Chicago City & Country School

Good news! The “Chicago Prize” has advanced our project to compete for the Finalists stage (the Pritzker Traubert Foundation will award the $10 MM Chicago Prize to improve civic infrastructure on Chicago’s West or South Side).

Equity Schools is teaming with Lawrence Hall to develop a new type of school in Chicago’s Englewood Community to provide great education, workforce training, community amenities, greenway development, innovative funding, and more.

If you’re unfamiliar with Lawrence Hall, it is an organization of amazing people who – since 1865 – have provided high quality social care for Chicago youth and families (it began with Civil War orphans). They provide education, foster care, counseling, therapy, workforce development, and related services, mostly for the City’s underserved communities. Lawrence Hall is a statewide leader in evidence-based and innovative therapeutic treatment.

What are we doing together? Our working title is the “Chicago City & Country School,” although the name does not fully capture all that it represents.

The CCCS Model

CCCS will be a new kind of school – yet based on a nationally-proven Equity Schools model – to be developed on a seven-acre campus in Englewood. It will enroll 353 students (grades 8-12), and:

  • provide high-quality education in Chicago for youth in Englewood (and possibly other low-income neighborhoods), while building confidence and raising aspirations – because all students will work at professional internships
  • enhance Englewood with green space and other amenities
  • establish an urban farm to grow fresh produce and provide students with a connection to nature and their food
  • offer local adult workforce training
  • create jobs and economic opportunity
  • be free of politics, and
  • support its graduates with college funding – in order to become Chicago’s future leaders.
An aerial view of the CCCS campus. The line running through the center of campus (diagonally) is the planned “Englewood Line Trail.” On the south side of the trail are academic spaces, workforce training, and food service, while the north side of campus contains an urban farm with greenhouses and hoop houses.

This last piece will be a national first – the “Extraordinary Promise.” Any CCCS graduate who earns a college degree – and brings their degree, talent, and energy back to Chicago – can receive up to $30,000 for their college debt. No other school in the U.S. offers this.

Can we do this? Can it work?

Yes, of course.

Our original school model already has succeeded in dozens of underserved communities (95%+ college acceptance rate). This new version will enhance and build on that model, extending its impact for students into and beyond college, while incorporating immediate and lasting community engagement.  

So, yes.

Here’s an 89-second video overview from our Chicago Prize application:

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