Founded in 2004 as a part of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago, New Schools for Chicago (NSC) set out to improve outcomes for all public-school students by addressing the broader needs of the education ecosystem. We did this initially by introducing school choice into the ecosystem with an investment of $100 million to support 80 new and innovative schools, many of which were charter.

School choice has played a critical role in district-wide improvements towards better student outcomes over the past fifteen years. Overall graduation rates in Chicago have increased over 20 points; ACT scores have increased nearly two points; and reading and math scores in elementary schools have improved at rates that rank in the top of urban districts nationally.

Despite significant growth in the outcomes of Chicago students, the current conversation about education in our city focuses more on school type rather than on families’ concerns—access to a great school close to home.

While the education landscape in Chicago has shifted, our mission has remained steadfast: to radically improve education for Chicago’s children by supporting high-quality schools and choice.

We seek to dramatically impact student achievement by ensuring that every family and child has access to a high-quality school, agnostic of school type. School choice is now a norm for families in the city and something parents have come to expect. However, while choice is prevalent, access to high-quality seats is still not ubiquitous. In fact, significant disparities persist in Chicago residents’ access to high-quality schools that fall largely along racial and socioeconomic lines—as we underscore in our recently released report.

Our work is no longer about creating new options for families, but on ensuring that every family has equitable access to high-quality education choices, and that, as always, we continue to support an ecosystem that allows high-quality school options to flourish.

Real change is dependent upon significant investment in our priority areas:

  1. Shift the conversation to school quality by elevating and amplifying parent voices.
  2. Provide direct support to schools to improve outcomes.
  3. Influence policy to prioritize kids and families.

New Schools for Chicago is committed to changing the dialogue—putting “kids first” policies and school quality at the forefront of public discussion—so that high-quality school options can thrive, and that Chicago children have access to a great future.

With generous support from local and national partners our vision is to create a conducive environment for great schools to thrive, which will in turn provide 50,000 more students high-quality seats by 2020.