Eric Schwarz

Program offers students credit for internships

By Sacha Pfeiffer BOSTON GLOBE | SEPTEMBER 10, 2016 30ServiceCorps07

An unpaid internship, Eric Schwarz likes to say, changed his life.

At age 19, Schwarz took a semester off from the University of Vermont to volunteer for Gary Hart’s 1980 Senate reelection campaign. The experience gave him job skills, self-confidence, and a professional network, leading to another political internship and, eventually, his first job.

“It put me on my path,” said Schwarz, who later became executive director of City Year Boston and cofounder of Boston-based Citizen Schools.

But Schwarz acknowledges that he could not have done that first internship without the financial support of his parents and that many less affluent students never get similar opportunities.

That’s why he cofounded College for Social Innovation, a new Boston organization that lets college students receive full academic credit while spending a semester as unpaid interns in the social service sector. Students continue paying tuition during their internship, but they incur no additional costs and their college graduation is not delayed.

Students Markiesha Duverneau and Gabrielle Greaves discussed the pros and cons of their particular leadership styles.

Students Markiesha Duverneau and Gabrielle Greaves discussed the pros and cons of their particular leadership styles.

A way for college graduates to do good and do well ServiceCorps lets corporate-bound college graduates delay their for-profit careers to work full-time in the social sector.

Less wealthy students are sometimes unable to take advantage of internship programs because some of them don’t offer college credit. And unpaid internships during the summer or school breaks aren’t an option for low-income students who need to earn money for tuition.

With that in mind, 60 percent of College for Social Innovation’s participants are low-income, minorities, or first-generation college students. The program does not pay its interns, Schwarz said, because doing so would make the program much more difficult to grow and expand. “An internship with a great mentor can be the difference-maker in someone’s career, but low-income kids don’t tend to have access to those life-changing internship opportunities, so we’re trying to give them that,” said Schwarz, who created College for Social Innovation with Lisa Jackson, who’s spent nearly two decades working in Boston’s nonprofit and philanthropic sectors.

This fall, 14 students from Clark University in Worcester and the University of New Hampshire — the program’s two partner schools so far — are participating. They’ve been paired with 14 Boston-area groups, including Codman Academy Charter Public School, Freedom House, PlayWorks, Strong Women Strong Girls, and the city of Boston’s Department of Innovation and Technology. Each week, students spend 32 hours interning, as well as one evening and one weekday in seminars, and every participant is paired with a mentor.

Cambridge resident and Clark sophomore Linda Mindaye, 19, who was born in Ethiopia, is interning at Citizen Schools.

“I didn’t want to take time off from school, but I wanted to find ways to get hands-on experience in a classroom and get credit for it,” she said.

“This program offers the middle ground of being in a classroom while staying in college and graduating on time” through an internship that emphasizes creative problem-solving in the social sector.

College for Social Innovation was similarly appealing for Sean Fogarty, 27, a self-described nontraditional student from Exeter, N.H., who just entered his senior year at UNH, where he’s majoring in sustainable agriculture and food systems.

“I had been working at a research lab on campus, but I was missing out on the ability to gain credit for that,” he said.

Through his internship at Green City Growers, which installs and maintains urban farms and vegetable gardens in Boston, he’s getting work experience without sacrificing academic credit.

Clark Provost Davis Baird said the college is rethinking its approach to education by putting more emphasis on experiences outside the classroom, and College for Social Innovation “fits perfectly with that focus,” he added.

“Consistent research says this generation cares very deeply about having a career that will make an impact on society,” said Fiona Wilson, executive director of UNH’s Center for Social Innovation and Enterprise.

Sacha Pfeiffer can be reached at pfeiffer@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at @SachaPfeiffer.

"Do the teachers like you?"

Written by Eric Schwarz, Founding CEO of Citizen Schools and author of The Opportunity Equation, launching Sept. 2

Of all the questions I get about Citizen Schools, perhaps the most frequent is: “Do the teachers like you?” Many questioners seem conditioned to expect the worst of public school teachers and assume that a second shift of educators, offering different approaches and taking less or no pay, will inspire resentment from the full-time teachers who lead classes for a majority of the day.

