits in Chicago, and across the country, with education outcomes and third-party evaluations that prove their models are working. While these nonprofits have made significant progress in moving the needle on student outcomes in our city, there is a continual need to increase impact through new approaches to proven models. Our grantees are constantly working to innovate and improve the services they provide to Chicago students. At our recent “How Do the Best Get Better?” panel discussion, leaders from three of our grantees—Chicago Scholars, Noble Network of Charter Schools and OneGoal—shared the innovative ways their world-class organizations are tackling their biggest challenges to take their work to the next level.

Chicago Scholars
With an exemplary track record of ensuring college access and success for Chicago students, Chicago Scholars is taking its support even further with the Emerge Leadership Institute. Vice President of Career and Leadership Development Jeff Beckham shared with attendees how the Institute is preparing Chicago Scholars for careers with a combination of soft skills and leadership training bolstered by strategic partnerships with Chicago-based corporations. The first class of 21 fellows represented 15 Chicago neighborhoods, hailed from 14 colleges and universities across the country and participated in paid summer internships with companies in a variety of sectors including healthcare, technology, finance and education. Through the Institute, Chicago Scholars aims to incubate young leaders who are eager to bring their unique talents to organizations and companies making a difference in Chicago and beyond.

2018 EMERGE Fellows at the Pritzker Organization

Noble Academy
Serving students from 47 different neighborhoods throughout Chicago, Noble Academy is raising its already high bar by bringing the Harkness Method to its classrooms. Noble Academy Principal Lauren Boros launched a partnership with the best elite boarding school in the country, Philips Exeter, to introduce the discussion-based way of learning at her Noble campus. The Harkness Method has been proven to teach students to think critically, collaborate effectively, discover answers, defend conclusions and develop crucial soft skills. The results are clear, with Noble Academy poised to have the highest college graduation rate in the history of the Noble Network of Charter Schools.

“We’re giving our kids the education they need to go from the classroom to the boardroom. Because we need more people in boardrooms that look like these kids.” -Lauren Boros, Principal, Noble Academy

The transition from high school to college is a difficult one for most students, and even more so for students from low-income households. By integrating a culturally relevant approach into its three-year curriculum, OneGoal is striving to help students develop a sense of identity that will equip them to succeed. This approach—which focuses on academic achievement, cultural competence and socio-political consciousness—challenges teachers to shift to culturally responsive teaching practices that empower their students to identify their own personal strengths and craft professional aspirations. OneGoal Chief Program Officer Melissa Connelly shared how implementing this new curriculum has already led to impressive results for OneGoal, with students showing an increase in academic gains, attendance, high school graduation rates, critical thinking and self-esteem.

“With this new approach, we are able to talk to ALL of our kids about their dreams, aspirations, sense of self and more. They leave OneGoal knowing they deserve the opportunity to have the career and the life they choose.” -Melissa Connelly, Chief Program Officer, OneGoal

Want to know more about how our grantees are scaling impact and making sure that all students, regardless of zip code, have access to an extraordinary education? Explore their work and results here.

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