Intrinsic Schools

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  • Investment to Date $440K
  • Students Served 1,015
  • Grantee Since 2020
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Intrinsic’s mission is to create a revolutionary new school model in order to prepare all students for postsecondary success and world-changing endeavors and to provide the education community with a roadmap to sustainable implementation. Their model is a team taught approach providing personalized learning through multiple modalities and 1:1 technology. The student experience is centered on building an academic foundation that closely mirrors postsecondary expectations as well as fostering strong relationships with teachers and peers such that all students grow towards stellar academic and agency graduate outcomes – skills that are essential for postsecondary life.

Why We Invested

A Better Chicago is impressed by Intrinsic’s compelling, innovative and blended learning model which has produced promising student outcomes, as well as its commitment to ongoing improvement. Intrinsic has made significant progress in creating an increasingly diverse, equitable and inclusive community and in further developing its postsecondary programming.

Intrinsic’s unique model has proven successful. Early postsecondary outcomes show that 51 percent of Intrinsic ninth graders persist to their second year of college, versus 35 percent of comparable Chicago Public Schools students. Additionally, Intrinsic’s freshman on-track rate of 93 percent compares to a benchmark of 83 percent, and Intrinsic students’ average SAT score of 973 is more than 70 points above that of comparable students at other schools.

In recent years, Intrinsic has built on its strong foundation in compelling ways. Founder and CEO Melissa Zaikos is an inspiring and effective leader and runs Intrinsic with a talented team energized by the opportunity to lead the organization through its next phase of growth. We are inspired by her commitment to defining student success in holistic terms and her unwavering aspiration to build schools that can serve as models for high-quality urban education.

Looking Ahead

After a years-long effort to expand, Intrinsic opened its second school in fall 2019 with a class of 90 freshmen. This campus will grow to serve 1,000 students in grades 9 to 12 over the coming years, bringing Intrinsic’s total reach to over 2,000. Beyond serving more students in its own schools, Intrinsic remains committed to innovating, learning and sharing to benefit the broader ecosystem. It has already begun this work on a small scale and is eager to grow its impact in the coming years.