Generally, however, America’s teachers have embraced Citizen Schools and embraced an expanded learning day and citizen power in their schools. While a few teachers may react defensively and hide behind the closed door of their classrooms, the best teachers welcome any help they can get. Teachers’ unions as well have generally embraced Citizen Schools. As stated earlier, American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten visited the Edwards ELT [Expanded Learning Time] campus and declared it in a New York Times column, “one of the most impressive schools I have seen in America.” The Boston Teachers Union has gone so far as to explicitly advocate for a nine-plus-hour learning day for all students, with the extra time delivered either by teachers receiving extra pay or by outside programs like Citizen Schools. 

This is the opening of chapter 12 of The Opportunity Equation, my new book that launches in five days. I'm an after-school guy and an expanded learning time guy who believes that extra learning time beyond the traditional school day -- and delivered mostly by folks who aren't certified teachers -- is the unheralded key to lifting up educational opportunity in America. But expanded learning time and Citizen Schools get their power from lifting up and supporting teachers, not trashing them, as too often seems to be the fashion. As the book describes:

Allowing teachers time for pull-out tutoring, giving students extra academic practice time, and engaging parents in their child’s learning are all important ways that Citizen Schools supports teachers. But the most important way we support teachers is by motivating students to try harder in school. By exposing students to exciting real-world projects, Citizen Schools helps make traditional school subjects become more relevant and enticing. All of a sudden a topic sentence becomes a key skill to win a mock trial, not just another academic standard on a long list that needs to be mastered. A student becomes motivated to learn the Pythagorean theorem because it helps unlock the secret of programming a video game.

If you are a teacher now or aspire to be one, I hope you will check out my book and talk about it with colleagues as you continue searching for ways to build your craft and a new paradigm for schooling. If you are a parent, please consider buying the book for your school's library or for a favorite teacher or mentor.

If you are interested in purchasing The Opportunity Equation, you can buy the book from one of six major retailers here.

The Essential Starting Point Is Empathy

This post is by Eric Schwarz, Co-Founder and CEO of Citizen Schools. Two moving articles I've read in the last week have reminded me of a primary reason I started Citizen Schools -- one that has nothing to do with the education of children, or at least not directly.

Is A Hard Life Inherited? by Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times told the story of the growing isolation and impoverishment of the working class neighbors he grew up with in rural Yamhill, Oregon. A few bad choices combined with slim opportunities led boyhood friends of Kristof's to feel increasingly isolated from either the idea of or the reality of an opportunity society. Smart creative children are now too often jobless, in prison, or on drugs. Kristof describes the crisis facing working class men in Yamhill and in rural towns and inner cities all across America and then ends by wishing more of his privileged colleagues in journalism and business had more first-hand exposure to life near the poverty line. "There are steps that could help," Kristof writes, "including a higher minimum wage, early childhood programs, and a focus on education as an escalator to opportunity. But the essential starting point is empathy."

On Sunday The Boston Globe wrote a powerful story, The Working Poor Who Fight To Live on $10 an Hour, that profiled a number of Bostonians living on the financial edge. I was particularly moved by the story of Larry McCain, a man my age who described working since the age of 8, starting with sweeping up hair at a barber shop and searching for stray golf balls at Dorchester's Franklin Park Golf Course, about a mile from where colleagues and I started Citizen Schools a few decades later. Until he was fired recently, McCain worked at Logan airport, cleaning used food trays and inspecting new ones. He was earning $9 an hour, meaning that he relied heavily on the local food bank to eat and can only afford the rent in his 130-square foot rooming house apartment because of a discount he gets for cleaning the common bathroom shared by several tenants.

opp eqOver the years I have been in a few dozen apartments like McCain's, first when I accompanied my Mom on visits to see her students as a teacher in East Harlem, then as a journalist in Oakland and Quincy, MA, and most notably meeting with students from Citizen Schools when we were getting the program started.  Recruiting into Citizen Schools the children of Moms and Dads who worked hard but still lived below or barely above the poverty line was a big part of my job. As I write about in my book, The Opportunity Equation, these conversations were deeply moving for me. I was just starting a family myself, and while in some ways my life was very different from that of the parents we worked with, in so many other ways we saw things eye to eye.

A primary goal of Citizen Schools has always been to give young people extra learning time, extra mentoring, and extra chances to successfully engage in hands-on, real-world projects. But that is not the only goal. Another primary goal is to build understanding and empathy among those who hold power today. When our Citizen Teachers -- many of them financial advisers and engineers and white shoe lawyers -- make their way into urban schools on the other side of the tracks from where they live and work, they build empathy. The kids get access to a new world. And so do the adults. Statistics become faces. Hopeless narratives you see on TV become hopeful narratives you see in front of you. Inner-city kids become creative problem solvers and eloquent defenders of their ideas.

