PRESS RELEASE: White House Welcomes Citizen Schools and DigitasLBi 5th Grade Apprentice as Honored Guest at National Science Fair

White House Welcomes Citizen Schools And DigitasLBi 5th Grade Apprentice As Honored Guest At National Science Fair

BOSTON—March 23, 2015—The White House will welcome Toni-Chanelle Suncar, a 5th grader from Browne Middle School in Chelsea, Massachusetts as an honored guest at the 5th Annual White House Science Fair. Toni-Chanelle will be recognized for her leadership skills while participating in a three-month apprenticeship with Citizen Schools, a leading national education nonprofit, and DigitasLBi, a global marketing and technology company.

Since 2013, DigitasLBi Boston employees have taught seven apprenticeships focusing on marketing, creative arts, and Raspberry Pi technology, which teaches students components of computers and basic programming.

Toni-Chanelle received guidance and mentorship from MacCalvin Romain, DigitasLBi’s Senior Tech Analyst, while learning fundamental elements of programming during the ten-week program. Utilizing SCRATCH, a tool developed by MIT to teach basic computer coding skills, Toni-Chanelle created “Flappy Unicorn,” a single player game. In this game, players earn points by progressing through an obstacle course and avoiding challenges along the way.  Toni-Chanelle developed programming skills that allowed her and her teammates to customize the game (game coloring, sound bites, and point structure), de-bug it as problems arise, and make changes in real-time.

The White House Science Fair hosts incredible inventions from some of America’s youngest scientists and engineers and will be live streamed on today, March 23 at 10am at

The White House Science Fair will feature remarks from President Obama, and will give participants the opportunity to interact with other talented students, senior Administration officials, and leading science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) communicators, advocates, and educators from across the country.

Hosted by President Obama, the Fair will feature innovative projects, designs, and experiments from students all across America. With students from a broad range of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) competitions, this year’s Fair will also include a focus on diversity and inclusion in STEM fields.

About Citizen Schools

Citizen Schools is a national nonprofit organization that partners with middle schools to expand the learning day for children in low-income communities. Citizen Schools mobilizes a team of AmeriCorps educators and volunteer “Citizen Teachers” to teach real-world learning projects and provide academic support in order to help all students discover and achieve their dreams. For more information, please visit

About DigitasLBi

DigitasLBi is a global marketing and technology agency that transforms businesses for the digital age. We help companies of all shapes and sizes decide What’s Next… and then we take them there. Also a top ten global agency, DigitasLBi is comprised of 6,000 digital and technology experts across 40 offices in 25 countries worldwide.
DigitasLBi is a member of Publicis Groupe, [listed on the Euronext Paris Exchange – FR0000130577 – and part of the CAC 40 index] the world’s third largest communications group. With approximately 60,000 professionals spanning 108 countries on five continents, Publicis Groupe offers local and international clients a complete range of communications services. @PublicisGroupe

Celebrating AmeriCorps Week: 20 Outstanding Alumni



Guest Post by Adam Maurer, Chief Talent Officer

This week is AmeriCorps Week. It is an opportunity for us to celebrate the 900,000 individuals who have served as Service Members since 1994. Citizen Schools has placed more than 1,400 of these members at our campuses over the past twelve years. That is almost 3 million hours of service to communities nationwide.

Citizen Schools National Teaching Fellowship is an opportunity to personally change the lives of students and to participate in the transformation of the American school day. It is also an opportunity for personal growth and development – each Fellow learning new skills and gaining a better understanding of the individual strengths that can propel them to greatness after the Fellowship. Our Fellows have significantly contributed to the fields of higher education, school reform, private industry, government service and nonprofit organizations. Our alumni hold positions from university professor to school board member to nonprofit founder.

In honor of our 20th Anniversary, we are celebrating 20 Outstanding Alumni who have served as AmeriCorps Teaching Fellows and then continued to impact the world in big ways. We asked each featured alum to update us on their career progression and how the Fellowship helped to enrich their careers. Each alumni also shares stories about their most memorable moments while serving at Citizen Schools.

