Chicago partners with tech companies to create new Early College Schools

Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students will have the opportunity to attend five Early College STEM Schools (ECSS) that focus on technology skills and career readiness as well as earn college credits under a partnership agreement with five technology companies, CPS and City Colleges of Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has announced.

These schools will focus on skills graduates need in the modern workforce and Information Technology industry. Students will also have the option to earn college credits and complete a six-year program with an associates degree, according to Mayor Emanuel.

The five technology companies, IBM, Cisco, Microsoft Corporation, Motorola Solutions and Verizon Wireless, will help develop a unique curriculum at each new school to teach students the skills required in that marketplace, as well as provide mentors and internships.

Mayor Emanuel was joined by Stanley Litow, Vice President of Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs at IBM; Wim Elfrink, Executive Vice President, Emerging Solutions Group and Chief Globalisation Officer at Cisco; Sig Behrens, General Manager, U.S. Education at Microsoft Corp.; Greg Brown, Chairman and CEO at Motorola Solutions; Andy Brady, Director, Business Sales at Verizon Wireless, as well as CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard and City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) Chancellor Cheryl Hyman, at Chicago Vocational Career Academy, one of the schools that will offer the new STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) program.

The five lead partners will share industry specific expertise to the unique curricular development of their respective schools. CPS and CCC will also take advantage of recommendations from a new playbook created by IBM showing other cities how to adopt a new education model blending high school, college and career. The manual is the result of a three-month IBM Smarter Cites Challenge grant awarded to the City of Chicago. It outlines specifics such as designing a curriculum, creating an integrated college experience, and building a strong teaching faculty.

The five schools are located in diverse communities and were selected in part due to interest from school leadership in offering STEM education programming.

The neighborhood high schools offering these programs include Lake View High School, (4015 N. Ashland), Corliss High School (821 E. 103rd Street), and the new southwest area high school being built at 7651 S. Homan. Michele Clark High School (5101 W. Harrison Street) and Chicago Vocational Career Academy (2100 East 87th Street) will also offer the programs and are available to students city-wide. An ECSS is located in each of the five high school networks, providing access to every student in Chicago.

All of the new schools will open in September 2012 with a class of ninth graders. Each student will be able to graduate in four years with a high school diploma plus college credits, with the goal of earning an Associate of Science (AS) degree in Computer Science or an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) in Information Technology within six years. The college courses will be taught by professors from CCC.

CCC is the first college partner for these programs, but as the program expands, CPS officials hope to attract additional four-year colleges and universities for dual-credit and dual-enrollment.

The City Colleges system also has unique relationships with Chicago-area colleges, including:

  • The Presidential Scholarship at Illinois Institute of Technology offers qualifying CCC transfer students substantial financial support, including an annual tuition scholarship award up to $23,500, renewable for up to three years, as well as a $5000 housing scholarship award to support on-campus residence at the university. Students who do not qualify for the Presidential Scholarship will automatically be considered for a Transfer Scholarship up to $9,000, a Phi Theta Kappa Scholarship of $5,000 annually and a $1,500 on-campus housing scholarship.
  • The DePaul Admissions Partnership Program [DAPP] with DePaul University offers CCC students access to DePaul counselors who can provide guidance on class selection and majors while they are still enrolled at City Colleges of Chicago. DAPP guarantees that students bachelor’s degree-completion requirements will not change for three years after joining the program.
  • The Guaranteed Admissions Transfer [GAT] program with the University of Illinois Chicago allows CCC students to apply for guaranteed admission to UIC as early as their second semester at the community college level. Currently, 52 CCC students are on track to transfer to UIC in Fall 2012, and 65 students have applied for the 2013 GAT program.
  • The Lewis University Aviation Academy at Chicago is a partnership between Lewis University, CCC and the City of Chicago to offer Bachelors Degrees in Air Traffic Control Management and Aviation Administration. All courses required for the degree programs are offered in the evenings at De La Salle Institute. Admitted students receive a $10,000 scholarship.

CCC already has agreements established for CCC graduates with seven area universities to grant junior standing for transfer students in good standing.

In addition, each school will solicit auxiliary partners to offer tutoring and college guidance to ensure high graduation and college completion rates. Each school will receive technology infrastructure to support the program as well as targeted professional development.