FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: SUSTAINABLE LEARNING LABORATORY ON CHICAGO’S SOUTHWEST SIDE TO RECEIVE $31M ALLOCATION FROM STATE CAPITAL PLAN

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: SUSTAINABLE LEARNING LABORATORY ON CHICAGO’S SOUTHWEST SIDE TO RECEIVE $31M ALLOCATION FROM STATE CAPITAL PLAN

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:         Sarah Elizabeth Ippel, Founder

Phone:           773.744.8729

Email:            sarahelizabeth@agcchicago.org

 

SUSTAINABLE LEARNING LABORATORY ON CHICAGO’S SOUTHWEST SIDE TO RECEIVE $31M ALLOCATION FROM STATE CAPITAL PLAN

Academy for Global Citizenship Demonstrates a Different Vision of Scale with Net Positive Energy Campus and Environmental Education Hub

 

[Chicago, June 28, 2019]— Over the last ten years, a public school on the Southwest side of Chicago has captured the attention of over 10,000 visiting educators coming from as far as Brazil and China, India and Kyrgyzstan.  The Academy for Global Citizenship (AGC) is an international laboratory for innovation in education which incubates creative solutions to 21st century problems, including a comprehensive wellness program and an inquiry-based curriculum driven by concepts of environmental and social justice.

AGC’s 500 students and teachers are currently split between two rented facilities which are separated by a major intersection and truck route, nestled into Chicago’s Southwest side.

But thanks to a new state capital fund authorized by Governor Pritzker today, AGC will receive a $31 million allocation from the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to build a new campus and “school of the future”—a facility that has been designed to serve as a model for school architecture and pedagogy for 21st century learning.

“This investment will yield significant returns for the state, as the campus has been designed to serve as a cost-replicable prototype for future public school construction,” said Sarah Elizabeth Ippel, AGC’s Founder and Executive Director.

Plans for the “net-positive” campus include the integration of renewable energy sources to generate 105 percent of the school’s energy supply, a three-acre urban farm with fruit orchards and apiaries to fuel a scratch-made meal program and neighborhood farm stand.

“The learning space itself will serve as a teacher training institute for sharing best practices in education,” Ippel said, adding that while construction has not yet begun, plans have already inspired the work of architects and school leaders from across the country.

The new campus will include a new tuition-free early childhood program, extensive community gardens and a teaching kitchen in a neighborhood with limited access to green space, fresh food and early learning resources.

“In collaboration with a team of architects and designers, AGC has redesigned school architecture for the social and environmental needs of the 21st century,” according to Ippel.

AGC was one of Chicago’s first International Baccalaureate elementary schools, and its 100 percent scratch-made organic meal program and wellness curriculum serves as a pilot for the Chicago school district. AGC’s dual language immersion approach is also being replicated in collaboration with the Illinois State Board of Education.

“Since its founding, AGC’s intention was to become an incubator for innovation in education,” said Ippel. Fueled by a sense of urgency around social and environmental issues, Ippel and her colleagues started the school to prepare Chicago students to make positive changes in the world. When she was 23, Ippel rode her bicycle to speak to Chicago’s Board of Education to share her vision for the future of learning. Today, that vision has impacted five million students through program sharing with educators, schools and districts worldwide.

AGC’s vision of scale was inspired by the founding mission of public charter schools – to develop and disseminate effective solutions to the challenges faced by schools and districts throughout Illinois and across the nation, said Ippel. More than 93 percent of AGC’s student body are children of color, more than 70 percent are from low-income families, 30 percent are English language learners and 15 percent are diverse learners.

AGC students have demonstrated a tremendous capacity for academic growth, outperforming as many as 94 percent of national peers in literacy growth scores and ranking in the top eight percent of district elementary schools on comprehensive ratings. AGC is a tuition-free and open enrollment public school.

Ippel and her team have been working on the net-positive project for many years and are thrilled by the boost that this funding will provide to their scale initiatives. “We are immensely grateful to our partners in Springfield and across the state for believing in the power and potential of a learning laboratory whose doors are open to the district, city, state and educators around the world,” said Ippel.

The story of AGC’s Learning Laboratory and Sustainable Education Hub campus is documented in their book called “Reimagine Education.” Phase one architectural designs were completed by Jeanne Gang and Studio Gang Architects.

Click here for more information about AGC’s Educational Learning Laboratory and Community Sustainability Hub.

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Writing a School Food Policy That Everyone Can Stomach (Free Download!)

Writing a School Food Policy That Everyone Can Stomach (Free Download!)

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AGC’s commitment to healthy, sustainable food is central to our model and to our students’ success at AGC and beyond.

Food is a community health issue. Children require proper nutrition for optimal growth and development. Eating habits that begin in childhood play a key role in lifelong health issues like cholesterol, blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes, and can impact many other chronic diseases.