My hope has always been that eventually the adults involved with Citizen Schools will realize the urgency of lifting opportunity for all, as many of them already do. "Those" kids become "our" kids, or "my" kids. Eventually, as with Lindy Smalt, an AmeriCorps Teaching Fellow profiled in my book, the mentors in Citizen Schools have their justice nerves awakened. For Lindy, the epiphany came from her work with Abdellah, a student in her class. "He is small and gets swallowed in large classes of screaming, sassy preteens," she wrote. "But he is diligent, positive, and extremely kind, and he deserves a chance.  And there are millions more like him."

I hope you will join me at an upcoming book event (see list here) and pre-order the book for yourself and for a favorite teacher or mentor in your life.

The Opportunity Equation: How Citizen Teachers Are Combating the Achievement Gap in America's Schools

This post is by Eric Schwarz, Co-Founder and CEO of Citizen Schools. In jopp equst over a month my book -- our book -- hits the bookstores and I'm going to be hitting the road.  The Opportunity Equation is part personal story, large part Citizen Schools story, and most of all a call to action to citizens across the country to get active in addressing our nation's growing opportunity and achievement gaps.

The book is already getting pre-publication reviews and they are encouraging. Kirkus Reviews calls the book "a call to action for citizens and educators so that the achievement gap can be closed as rapidly as possible."  And Publisher's Weekly said, "Combining data-rich statistics with frequently funny and animated accounts of his work with Citizen Schools, including a bracing candor about mistakes and learning on the fly, Schwarz offers...a constructive blueprint for boosting achievement without abandoning public education."

It is my hope that this book will provoke new thinking about education, build understanding, influence policy, and mobilize citizens to do their part in lifting up opportunity for all children. Stories like that of Alan Su, a whiz kid engineer at Google who taught a computer programming apprenticeship five times at the Clarence Edwards Middle School, and of Margie Tkacik, who allowed me to be the first Citizen Teacher in our program when I taught a journalism apprenticeship in her classroom, will help readers see themselves as key participants in the change that needs to happen.

I want to use the book and a planned 20-city book tour in September to advance the ideals of Citizen Schools and advance understanding of the opportunity gap that exists—and is growing—for low-income youth. The conversation needs to shift from blaming convenient scapegoats like teachers unions and poverty to lifting up solutions and finding practical ways to empower everyday citizens to improve our schools. This message can only truly take root if we mobilize thousands of citizens like you to promote the ideas of the book and the values that Citizen Schools represents. We’ll be in touch before the September 2nd launch date with more ways you can be a part of this movement, but for now want to share a few ways to help us build momentum:

  1. The book is now available for pre-order, so if you’d like to be one of the first to read it, click here to learn about ordering options.
  2. Learn more about the book and share the site via social media to spread the word!
  3. Read excerpts from the book and start a dialogue with others in your network.
  4. Plan on coming to one of the book tour events in September (30+ events in 20+ cities) and commit to promoting the book and the events in your network via social media and personally inviting your friends.
  5. Share your own Citizen Schools story. We want all elements of this book tour to celebrate the impact that Citizen Schools has on the students, Citizen Teachers, AmeriCorps Teaching Fellows, and more, and we need your help. Submit your story to our blog!

I look forward to reflecting back on these upcoming months and seeing that they truly galvanized those inside and outside of the Citizen Schools community to elevate our conversation about education and lift up opportunity for all children.  Thanks in advance for your interest and commitment.

Expanded Learning Time Panel Discusses How Community Partners Can Make an Impact for Students

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-TVyBqLSHjk "Extended learning may be the only reason some young people come to school." - Jonathan Brice, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, US Department of Education.

On May 19, the Center for American Progress (CAP) hosted a panel, All Hands on Deck: How Expanded Learning Time Schools and Community Partnerships Work Together to Improve Outcomes for Students, to discuss how expanded learning time (ELT) and community partnerships can create a positive impact for students and schools.

