Elected officials and community members joined Academy for Global Citizenship leadership and community leaders to commemorate the launch of historic Cultivate Collective   


Tuesday, May 10, 2022


Caroline Wellford 

CHICAGO, IL – Today, elected officials, community leaders, and Academy for Global Citizenship (or AGC) school leadership joined together to commemorate the groundbreaking of the Cultivate Collective (Cultivate), a new community learning, sustainability, and wellness hub which will spur economic development on Chicago’s southwest side. The first phase of construction will house AGC’s existing public K-8 school, an early childhood center, community health care center, three-acre urban farm, neighborhood marketplace, six teaching kitchens, and a range of community wellness programs and amenities. Cultivate’s development is slated to be completed and open to the public by the fall of 2023.

“Turning long-vacant spaces into thriving community hubs is one of the cornerstones of our Rebuild Illinois infrastructure plan, and I’m pleased to see the Academy for Global Citizenship mark another milestone in its journey to advance educational, environmental, economic and health justice for Illinois residents. The Academy is already proving itself a leader in ensuring the green economy is accessible for all communities, and I’m grateful for the organization’s partnership in bringing new jobs and opportunities to Chicago’s Southwest Side.”

– Governor JB Pritzker

Cultivate will create a holistic center of services for the community including minority workforce training focused on green jobs. Over 1,000 unionized Illinoisans will work on the project which is on track to produce more energy through clean renewable sources than it uses annually. The project is also expected to house 125 permanent positions upon its launch with a $58,350 median salary plus full benefits, in addition to providing skills-training and apprenticeships leading to economic mobility. Also notable is this development is the first in Illinois on track to join only 24 projects worldwide who are recognized by the International Living Futures Institute to achieve an unparalleled level of environmental sustainability and climate resiliency.

“School communities have a unique opportunity to foster the social-emotional wellbeing of students. This learning, sustainability, and wellness hub will do just that for students from our historically under-resourced communities. I’m grateful that the Academy for Global Citizenship continues to catalytically invest in our South Sides as well as the wellbeing of our city’s young people.”

– Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot
Left to Right: Sybil Madison, Chief of Staff, Mayor Lori Lightfoot; Michael Rodriguez, Alderperson, 22nd Ward; Sarah Elizabeth Ippel, Founder & Executive Director, Academy for Global Citizenship; Aarón Ortíz, State Representative. ©Charles Cherney Photography

Cultivate is a transformative project for Chicago’s southwest side set to serve a historically under-resourced, 96% minority constituency impacted by decades of disinvestment, social, environmental and racial injustice. The project is catalyzing neighborhood investment, focused on whole child wellness and environmental sustainability, which will generate local wealth, create jobs, and have a significant and sustained impact for generations. The project is located on six acres of the Chicago Housing Authority’s former LeClaire Courts site and will anchor the corner of 44th Street and Laporte Avenue in the LeClaire Courts neighborhood, just 1.5 miles north of Midway Airport. 

“I couldn’t be more thrilled to bring this innovative project to the southwest side of Chicago. Not only does it directly address community needs by expanding learning opportunities, increasing healthy food access, and adding public green spaces; it will also be a meaningful driver of economic growth through job creation and serving as a training hub.”

– Alderperson Michael D. Rodriguez, 22nd Ward

The project will ultimately feature:

  • A training hub for minority workforce as pipeline for the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA) roll-out, including partnerships with: HIRE360, Black Contractors Owners & Executives, Hispanic American Contractors Industry Association
  • Early childhood Head Start facility and K-8 public, IB and Dual Language school 
  • On-site Federally Qualified Health Care Center serving the entire community
  • Teacher training institute for public school teachers from across the city and state
  • Environmental education center to host field trips for students across the city and state 
  • Fresh food marketplace, food pharmacy and neighborhood café enabling food access
  • Six teaching kitchens, green spaces, walking trails, and community wellness facilities
  • Illinois’ first net-positive energy/water, climate-resilient and fossil-fuel free demonstration site

“Today’s celebration is the result of nearly two decades of collaboration and dedication among thousands of individuals who have dreamed of a more sustainable and equitable future for all. We’re so thrilled to see our collective vision for cultivating a resilient, just and thriving community come to life.”

– Sarah Elizabeth Ippel, Founder and Executive Director of the Academy for Global Citizenship

Today’s groundbreaking celebration included a musical performance by AGC students, remarks from elected officials, land acknowledgement, yoga, and tree planting.

AGC students sang “I’m Going to Change the World, With My Own Two Hands” in English and Spanish at our groundbreaking ceremony. ©Charles Cherney Photography

AGC currently serves nearly 500 local Chicago Public School students with a mission to empower all students to positively impact the community and world beyond. Cultivate strongly addresses economic inequality through four key approaches:

  • Educational Opportunity (whole-child education, cradle-to-career and multi-generational community learning); 
  • Health Access (health care, fresh food, wellness facilities and programming); 
  • Economic Development (business incubation, job creation, skills training); and 
  • Environmental Justice (clean air, energy resiliency, neighborhood nature space, inclusive participation in the green economy).   

“As a former LeClaire Courts resident and someone who has lived in this community for 55 years, I am excited about AGC’s mission to cultivate the next generation of globally environmentally minded leaders who are making our world a better place. We look forward to working with you to see this transformational project bring benefits to our community for generations to come.”

– Joann Williams, President of the Hearst Community Organization
Left to Right: Brenda Alford, LeClaire Courts Right to Return Resident; Tom Baliga, President of Archer Heights Civic Association; Sybil Madison, Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Chief of Staff; Alderperson Michael Rodriguez; Academy for Global Citizenship Founder Sarah Elizabeth Ippel; State Representative Aarón Ortíz; Reverend Tolliver, LeClaire Missionary Baptist Church; Jewel Robinson, Community Resident for 53 years. ©Charles Cherney Photography

About the Academy for Global Citizenship: 

The Academy for Global Citizenship (AGC) is a Dual Language and International Baccalaureate public school located on Chicago’s southwest side that serves a 96% minority constituency. AGC opened its doors in 2008 as a learning laboratory that has since scaled its innovative model to impact over five million students. Learn more about the Academy for Global Citizenship at

About the Cultivate Collective 

The Cultivate Collective is community-based non-profit that has worked hand-in-hand with an array of collaborators and local partners to develop a vision for revitalizing six currently vacant acres within a larger 40-acre Chicago Housing Authority project site into a thriving community wellness, learning and sustainability hub. Cultivate’s mission is to unite education, wellness, sustainability and economic vitality at the community level to drive meaningful, generational impact. Learn more about Cultivate Collective at


Left to Right: State Representative Aarón Ortíz, Alderperson Michael Rodriguez, Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Chief of Staff Sybil Madison, Academy for Global Citizenship Founder Sarah Elizabeth Ippel. Groundbreaking for the new Academy for Global Citizenship – Tuesday May 10, 2022 ©Charles Cherney Photography

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