Citizen Schools Illinois

Our 2016-2017 Schools: CSIL

During the 2016-2017 school year, Citizen Schools Illinois serves approximately 400 students in 5th-8th grades by partnering with three Chicago public schools in low-income communities. in which 97% of students are Black or Latino and 95% of students are on free or reduced lunch.

Monroe Elementary School Logo

James Monroe Elementary

Logan Square 3651 W. Schubert Ave., Chicago, IL 60647

Roberto Gonzalez at Monroe

Carter Logo

The Carter G. Woodson Elementary School

Bronzeville4414 S. Evans Ave., Chicago, IL 60653

Copy of _Aniece with Noble board

Carter School Logo

Carter School of Excellence

Washington Park5728 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60637

Carter students

Building a Community of Engineers

Citizen Teachers Ever since he was young, Sanjay Kadiwala, an engineer with Motorola in Chicago, has understood the value of service. In the fourth grade, he received the Justin Wynn Award and membership into their Leadership Academy, a selective program that gives elementary and middle school students in his hometown of Evanston, Illinois opportunities to volunteer in local homeless shelters and soup kitchens. Now, years later, he is still giving back to his community as a volunteer Citizen Teacher. Each week, he shares his expertise, passion, and energy with Chicago-area middle school students to excite them about engineering.

Sanjay has always been passionate about education. A few years ago, he worked as a substitute and high school teacher.  While he eventually returned to work full time as an engineer, he still missed mentoring students.

“For me, growing up, many people have made me into the person that I am without concerns for their own financial gain. I want someone else to have access to those opportunities” he said.

He found this opportunity three years ago after hearing a presentation from Citizen Schools Illinois staff members.

“I was attracted to Citizen Schools because of the chance to be in a classroom setting again, the age- group, the chance for cultural enrichment opportunities, and combining engineering with teaching!”

It turned out that he loves working with middle schoolers so much that he came back to teach four apprenticeships in a row, and he’s even winning awards for it!  Four apprenticeships, three schools, 75 students later, he was awarded a Silver Presidential Volunteer Service Award, an honor awarded to American citizens recognizing them for their volunteer hours.  In that time he has taught everything from engineering design to yoga. This fall, he’s teaching students how to build solar cars at Chicago’s Monroe Elementary School.

Join us in congratulating Sanjay as Citizen Teacher of the month.


You mentioned one of the aspects of our program that appealed to you was the “age group?” What do you enjoy about working with middle school students on particular?

“Being in a STEM career, it’s rewarding to go into an elementary school and demo “cool things”, but the students aren’t old enough to understand the science behind everything. In my time as a high school teacher, I found that most people had made up their minds and were in the mindset of only taking a class because they had to, not because they wanted to be there. The middle school age group is extremely open in comparison. They’re old enough to understand some technical detail but not so old that they’ve made up their minds about the world and are still open to having adult mentors and are curious about world.”

What is your apprenticeship for this semester?

“This fall’s apprenticeship is Solar Car Showdown and it’s by far the most technical apprenticeship I’ve taught so far. Two of my four apprenticeships have been for the Chicago Maker Challenge, and those involved talking about ideas or coming up with technical solutions/apps that would solve an accessibility or community problem. However, the end product was usually just a storyboard explaining the app. This semester, students are actually working hands-on, in teams, building solar cars and are part of the design process.”

 What do you hope the students get out of the class?

“Just the fact that they’re building, drawing conclusions, working with a team is the core of STEM. They’re answering every day questions I face in my work as an engineer: Can you apply what you learn and then make changes or improvements or think creatively?”

 Describe a moment of discovery you witnessed with a student.

“One of our solar car teams was having an issue because their car wasn’t traveling straight and they were trying to figure out why that was happening. One of the students asked “how can I fix this and tell what’s going on?” and another using a ruler to see if one of the axels is straight compared to the other one. If they’re not aligned, it won’t go straight. They used tools available to solve the problem. While the car still wasn’t perfect, it was better. It was really cool to see a group of students work through problems, and figure out resources. That’s not really taught in a book. Sometimes you have to test and fail and then try something else. To see them work through that  at such a young age is cool. It’s rewarding that they have this experience early on that maybe they can utilize in their classes at school and maybe even outside of school.”