Please join us in honoring the service of these 20 Outstanding Alumni and the commitment of all AmeriCorps volunteers, past and present, during AmeriCorps Week (click on a name to read full profile):

Alissa Farber

Asha Strazerro-Wild

Ben Duda

Brandi Johnson

Brent Holsinger

Dan Restuccia

Dave Bryson

David Stolow

Emily Stainer

Emmanuel Schanzer

Jaynemarie Angbah

Jon Spack

Marquis Victor

Melissa Verea

Nichole Montgomery-Boone

Philip Parham

Sara Peña

Sheldon Johnson

Valerie Schneider

Vandana Goyal

Announcing 20 Extraordinary Citizens


Guest Post by CEO Steven Rothstein

As we set out to reflect on our first 20 years, we asked you to nominate Extraordinary Citizens: people who have made our last two decades possible, and whose work will inspire us through 20 more.

Now, It’s Time to recognize them. We selected our first batch, a group of 20 Extraordinary Citizens, who have worked tirelessly to help us reimagine public education and reach millions of low-income students across the country.  With your help, we’re thrilled to announce this list of visionaries, supporters, teachers, education leaders, students, and partners.

The list includes our founders, who first said It’s Time to involve every citizen we can as we strive to close the opportunity gap for students. It includes national supporters who believe that It’s Time to invest in actualizing the dreams of our students. It includes Citizen Teachers and AmeriCorps Teaching Fellows, who know It’s Time to invest in bringing real-world skills to tens of thousands of students.

We’re grateful for the role they’ve played in supporting our mission. They represent the thousands of Extraordinary Citizens who have made our first 20 years possible. Through our entire 20th anniversary season, we’ll continue to shine a light on others like them. Thank you for being a part of this community.

Andrew Balson, Citizen Schools Board Chair 2006-2014 and CEO, Match Beyond

Alex Belous, Education Portfolio Manager, Cisco Foundation, Cisco Public Benefit Investments

Anne Bowie, Citizen Teacher and Public Service Manager, WilmerHale

Marsha Feinberg, Citizen Schools Board Chair 1996-2001, Founder and CEO, Beacon Academy

Bill Joyce, Citizen Teacher, Fidelity Investments

Tony Kingsley, Chairman, Biogen Idec Foundation

Woodrow McCutchen, Vice President, Senior Portfolio Manager, The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation

Tulaine Montgomery, Citizen Schools Founding Staff Member, Partner, New Profit Inc.

Sherif Nada, Citizen Schools Board Chair, 2001-2006, Retired, Fidelity Investments

Nicole Perdue,  Attorney and Chair, Citizen Schools Texas Advisory Board

Ned Rimer, Citizen Schools Co-Founder

MacCalvin Romain, Citizen Schools Student Alumnus 2000-2003, Senior Technology Analyst, DigitasLBI

Yaritza Sanchez, Citizen Schools Student Alumna, McCormack Middle School, 2007-2010; Stonehill College, Class of 2018

Steven Schwartz, Executive Vice President, Chief Legal and Corporate Affairs Officer, Cognizant

Eric Schwarz, Citizen Schools Co-Founder and former CEO

Moriska Selby, AmeriCorps Teaching Fellow Alumna, Citizen Schools Campus Director and Managing Director of Programs in Massachusetts; Doctor of Education Leadership candidate at Harvard Graduate School of Education

Wendy Spencer, CEO, Corporation for National and Community Service

Larry Summers, Citizen Schools Board Chair 2014-present, Charles W. Eliot University Professor and President Emeritus at Harvard University

Megan Webb, Citizen Schools Campus Director, 2007-2013, Principal, Orchard Gardens K-8 School

John Werner, Citizen Schools Founding Staff Member, Head of Innovation and New Ventures, Camera Culture Group, MIT Media Lab

In Service,


A Teacher’s Perspective on the Expanded Learning Day

Female student smiling in front of lockersAmy Bednar is a teacher at Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School in Charlotte, North Carolina. Here is her take on how Expanded Learning Time and Citizen Schools are impacting her school community. 

How long have you been involved in the education field?

This is only my second year as a teacher at MLK. However, I have been involved in the field from a young age – always reading with elementary children, working at summer camps, working as a peer tutor in college, and volunteering with after-school programs.

What brought you to the education field?

I have always wanted to be a teacher. In every autobiography I wrote for school growing up, I wrote that I would be teaching (and illustrated myself beautifully of course!). My little brothers had to sit through countless “lessons” with me, and I loved going to work with my dad to use the copy machine. My mom is also a teacher, so I guess that rubbed off pretty well! I was always the girl who loved going to school. I am naturally curious, so everything interested me. I also had awesome teachers who went above and beyond to ensure we had what we needed to be successful. I went into teaching to instill this love of learning onto the next generation and to be as influential and inspirational to my students as my teachers were (and still are) to me. Plus, I get to continue doing what I love to do!