The event featured remarks from Carmel Martin, Executive Vice President of Policy at CAP, and Jonathan Brice, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, US Department of Education. The panel was moderated by Jennifer Davis, Co-Founder and President of the National Center of Time and Learning, and included Eric Schwarz, Co-Founder and CEO of Citizen Schools, Megan Bird, Managing Director of Program for Citizen Schools Massachusetts, Chris Caruso, ExpandED Schools Senior Vice President, and Kerri Ayn Seow,  Third Grade Teacher, Thurgood Marshall Academy Lower School.

The panelists discussed how community organizations, such as Citizen Schools, have partnered closely with schools and their administration to make an impact for students, teachers, and the community at large with an expanded day. The additional hours allow for more time for academics, more enriching activities, and more time for teacher collaboration and planning.

"ELT gives me the chance to teach what I wasn't able to during class and the extra activities enrich my lessons," Kerri Ayn Seow.

Read more about the event here.

 

 

PRESS RELEASE: Lawrence H. Summers Announces Steven Rothstein as CEO of Citizen Schools

CONTACT:  Holly Trippett, Citizen Schools, 301-452-3904, hollytrippett@citizenschools.org FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

LAWRENCE H. SUMMERS ANNOUNCES STEVEN ROTHSTEIN AS CEO OF CITIZEN SCHOOLS

May 22, 2014 – Boston, Mass. – Citizen Schools’ national Board Chair Lawrence H. Summers announced that the board has unanimously selected Steven Maze Rothstein as the organization's next Chief Executive Officer. Rothstein will join Citizen Schools August 1, 2014 as CEO-elect and will assume the CEO role on September 1, 2014. He will succeed Co-Founder and CEO Eric Schwarz, who led the organization for nearly 20 years. “At a time of growing inequality of opportunity, Citizen Schools has proven that expanded learning time significantly boosts academic proficiency,” said Summers. “Steven Rothstein is uniquely suited to continue the great work of Eric Schwarz. The board, the staff, and I are excited to work with Steven as we provide opportunities for academic success to all students.” Rothstein recently stepped down as President of The Perkins School for the Blind, where he served as President for 11 years. At Perkins, the nation’s first school for the blind, which counts Helen Keller among its alums, Rothstein grew in-person and online educational services from 40,000 to 850,000 students, parents, and teachers; completed a $136 million capital campaign, the largest in the school’s history; and grew annual operating revenue from $40 million to $72 million. Rothstein previously served as Co-Founder and General Manager of Citizens Energy Corporation, the world’s first nonprofit social mission oil company, increasing gross annual sales for Citizens and related companies to more than $2 billion. Citizens, which was Co-Founded and is now led by former Congressman Joe Kennedy, has provided free home heating oil to an estimated half a million elderly individuals and low-income families. Rothstein also served as Assistant Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Mental Retardation from 1987 to 1990. The national board's appointment of Rothstein came at the unanimous recommendation of an eight member search committee chaired by Sherif Nada, a former Citizen Schools board chair, and including five board members, a major funder, and two members of the national staff. Search firm Isaacson Miller supported the search. “I am honored and humbled to join the Citizen Schools team,” said Rothstein. “The opportunity to work with smart people, volunteers, donors, supporters, and public officials to positively impact urban education is incredibly exhilarating. I am excited to continue the momentum that Eric and the team have built to impact thousands of students nationwide.” “Steven Rothstein is a innovative, experienced, and compassionate leader,” said Schwarz. “I look forward to supporting him and our excellent team during this transition. Citizen Schools has invented a new approach to education -- an approach that offers low-income children the extra academic practice, mentoring support, hands-on projects, and strong social networks needed to fully close opportunity and achievement gaps. Our results are strong, but now the challenge is scale. We need to make Citizen Schools the new normal in urban education.” Founded in Boston in 1995, Citizen Schools partners with underserved public middle schools across 14 school districts in seven states to dramatically expand the learning day by 400 hours each academic year. The organization mobilizes a team of AmeriCorps Teaching Fellows and volunteer “Citizen Teachers” who provide academic coaching and skill-building apprenticeships. Rigorous external evaluations indicate that Citizen Schools’ Expanded Learning Time (ELT) initiative significantly boosts academic proficiency, helps schools provide a well-rounded education, and more than doubles interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) through apprenticeships like robotics and video game design. A study of Citizen Schools students in Boston, MA and Charlotte, NC indicated that Citizen Schools helps students fully close high school completion and college access gaps with their middle income peers while also narrowing the college completion gap. Citizen Schools addresses a growing opportunity gap that is fueling growing inequality between lower and higher-income children in everything from test score proficiency to college graduation rates to lifelong earnings. A study by The Afterschool Corporation found that by the time children from low-income households reach 6th grade, their middle and upper-income peers spend 6,000 more hours engaged in formal and informal learning. Another study by educational economist Richard Murnane indicated that upper-income families have tripled their investment in their children’s education in a generation, while lower-income children have counted on resources from public schools. 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. In the 2013-2014 academic year, the nonprofit served over 4,900 students and engaged 240 AmeriCorps Teaching Fellows and over 5,000 volunteer teachers. For more information, please visit http://www.citizenschools.org/.

