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