What are your views on expanded learning time?

As a teacher, I absolutely love it. I appreciate how Citizen Schools supports us in reinforcing important topics after school. We only have 90 minutes per day to teach, which sounds like a lot, but it most definitely is not! The students are able to get the extra attention that they need after school in a smaller class setting and expand their knowledge with extension activities. Citizen Schools also reinforces important middle school habits such as the importance of completing homework, how to develop study skills, how to set and achieve goals, and how to use an agenda. I love how the program emphasizes the same values that we hold in the first shift, so our students are really getting what they need to be successful.

How do you see the Citizen Schools program impacting your students?

The biggest impact that I see Citizen Schools having on my students is giving them the confidence they need to be successful and happy in class. However, they are not only improving their academic skills and developing study habits. They are also given opportunities to engage in activities that they would not have time to do during the regular school day, such as apprenticeships. The WOW! event is my absolute favorite night of each semester. During these events, I see my students visibly light up while presenting everything that they have learned and experienced. My students speak with such passion because they are interested in what they chose to pursue. Their preparation is evident and I can see the pride on their faces. This confidence follows them into the classroom and helps them see that they can accomplish what they put their minds to do.

Four Things to Know This Spring

Announcing The Biogen Idec Foundation as the first National Innovation Partner

We are proud to announce The Biogen Idec ​Foundation ​​as our first National Innovation Partner​ thanks to a generous three-year investment of $1.5 million​. The Foundation’s support will ​allow the organization to scale ​science, technology, engineering, and math (​STEM)​ ​programming nationally. The Biogen Idec Community Labs in MA and NC have engaged employee volunteers who ​work​​ side-by-side with students each semester, helping them transform into junior scientists by using the same state-of-the-art equipment and tools that the scientists utilize to discover and create new medicine.

Meet in the Middle: Expanded Learning Summit

Citizen Schools and Higher Achievement are partnering with other leaders in the expanded learning field, including Million Women Mentors, US2020, National Center on Time & Learning, Spark, ExpandED Schools by TASC, and America Forward to host a day-long summit on Tuesday, April 21, 2015 in Washington, DC. The Summit will bring together a wide rage of voices–from policy makers to practitioners–to focus on making expanded learning opportunities the new normal for all students. Register, save the date, and add your voice to the discussion here!

New York and New Jersey Regions Merge

​We are proud to announce that the New York and New Jersey regions of Citizen Schools have merged into a single regional entity, Citizen Schools New York-New Jersey. This integration, which began February 2 and be completed by July 1 of this year, provides us with a vital opportunity to better serve our current students in both states, and grow to serve more families going forward.​ As Citizen Schools continues to grow, this reorganization will allow us to continue our successful partnership with you in service of high-quality education for all children — education that provides students with meaningful opportunities to achieve academic success and realize their dreams.  


Upcoming Spring Benefits

Don’t miss one of our exciting celebrations in Massachusetts, North Carolina, or California!

20th Anniversary Gala: Celebrating Extraordinary Citizens: To honor Citizen Schools’ 20th anniversary year, the organization will celebrate, the Extraordinary Citizens – students, Citizen Schools alumni, teachers, and community leaders – who have made an incredible impact on communities across the country. The gala will be held in Boston, Citizen Schools’ founding city, at the Fairmont Copley Plaza on Tuesday, May 12th from 6:30-8:30pm. RSVP here.

3rd Annual Charlotte Celebrating Community Collaboration Benefit: You’re invited to celebrate the partnerships that continue to expand opportunities for middle school students in the Charlotte, NC community. The event will take place at the Mint Museum Uptown in Charlotte on Wednesday, April 1st from 8-9:30 am. RSVP here.  

benefitEd 2015: Join us at Tah.Mah.Lah, “America’s greenest home,” to celebrate learning. Walk through a gallery of student work and connect with the business and community leaders helping to transform the lives of middle school students.  The event will be held at Tah.Mah.Lah in Portola Valley, CA on Thursday, May 7th at 6pm. For tickets and sponsorship opportunities, visit