Summers Announces Rothstein as CEO of Citizen Schools

Left to right: Larry Summer, Citizen Schools' national Board Chair, Emily McCann, President of Citizen Schools, Steven Rothstein, appointed CEO of Citizen Schools, and Eric Schwarz, Co-Founder and CEO of Citizen Schools Citizen Schools' national Board Chair Lawrence H. Summers announced that the board has unanimously selected Steven Maze Rothstein as the organization's next CEO. Rothstein will join Citizen Schools on August 1, 2014 as CEO-elect and will assume the CEO role on September 1, 2014, succeeding Co-Founder and CEO, Eric Schwarz. This story was featured in the Boston Business Journal this morning.

“At a time of growing inequality of opportunity, Citizen Schools has proven that expanded learning time significantly boosts academic proficiency,” said Summers. “Steven Rothstein is uniquely suited to continue the great work of Eric Schwarz. The board, the staff, and I are excited to work with Steven as we provide opportunities for academic success to all students.”

Rothstein recently stepped down as President of The Perkins School for the Blind, where he served as President for 11 years. At Perkins, the nation’s first school for the blind, which counts Helen Keller among its alums, Rothstein grew in-person and online educational services from 40,000 to 850,000 students, parents, and teachers; completed a $136 million capital campaign, the largest in the school’s history; and grew annual operating revenue from $40 million to $72 million. Rothstein previously served as Co-Founder and General Manager of Citizens Energy Corporation, the world’s first nonprofit social mission oil company, increasing gross annual sales for Citizens and related companies to more than $2 billion. Citizens, which was Co-Founded and is now led by former Congressman Joe Kennedy, has provided free home heating oil to an estimated half a million elderly individuals and low-income families. Rothstein also served as Assistant Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Mental Retardation from 1987 to 1990.

The national board's appointment of Rothstein came at the unanimous recommendation of an eight member search committee chaired by Sherif Nada, a former Citizen Schools board chair, and including five board members, a major funder, and two members of the national staff. Search firm Isaacson Miller supported the search.

“I am honored and humbled to join the Citizen Schools team,” said Rothstein. “The opportunity to work with smart people, volunteers, donors, supporters, and public officials to positively impact urban education is incredibly exhilarating. I am excited to continue the momentum that Eric and the team have built to impact thousands of students nationwide.”

“Steven Rothstein is an innovative, experienced, and compassionate leader,” said Schwarz. “I look forward to supporting him and our excellent team during this transition. Citizen Schools has invented a new approach to education -- an approach that offers low-income children the extra academic practice, mentoring support, hands-on projects, and strong social networks needed to fully close opportunity and achievement gaps. Our results are strong, but now the challenge is scale. We need to make Citizen Schools the new normal in urban education.”

Founded in Boston in 1995, Citizen Schools partners with underserved public middle schools across 14 school districts in seven states to dramatically expand the learning day by 400 hours each academic year. The organization mobilizes a team of AmeriCorps Teaching Fellows and volunteer “Citizen Teachers” who provide academic coaching and skill-building apprenticeships. Rigorous external evaluations indicate that Citizen Schools’ Expanded Learning Time (ELT) initiative significantly boosts academic proficiency, helps schools provide a well-rounded education, and more than doubles interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) through apprenticeships like robotics and video game design. A study of Citizen Schools students in Boston, MA and Charlotte, NC indicated that Citizen Schools helps students fully close high school completion and college access gaps with their middle income peers while also narrowing the college completion gap.