Describe any challenges you had as a volunteer teacher, and how you overcame them.

“In the first three schools where I taught, students really had a first line of defense towards adults in general, ‘who knows if you’ll be here next week?’ The repetition of seeing an adult, someone they could rely on week after week brought down that barrier."

Do you have any advice for anybody who wants to volunteer with middle school students?

“Frequency of seeing them is important, but also trying to explain things on their level. Working in STEM, you get so used to your career and interacting with adults, but it’s important to recognize that these are students. You also want to try to reach out to them individually because there are a lot of bright kids who aren’t getting the challenge or enrichment that they could with a knowledgeable mentor.”

Each apprenticeship culminates in a WOW! Event where students show off what they learned. At this fall’s WOW!, three of Sanjay’s students won the “Apprenticeship Mastery Award” at the Citizen Schools Illinois regional WOW! Event for the car they built.

Motorola Mobility is Citizen Schools Illinois’ largest corporate partner. Since 2013, more than 50 Motorola Mobility employees have given over 6,000 hours to impact over 170 middle school students in Chicago Public Schools. Citizen Schools is excited to continue our partnership with Motorola Mobility for the 2015-2016 school year.


The Motorola Mobility Foundation (MMF) is the philanthropic arm of Motorola Mobility LLC, a Lenovo company.  Motorola Mobility Foundation seeks to catalyze the innovative use of technology to improve lives and communities. We do this by leveraging employee expertise and talent, providing funding, and partnering with nonprofits, learning institutions, startups, government, corporate and civic organizations.


Unique Partnership Brings Police Officers and Chicago Public School Students Together

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Chicago, Illinois—September 23, 2015—Police and community relationships have been tested across our country in particularly volatile ways over the last several years. In Chicago, two organizations are teaming up to bring Chicago Public Schools (CPS) middle school studentsand officers from the Chicago Police Department together to help forge a solution. Citizen Schools and the N.O.B.L.E. (National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives) organization. This program will offer the innovative "The Law & Your Community"program at The Carter G. Woodson South Elementary School, 4414 South Evans Street in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood.

The program, created by the N.O.B.L.E., offers student participants an uncommon opportunity to develop one-on-one relationships with members of the Chicago Police Department who work the streets of their community. It will be offered as part of the Expanded Learning Time (ELT) program run by Citizen Schools Illinois.

“In these weekly meetings, our students will learn about many aspects of a police officers’ job as well as what their rights and responsibilities are as citizens of the city of Chicago,” said Erin Linville, interim Executive Director of Citizen Schools Illinois. "This opportunity will give students an in-depth look at everything from democracy to the criminal justice system to community policing to internet and social media crimes."

"It is our belief they will finish the program with a better respect for both themselves and our law enforcement officers, as well as be better equipped on how to best interact with law enforcement officers.”

Woodson students taking part in the N.O.B.L.E. “Law and Your Community” program will learn a variety of lessons which they will carry into their neighborhoods with them, among them:

  • “Know your rights” when interacting with law enforcement
  • Make smart decisions in regard to outward behavior and appearance
  • Know how to react in a situation involving potential police misconduct.

The motto throughout the 10 week session is “Be Smart. Stay Safe!”

Citizen Schools, a national education nonprofit, expands the learning day by three hours for middle school students in low-income communities across the country, providing targeted academic support, homework help and apprenticeships with community volunteers.

“We are very excited about our partnership with Citizen Schools. We look forward to having an honest and restorative exchange between our young people and law enforcement that we hope will lead to a better understanding of how to resolve the issues our nation faces and improve community-police relations in our neighborhoods,” said Carla Kupe-Arion, Director of Community Relations for the Chicago Metropolitan Chapter of N.O.B.L.E

Media Contact

For Citizen Schools: Matt Ellis | | 617-278-6560

For the N.O.B.L.E.program: Carla Kupe-Arion | | 312-401-8291

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

Citizen Schools expanded its operation to Illinois in 2012 bringing a proven model to Chicago Public Schools. During the 2015-16 school year, we will serve 500 middle school students at our five partner schools.  Please visit for more information.