Food is a social justice issue. Nutrition-related diseases disproportionately impact low-income and minority communities, and one in four Chicago Public Schools students are obese.

Food is an academic issue.  Nutrition impacts socio-emotional and academic functioning. It is well documented that hunger has a strong negative impact on classroom behavior and academic success. Additionally, major studies have shown that the quality of a student’s diet has a major impact on academic performance even after controlling for socioeconomic factors. 

Unfortunately, most young people are not following healthy dietary guidelines. Schools can send conflicting if not detrimental messages when they promote unhealthy food in their cafeterias, vending machines, bake sales, and as rewards for classroom success.

As we were creating this unique school, knew that we wanted to develop a schoolwide culture that supported our mission and vision surrounding healthy food.

But how do we define healthy food in a way that makes sense to students, is accessible to students, and matches ever-evolving research and medical perspectives?  How do we get our teachers and families on board? How do we ask an entire community to change the way they eat? How do we honor important cultural food norms? How do we ensure that no one feels ashamed? How can we meet our students and families where they are and inspire them to grow?

We knew that it was important that our staff and parents model healthy choices for our students. We knew we wanted to help our students develop a healthy relationship with food and an appreciation for healthy food. We knew that we needed to create a schoolwide wellness policy that included nutrition guidelines.

Like most things at AGC, our food policy grew organically, over many conversations with different stakeholders. Our policy was a living breathing thing. It began as a sensible “stoplight” based on nationally accepted best practices. Over the years, specific items would appear at school that would challenge the framework. We had heated debates with our students over the hot sauce they brought from home which was salty and processed, but, they argued, encouraged them to eat more vegetables. Over time, the food policy stoplight developed into a lengthy and confusing mix of broad categories and specific products. In recent years, we reflected on the purpose and process of the stoplight in order to better clarify and curate the information.

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Click to download AGC’s Food Policy poster for free!

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Would you like to implement a food policy stoplight in your school or community?

Contact us at hello@agcchicago.org to share your stoplight success story or to inquire about support with culture, curriculum, and operations integration.

Eat What You Grow Grant Fuels a Good Food Community

Eat What You Grow Grant Fuels a Good Food Community

“Good food is a right, not a privilege. It brings children into a positive relationship with their health, community, and environment.” – Alice Waters, Chef and Founder of the Edible Schoolyard

Food can transport you to another world, connect you with nature, other cultures, and your own body. The school garden is also an excellent teaching tool, offering a hands-on application for so many subjects.

By nurturing living things, students develop responsibility, patience, and empathy. There’s also no better way to get a child to eat healthy food than to involve them in growing and cooking it. This is especially critical for low-income populations which are disproportionately affected by a lack of access to fresh produce and quality nutrition education. Unfortunately, many school cafeterias, especially those in low-income areas, rely on highly processed foods.

When AGC opened our doors and built our first garden, we dreamed of watching our students grow food for their own meals. However, at the time, it was not possible for school gardens to use their own produce in federally-funded school meal programs. There was no food safety procedure established that catered to the specifics of a school garden. For our first several years, we gave produce away from a folding table in our parking lot or slipped vegetables into our students’ backpacks for their parents.

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In 2012, the Academy for Global Citizenship joined forces with FamilyFarmed.org, Chicago Public Schools, and the Chicago Botanic Garden to create the district’s first school garden food safety manual and training program. With support from the USDA, Healthy Schools, Campaign, and others, this group developed and piloted a program which has made it possible for thousands of students around the city to eat what they grow. Since launching with an 8-school pilot in 2013, this program has been fully adopted by Chicago Public Schools and has expanded to reach students across the city.

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Recently, thanks to a generous grant, this program has been expanded to serve an additional 130 schools and to incorporate job training for high school students. We are tremendously proud of the way this initiative has grown and grateful to our partners at Chicago Public Schools for their incredible advocacy on behalf of our city’s students.

Academy for Global Citizenship

AGC’s edible schoolyard includes a greenhouse, over 40 large raised beds, and a chicken coop. Here, students and families can study every aspect of growing food. They choose heirloom seeds, help them grow, and sell them in schoolyard farmers’ markets or to local businesses. They also care for four schoolyard chickens and collect their eggs.

Our vision for the future expands this concept across 3 acres. AGC recently purchased just over 6 acres a few blocks away from our current rented building on which to build a revolutionary new sustainable campus. Nearly half of this site will be reserved for urban agriculture, which with help from a farm partner, will contribute significantly to AGC’s scratch-made and local meal program. Click here to learn more about our future. 

To support an AGC student’s access to healthy meals, consider making small monthly contribution of $7 to offset the cost of local and sustainably-sourced produce in our scratch-made meals. Click here to make a generous donation.

