AGC Founder Among “Green Women” Featured on Wren Sustainability Blog

AGC Founder Among “Green Women” Featured on Wren Sustainability Blog


Sarah Elizabeth Ippel, AGC’s Founder and Executive Director is featured in the second installment of a piece highlighting female leaders in sustainability by writer and activist Amanda Hanley of Eco Wren and Eco House Walk. Sarah Elizabeth is profiled among some of the area’s great environmentalists, including Helen Cameron, the Co-founder of Uncommon Ground, Sophia Siskel, President of the Chicago Botanic Garden and Beth Drucker, the Co-founder of Go Green Wilmette.

Read the full text of Hanley’s profile of Sarah Elizabeth Ippel below or at Wren.

“Sarah Elizabeth Ippel,  Founder and Executive Director of the Academy for Global Citizenship (AGC)

Amanda Hanley for

Sarah Elizabeth Ippel is on a mission to revolutionize public education and empower sustainable leaders.  Imagine a school with organic homemade breakfast and lunch in a zero-waste cafeteria; fresh vegetables and eggs harvested from an edible schoolyard garden and chicken coop; daily yoga, wellness and nutrition instruction; a walking school bus; core courses, such as math and science, taught in the context of hands-on environmentally sustainable themes; and engaging exploratories including a solar energy learning lab, demonstration wind turbine, compost bins and rain barrels.  Thanks to Ippel’s new vision of “this thing called school,” the Academy for Global Citizenship has come to life.  While Ippel attended grad school in Cambridge, England, she became fascinated with the learning backgrounds of her multi-national classmates.  She went on to study different educational philosophies by traveling to more than 80 countries around the world.  Her global interest in education turned local when she moved to Chicago.  Low performing, overcrowded schools in the under-served Southwest side of the city highlighted disparities in educational quality and access.  So at the age of 23, Ippelproposed to open a green charter school with an international outlook to the Chicago Board of Education.  Three years later, in 2008, the AGC public elementary school opened its doors near Midway Airport to “empower children to be mindful leaders in their community and the world beyond.”  Now in the fifth year of operation, the school currently serves 300 K-5 grade students, composed of 90% minority, 83% low-income and 20% special-ed children.  As an accredited International Baccalaureate school, the students’ academic success has eclipsed other local schools, with literacy rates jumping 63 percentage points, 93% of general education students meeting/exceeding math standards and 100% students are learning a second or third language.  While each year a new grade level is added, admission is based on a lottery and there are 14 times more applicants than space.  Ippel is currently focused on purchasing land for a new pre-K – 12 sustainable school and net positive energy campus.  Working with acclaimed Winnetka designer Bruce Mau and architect Trung Le at Cannon Design, she hopes to transform an 11-acre brownfield into an urban farm and outdoor classroom that would include vegetable gardens, fruit orchards and a greenhouse.  The campus would generate power though wind, solar and geothermalenergy, collect and reuse all water on site, and create a native forest with community walking trails.  Dedicated to the transforming the way society educates, Ippel intends for AGC to serve as an innovation incubator and replicable model to create systematic change.  Sparking broad interest, so far over 5,000 visitors from around the world have come to the Academy to learn about their initiatives.  They’ve even published a downloadable best practices sustainable school handbook to help satisfy information requests.  Ultimately, Ippel hopes to impact 20 million students by 2020!  The Academy has received numerous accolades including the Healthier U.S. Schools Challenge Gold with Distinction Award from Michelle Obama and one of the nation’s first Green Ribbon Schools Award.  Ippel was named Monocle’s Top 20 International Pioneers in Education alongside Michelle Rhee, and has been featured in Everyday Heroes and TEDTalks.  During her world travels, Ippel explains she witnessed the urgent state of the planet.  For that reason, she’s devoted to fostering environmental stewardship and community collaboration to face our challenges.  Her students couldn’t have a better role model for changemaking.”

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