New Academy for Global Citizenship Campus Approved for Chicago’s Southwest Side
72,000 sq ft community learning, sustainability and wellness hub to spur economic development
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sarah Elizabeth Ippel, (773) 744 – 8729
Founder and Executive Director
CHICAGO, IL – Today, the Chicago City Council approved the development of a new Academy for Global Citizenship (AGC) campus on the city’s southwest side following unanimous approval by the Chicago Plan Commission.
The new 72,000 square foot, two-story school building and community learning hub will anchor the corner of 44th Street and Laporte Avenue. Once home to Leclaire Courts, the six-acre site was sold by the Chicago Housing Authority to AGC in 2018 to allow for the new campus development and community anchor. Alderman Michael Rodriguez and Commissioner Maurice Cox joined fellow Committee on Zoning members in their support of the new campus.
“This visionary project will be a catalyst for additional development as part of the Gateway to Midway initiative. There were meetings and presentations to various community groups in the area about the project and an MOU signed by AGC with the Hearst Community Organization and Right to Return resident leadership that signifies AGC’s commitment to community partnership and accountability. This area of the southwest side has long suffered from systemic under investment and we are working to correct that.” said Alderman Rodriguez. “Our neighborhoods have been identified by the USDA’s Economic Research Service and the Chicago Health Atlas as being medically underserved, having limited access to grocery stores and higher food insecurity rates. I am proud to support the Academy for Global Citizenship in their work to correct these alarming disparities through their innovative approach to educating the whole child, family and community through wellness, nutrition and agricultural programming in addition to their commitment to being a collaborative partner in the community.”
AGC was granted a charter from Chicago Public Schools in 2008 and has been serving the community for 12 years. AGC is an authorized International Baccalaureate (IB) World School with a Dual Language program. The school is public, tuition-free and open to all Chicago residents, without test-in requirements. AGC serves majority low-income students and families in Southwest Chicago, with a student body comprised of 96% minority and 24% special needs students. The current enrollment is 468 students ranging in age from kindergarten through 8th grade. 96% of current students reside within 5 miles of the new campus.
The new campus will incorporate a new Early Childhood Education Center and will allow for expanded agricultural education and community wellness programs, including an on-site health center. Beyond the school building, the new campus will also include the development of a learning barn, wind turbine, animal grazing area, hoop houses and Institute for visiting educational fellows and teaching training. Over half the area of the new six-acre campus is reserved for urban agriculture, nature-based play-scapes, community gardens and walking trails. The entire site provides educational experiences with areas devoted to hands-on student and community learning, allowing students and neighbors to plant, harvest, and eat foods related to their units of study, their interests and their cultures.
In partnership with Urban Growers Collective, the campus will provide year-round garden education and community engagement opportunities via greenhouses, seasonal gardens, hoop houses, community gardens, walking trails, a neighborhood farmers market, a learning barn and environmental education center, a food forest, an orchard and berry bushes, brambles and grapevines. A variety of spaces will support culinary arts and positive nutrition, including a community teaching kitchen that will provide hands-on classes for families and neighboring residents. Produce grown above and beyond what is required for student meals will be sold at affordable prices to the community through AGC’s Community Farm Café.
“This project is a concrete example of what innovation looks like” said Commissioner Maurice Cox when voicing his support of the project, program, sustainability goals and innovative architecture. AGC is on track to receive certification through the Living Building Challenge, a rigorous metric of environmental sustainability. Only 24 other similarly certified projects currently exist in the world.
This project is funded by a $31 Million dollar grant as part of Rebuild Illinois, a grant fund administered through the State of Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. The construction of this campus and community learning hub will create approximately 120 full-time-equivalent, predominantly union jobs during the construction phase, and in total, employing an estimated 1,000 individuals throughout the overall course of construction. Upon completion, the campus is also projected to employ 100 permanent positions.
The development team is comprised of SMNG-A Architects, Farr Associates Architects, 180 Studio, Daley and Georges as Zoning Attorney, KLOA as Traffic Consultant, Stephen B. Friedman as New Market Tax Credit Advisor and URBAN ReSOLVE as Development Advisor. Phase one architectural designs were completed by Studio Gang Architects.