PRESS RELEASE: Joint Committee on Education to Consider Bill on Expanded Learning Time

BOSTON, MASS – September 16, 2015 – The Joint Committee on Education is considering two bills (H. 396 and S. 252) that would expand the learning day at public schools across the Commonwealth. Citizen Schools, a national education nonprofit that partners with public schools in high-need communities to expand the learning day for over 1700 students in Chelsea and Boston – plus 5,000 more in California, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina and Texas – has demonstrated that expanded learning time (ELT) programs give public schools the opportunity to re-imagine the school day and provide students with the time, enrichment, and instruction they need to meet today’s high academic standards. WHAT: On Wednesday September 16, 2015, the Executive Director of Citizen Schools Massachusetts will testify before the joint committee to highlight the benefits of ELT and call for an ELT allotment in the Chapter 70 foundation funding formula.

WHERE: State House Room B-1

WHEN: Wednesday September 16, 2015 at 10:00 a.m.

WHO: Pat Kirby, Chief Growth Officer and Massachusetts Executive Director, Citizen Schools

WHY: Children spend only 20 percent of their waking time in classrooms, yet schools are expected to shoulder almost all of the responsibility for educating them. Creating a sustainable funding stream will allow schools and districts to create whole school redesign. As a result, districts can enrich the school curriculum by lending greater time to music and the arts, physical education, and other opportunities for well-rounded learning, such as internships, mentoring, and service learning; and promote partnerships between schools and after-school programs to encourage broader learning opportunities that connect directly to school-day learning.

According to a national third party evaluation study led by Abt Associates, schools with ELT increase student learning by an average of two and three months respectively in ELA and Math.

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


Press Release: James Monroe Elementary to Extend School Day This Fall

Chicago, IL – September 10, 2015 – In collaboration with Chicago Public Schools, Citizen Schools announced today that it has partnered with James Monroe Elementary to provide enhanced opportunities for many middle school students, beginning in the fall. Citizen Schools will provide the academic support and real-world learning projects necessary to set students on a trajectory of college and career success. The national nonprofit runs programs at four other public elementary schools in Chicago and dozens of other schools across the country. The school day will be lengthened by nearly two hours for all 90 students in grade 7, as well as another 70 students in grades 6 and 8, in the 2015-2016 academic year and will extend to 300 middle school students in all three grades within the next 2-3 years.

Citizen Schools partners with public schools to strengthen and expand the learning day for middle school students in low-income communities by mobilizing a team of AmeriCorps educators and volunteers to teach real-world learning projects and provide academic support in English Language Arts and math. AmeriCorps Teaching Fellows lead differentiated instruction with small groups of students, blending learning programming, and homework help. Volunteers from local companies teach hands-on “apprenticeship” projects for 10 weeks each semester, modeling success for the students in different ways and helping them make connections between their current academics and a future career pathway. For example, Google engineers teach robotics and United Airlines pilots teach aerodynamics and aviation operations.

Students also participate in college and career readiness activities including field trips to high schools, colleges, and museums. The importance of college and introductions to diverse career pathways also come through in every apprenticeship lesson and through the relationships with the AmeriCorps Teaching Fellows who are at the school full-time.

“We are very excited to partner with Citizen Schools,” said Ricardo Trujillo, Principal of James Monroe Elementary. “Exposing students to the vast array of career options during the critical middle school years will not only help students prepare for the future but will foster greater engagement in school now.”