Citizen Schools addresses a growing opportunity gap that is fueling growing inequality between lower and higher-income children in everything from test score proficiency to college graduation rates to lifelong earnings. A study by The Afterschool Corporation found that by the time children from low-income households reach 6th grade, their middle and upper-income peers spend 6,000 more hours engaged in formal and informal learning. Another study by educational economist Richard Murnane indicated that upper-income families have tripled their investment in their children’s education in a generation, while lower-income children have counted on resources from public schools.

Rothstein is moving to Somerville with his wife, Susan Maze Rothstein, a professor of law at Northeastern University. The couple has two sons. One is a doctor and the other is a student at Williams College. Rothstein was selected as a student member of the Massachusetts board of education while still in high school and later, as a parent in the Brookline public schools, served as chair of the Brookline Extended Day Program. Rothstein graduated with honors from Williams College and received a Master of Business Administration degree from Northeastern University through the school’s evening program.

Larry Summers Shares How Citizen Schools is a Solution

Eric Schwarz is the Co-Founder and CEO of Citizen Schools _dsc0930At a time of growing innovation but also growing inequality, Citizen Schools is poised to scale our impact with Larry Summers, President Emeritus at Harvard University and former Treasury Secretary of the United States, as our new national board chair. Summers has seen Citizen Schools up close through his work with the Dever-McCormack ELT school in Boston, where his daughter Ruth serves as an AmeriCorps Teaching Fellow, and at our annual WOW! Bowl flag football competition. He has a compelling capacity to explain our work in the context of history and economic trends.

On March 6, I was pleased to welcome business and finance leaders in New York City to hear Larry discuss education and the economy, and the key reasons why he believes Citizen Schools is a solution to our most pressing education challenges.

_dsc0911"I believe the battle for America's future, and its legitimacy, will be won or lost in its public schools," Summers said in his speech. "The approach being pioneered and driven by Citizen Schools is a remarkably effective approach, a remarkably scalable approach, and an approach consistent with the broad value of American society – that Americans are people who pitch in with a sense of community to solve problems."

To read Larry's full speech and learn more about his perspective on closing the opportunity gap click here.

Organizational Statement: Citizen Schools CEO Plans Transition

Eric Schwarz at the Citizen Schools offices. Citizen Schools announced today that Co-Founder and CEO Eric Schwarz plans to step down from his executive role by the end of 2014 and that the organization is starting a search for a new CEO. The organization has formed an eight-member search committee that includes Board chair Andrew Balson, Chair-elect Larry Summers, President Emily McCann, and former board chair Sherif Nada, who will chair the committee; the board has hired Isaacson Miller to support the search and expects to appoint a new CEO by the start of the 2014-15 school year.

Schwarz said the timing is good for a transition with a strong new chairman, Larry Summers, in place, an outstanding leadership team, deep corporate partnerships, a clear strategic plan, and a soon to be released external evaluation report showing strong results for the Citizen Schools Expanded Learning Time model.

Schwarz said he plans to pursue entrepreneurial opportunities in the higher education area and will stay engaged with Citizen Schools as an adviser and “doing anything the new CEO and the board want me to do.” He is currently a member of the board and executive committee and will serve as an adviser to the search committee. Schwarz said he has no deadline for departing and will stay until a new CEO is selected and on-boarded. The goal is to identify the new CEO by mid-summer and have them start by Labor Day, with Schwarz leaving on October 1.

Eric-student

President Emily McCann said that she and the organization’s six-member Executive Team and 18-member Leadership Team have been meeting with Schwarz about the upcoming transition and are prepared to continue improving and growing the organization. “Eric is an extra-ordinary visionary but he has also worked hard with the board and the senior team to put in place a clear strategic plan, a stronger than ever board and leadership team, great funding partners, and an increasingly powerful track record,” said McCann. “We have a solid foundation to build upon and an opportunity in the coming decade to establish a national Expanded Learning Time model that fundamentally changes and improves educational opportunity.”

Andrew Balson, who has been chair of the board since 2006, and who will remain on the board after Summers becomes chair next month, said “Eric has been a wonderful leader for Citizen Schools over the past nineteen years. He has grown the organization from a concept to a nationally recognized leader in education reform that improves the educational attainment of thousands of students every year. As great leaders do, Eric has worked with the board and senior team at Citizen Schools to put in place a clear strategy, a strong team, and a clear and thoughtful transition plan. While we will miss Eric’s daily leadership, he leaves a strong organization that has achieved great results with students and is expanding rapidly.”