AGC Launches Global Citizen Workshop Series in Middle School

AGC Launches Global Citizen Workshop Series in Middle School

AGC’s Middle School program is kicking off a Global Citizen Workshop Series in two weeks with expert guest lectures and performances on social justice issues. Every month AGC students in grades 6-8 will participate in workshops led by local experts and members of our community.

AGC’s core mission is to develop mindful leaders who take action to positively impact their communities and the world beyond. In order to help our students develop the skills and aptitudes of an open-minded critical thinker, we seek to engage them in critical dialog about what is happening around the block and around the globe.

AGC’s Middle Years Program Coordinator, Berenice Salas, is spearheading this initiative alongside student and faculty leaders. Mrs. Salas brings a unique perspective as a long-time social justice educator and parent of three AGC students who has spent her whole life in our community on the southwest side. For Mrs. Salas, this workshop series is a way to proactively address the needs of our local community by encouraging grassroots advocacy.  

“We need to have critical dialogue with our students. We need them to commit to being part of the positive change in our world. This is a way for them to develop a deeper understanding of their role within our school, their community, society, and the world.” – Berenice Salas, AGC Middle Years Program Coordinator

Each workshop will feature at least one guest expert who will engage our students in reflective dialog on important issues in our community around the world.  The organizing committee has prioritized seeking experts who are represent the diversity within our community and who are aligned to AGC’s mission and vision.

The Global Citizen Workshop Series kicks off in two weeks with a workshop featuring local rapper and educator Lizzie G. Lizzie G’s programming addresses issues of race, identity, empowerment, bullying and social emotional learning, through dialog and entertainment. Local to Chicago, Lizzie frequently takes her “No Bully Zone” program  on the road, and recently returned from a tour of schools in Haiti.

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Lizzie G performs during a No Bully Zone school program in Chicago.

Proposed upcoming topics include: social media and our digital footprint; crime, drugs, and gangs; interpersonal violence and bullying; healthy sexuality and LGBTQ+ identities; and social emotional wellness. 

In addition to this workshop series for Middle School students, AGC educators are also hosting a parent discussion series. This series, which we are calling “Real Talk,” offers a safe environment and resources to support our parent community in discussing topics such as gender, race, ethnicity, and culture. Real Talk  seeks to provide a safe and respectful space to discuss tough topics, to help participants develop better understandings of different perspectives, and to encourage the sharing of personal stories and opinions.

If you are an educator or school leader interested in learning how AGC incorporates global citizenship and social justice into our culture, curriculum and operations, please contact us to learn about professional development offerings.

We are enthusiastic about these new initiatives and will keep you updated on the blog as our Global Citizen Workshops and Real Talk Series continues. As a public charter school, AGC’s budget is limited by per-pupil funding amounts, and we seek donations for important innovative programs like our Global Citizen Workshop series, 100% Organic food program, and international student travel. Click here to make a donation to support innovative programs at AGC or  contact us to sponsor an upcoming workshop.

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AGC students at a recent Peace Rally
AGC’s Wellness Wheel, Free to Print and Share!

AGC’s Wellness Wheel, Free to Print and Share!

At AGC, we are mindful of our students physical and mental health needs. Educating the whole child beings with ensuring whole child wellness. We look to the wellness wheel as a helpful symbol of our balanced wellness approach.wellness wheel

The wellness wheel guides our daily practices across culture, curriculum and operations. Every morning, students and staff share a balanced, organic breakfast followed by yoga or meditation and a community meeting. To maintain balance during a demanding 8-hour school day, students enjoy 25-minute recess and take additional 10-minute “brain breaks” throughout each day. From grades K-2, students participate in a daily wellness class which incorporates all 6 aspects of human wellness, described below. Beginning in third grade, students have a more traditional physical education course in addition to a holistic wellness course, which addresses social, emotional, environmental, spiritual, and intellectual wellness alongside topics in physical wellness, such as nutrition and hygiene. These two courses provide critical skills and guidance as our students become increasingly independent and responsible for developing their own healthy habits.

6 Dimensions of Human Wellness at AGC 

Intellectual – We practice intellectual wellness every day as we exercise and fuel our minds. We are curious, open to new ideas, and maintain an appetite for lifelong learning.

Physical – We practice physical wellness by sharing balanced and nutritious meals,  participating in daily physical activity, caring for our body in a way that supports a long life and an active lifestyle.

Emotional – We practice emotional wellness by developing our ability to handle emotions in a constructive or positive way. We do so through integrating social-emotional concepts across our curriculum in units such as “art and feelings”

Social – We practice social wellness by seeking to maintain satisfying relationships, healthy networks, and community participation.

Spiritual – We practicing spiritual wellness by taking part in activities that impart a sense of meaning and purpose in life and by developing a sense of our personal values.

Environmental – We practice environmental wellness by appreciating, respecting, and supporting our surroundings and the planet, as well as by spending time in nature.