“We look forward to partnering closely with James Monroe Elementary and surrounding community as we work together to accelerate student achievement and engagement,” said Erin Linville, interim Executive Director of Citizen Schools Illinois. “We know from our 20 years of work nationally – and three in Chicago - that when students have opportunities to learn from and be mentored by Motorola engineers, MB Financial bankers, Deloitte consultants, and scientists from Adler Planetarium, they most often achieve at higher levels on standardized assessments, grades and attendance. Learning really comes to life.”


This announcement comes at an important time as the opportunity gap continues to widen in many communities. Research shows that by age 12, a child from an affluent family will have received 6,000 more hours of enrichment activities, including academic tutoring and science clubs, than a child from a less affluent family. By connecting students to adults from a variety of professions, they are exposed to careers they might have even known existed previously while building the skills and relationships they need to succeed in high school, college, and a career.

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


PRESS RELEASE: Hikvision and Citizen Schools Provide STEM Education to Students in Need

Hikvision and Citizen Schools Provide STEM Education to Students in Need

City of Industry, CA – May 26, 2015 – HikvisionÒ USA, North America’s leading provider of innovative, award-winning video surveillance products and solutions, has teamed up with Citizen Schools, a national nonprofit organization that partners with middle schools to expand the learning day for children in low-income communities.

Hikvision volunteers provided hands-on classroom opportunities for middle school students at Chase Elementary in Chicago, where the students learned about engineering design and built alternative energy vehicles. The ten-week semester culminated in a “WOW! Event” this month where students taught back what they learned to teachers, parents, and community members. As a technology leader, Hikvision is dedicated to supporting opportunities for STEM-based education (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) across North America.

Citizen Schools, which is celebrating its twentieth anniversary this year, has a rich history of enabling public middle schools in low-income communities to provide a longer learning day with enrichment opportunities for students. Volunteers called “Citizen Teachers” visit the classroom in the extended day each week to engage the students in activities they would not otherwise be able to participate in during the school day. Students gain knowledge in topics ranging from journalism to astronomy, leading toward what Citizen Schools CEO Steven Rothstein refers to as a “moment of discovery.”

“Igniting a moment of discovery means that the students feel empowered,” Mr. Rothstein said. “They build something: the rocket flies, they’ve cooked something for the first time, their financial plan shows how they could potentially afford to go to college. These opportunities are crucial for students in many urban areas around the country. By the time they have reached 6th grade, they typically receive 6000 fewer hours of academic and personal enrichment opportunities than students in higher-income communities.”

Citizen Teachers from Hikvision taught an engineering design course at Chase Elementary where the students built structures and vehicles, tested their load-bearing capacity, and then transferred that knowledge into an understanding of how alternative energy vehicles operate and how they will affect our society in the future.

“Coming into the classroom every week and seeing how excited the students got about what they were learning was an incredible experience,” remarked Ahmed Elsayed, a sales engineer for Hikvision USA who volunteered at Chase. “Their desire for knowledge was palpable and I’m proud to be part of a program that fostered that.”

In addition to volunteer hours spent in the classroom, Hikvision also made a financial donation to provide classroom supplies.

“As a forward-thinking technology leader, Hikvision understands that the next generation of scientists and engineers are sitting in our middle school classrooms today,” stated Jeffrey He, president of Hikvision USA and Hikvision Canada. “Educating these students so they can realize their full potential will lead to a more robust workforce and a broader landscape for the STEM-based industries of the future. Hikvision is honored to play a part in facilitating this fundamental conveyance of knowledge.”

To learn more about Citizen Schools, visit

For more information about Hikvision, visit booth 822 at the Electronic Security Expo (ESX), June 24-28, at the Baltimore Convention Center, or go to

About Hikvision

Hikvision is the world’s largest supplier of video surveillance products and solutions. The company specializes in innovative video surveillance technology, as well as designing and manufacturing a full line of innovative CCTV and video surveillance products. Hikvision possesses the industry’s largest R&D team and state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities; both allow Hikvision’s customers the benefit of world-class products that are designed with cutting-edge technology. Hikvision USA is a subsidiary of Hikvision Digital Technology Co., Ltd.

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.


Media contact:

Alex Asnovich, Director of Marketing, Hikvision USA