The video below, developed by our friends at the Illinois State Board of Education and Illinois Principals Association offers a glimpse inside AGC’s Wellness program.

 

Click for a printable 11×17 Wellness Wheel_Poster! 

Please enjoy this free download. We ask that you do not edit or crop the poster, credit and, where relevant link to the Academy for Global Citizenship.

Contact us to inquire about professional development opportunities or to arrange a tour highlighting our Wellness program.

AGC is Hiring!

AGC is Hiring!

AGC is hiring for the 2019-2020 school year! Please share the opportunities below with your networks to help us reach best-fit candidates for our unique school.

The Academy for Global Citizenship (AGC) is a non-profit Chicago public charter school, located on the Southwest side. Our mission is to develop mindful leaders who take action now and in the future to positively impact their communities and the world beyond. Our innovative and holistic approach aims to foster systemic change and inspire the way society educates future generations. AGC values:

AGC Values

AGC is an internationally recognized laboratory of innovation in education, with a Dual Language program, an International Baccalaureate MYP and PYP program, and a progressive approach to multi-stakeholder collaboration. Please help us identify good-fit candidates for the following roles! Click the links below for full job descriptions.

We are looking for staff who…

  • Have a big heart to match a big brain
  • Want their work to define best practice
  • Respect and thrive in a dynamic, changing, and growing environment
  • Know extraordinary things can happen when people work hard together
  • Want to participate in a laboratory for innovation in education
  • Are (ideally) bilingual in English and Spanish

Working at AGC means…

  • Being surrounded by thoughtful, inquisitive students and hard-working, like-minded colleagues
  • Thinking outside of the box to do what is best for our students
  • Promoting student profile qualities of the International Baccalaureate Program: inquirers, thinkers, communicators, risk takers, knowledgeable, principled, caring, open-minded, well-balanced, and reflective.
  • Having high academic expectations for every student in the school every day
  • Getting your hands dirty in our school garden
  • Enjoying 100% organic, scratch-made meals prepared by our on-site chef
  • Working in an environmentally sustainable school culture

AGC is seeking exemplary applicants for the 2019-2020 school for the following positions:

For hiring-related inquiries, please contact hiring@agcchicago.org or AGC’s Executive Director at sarahelizabeth@agcchicago.org.

We are an Equal Opportunity Employer. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, gender, age national origin, or disability.

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What’s a Changemaker Advisory? A Student Explains

What’s a Changemaker Advisory? A Student Explains

So I am in a Changemaker advisory, which is a group of students who had decided to make a difference in the world one action at a time. When teachers show children how to make a difference in the world it only makes the world that much more better and more of a home to everyone. Not many schools are lucky enough to have this type of education. If you can be a part of making the world to a better place, you inspire others to do the same. That is what advisory is trying to accomplish.  We want to make this planet a place for everyone to be safe, cared for, and happy. We think this truly can be a goal for everyone to achieve. Our advisory is a group who wants to take action and continues to do so to make the world better.

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Joaquin V. and the Changemaker Advisory.

I chose to join this group at the end of 6th grade and to get my best friend to join me. I thought we could be in the same class and, as a bonus, improve our high-school applications. I thought this was a loophole to make 7th grade better. I’m glad I did because now I am helping spread awareness of all the problems we can solve in the world today, If we all joined together as one race of humans. We can accomplish so much as long as there are people willing to do it and now I am one of those people along with my best friend and my advisory group.

The way the Changemaker advisory works is that we first come up with topics — lots and lots of them. Then after we spilled out our ideas and cannot think of anymore, we proceed to start thinning them out. We think about actions that may be too complex or that need special materials that we do not have. When we have a group of topics that we are happy with, we then vote because it’s important that we take in everyone’s opinion so that the action is something we can all contribute to equally. After we completed the idea phase we continue on and start to research about the topic and have discussions about what materials we will need, what actions we will take, and when. After we take action, we discuss how it went to see our progress and how to to improve in the future.

One goal we have is currently being able to attend WE Day which is an event for kids who take action to make the world a better place. WE Day is on April 25, 2018 at the Allstate arena in Illinois, but is also happening in different places such as The United kingdom and Seattle.

I hope the Changemaker group continues to take action as the years go by and maybe even after I don’t attend AGC anymore, when I’m in college studying with my own group!  To be honest, I might not have as clear of an idea to how the future may be like for the Chagemaker group. This is my second to last year at AGC, and I feel a little concerned that we haven’t thought far into the future, even though I won’t be here. I was one of the first kids to join this special advisory, so I made a little bit of AGC history while also changing the world little by little. Even though I can’t see what the future will be like, I’m sure that it will be really bright.

– Joaquin V.

This blog post was written by a student serving as a brand ambassador in AGC’s after-school club “Telling our Stories.”