All Citizen Schools Board Chairs

Chair-elect Larry Summers said: “It is the mark of a great organization that when a strong leader moves on another one takes his or her place. I have gotten to know Eric Schwarz over the last year and have enormous admiration for all he has accomplished since founding Citizen Schools nineteen years ago. I look forward to being part of the process of identifying a new leader who can build on the very strong foundation that now exists and take Citizen Schools to a new and higher level in the struggle for equality of opportunity.”

Schwarz is also the Executive Chairman of US2020, a STEM mentoring initiative that is being incubated by Citizen Schools and will become an independent organization in July. Schwarz said he expects to stay engaged on the US2020 board but to wrap up any executive role in late 2014 or early 2015.

Isaacson Miller will support the search for the new CEO and will post the position on its website, by end of day Jan. 15. The final position description will be posted Jan. 27.

Inquiries about the position can be made to John Muckle, who is coordinating the search, at jmuckle@imsearch.com.

CEO Eric Schwarz Welcomes Larry Summers as National Board Chair

Eric Schwarz is the CEO and Co-Founder of Citizen Schools. 

I am excited and proud to share the news that Larry Summers, the President Emeritus of Harvard University and former Treasury Secretary, has agreed to become our next board chair. Please check out the story from this morning's Boston Globe. Yesterday morning Larry spoke at a Citizen Schools breakfast event in Boston with prospective and current supporters. Larry began his talk by sharing, “I’m here because I care about equality of opportunity.” I have met Larry six times now over the last nine months and have been consistently impressed by his deep commitment to education, his intellect, and his desire to make a difference. Larry described inequality of opportunity based on family income in America as “unacceptable.” He said rethinking our educational system in order to close this gap is an urgent national challenge. I couldn't agree more.

Summers breakfast 11.19.13 (1)

During his talk, Larry recalled a story from his time as Secretary of the Treasury of the United States. The event has, in his words, “haunted” him ever since. In his role, Larry would often visit cities across the country to meet with the local Treasury departments and finance leaders. On every trip he insisted on stopping by a public school in the city. Sometimes he would teach a short class on economics or speak to members of teaching staff, always trying to learn more and share more.

It was a trip to an inner-city school in Oakland that still sticks with him today.He had just finished giving the students a speech about the importance of education and was feeling very good about it, when he was approached by a teacher. She congratulated him on the speech, but then asked how her students were supposed to believe him when the school's walls were completely chipped away and hadn't been painted in 18 years. She asked him how the students could believe him when they got nauseous during dissections in science class because the ventilation system was broken. He didn't have an answer for her.

We are not the whole answer to the question of how low-income students in under-resourced schools can have the same opportunities as their more privileged peers. But I believe that Citizen Schools can be a very important part of the answer  And I know Larry Summers does too.

I am lucky to have partnered deeply with a great founding chair -- Marsha Feinberg -- who was then joined by a terrific co-chair in the early years, Shashi Rajpal. Over the last 13 years Sherif Nada and then Andrew Balson have been terrific partners as board leaders as we have established ourselves as national leaders in education reform. I believe Larry Summers will bring a wealth of connections and insight and a deep commitment to education as a driver of shared economic prosperity. With all of our partnership, he can help lead us to an ever-greater position of influence and impact on behalf of low-income children across the country.

Please see the list of our current board members below.In his talk, Larry shared the “unacceptable” fact that by the time they reach middle school, children from middle and upper income families have received 6,000 more hours of learning time than their low-income peers. This time comes from things like more summer programs, more time with parents, more out-of-school enrichment and additional access to pre-school programs.

Larry, one of the country’s most brilliant economic minds, noted that this opportunity gap and consequent achievement gap, is not just a social justice issue – it is an economic issue that threatens the continued prosperity of every citizen. In America today, for both the affluent and the impoverished, parental wealth now predicts adult success more than at any point in over 100 years. Larry believes that Citizen Schools can help reverse this dangerous trendline and he is excited to help us work towards our vision of closing opportunity and achievement gaps. I am honored that he is joining us in this mission.

Over the past 18 years we've grown from an after-school program in Boston, to a nationally respected expanded learning day model in twelve districts in seven states. Now we are trying to take the next step and turn a growing set of proof points into a definitive case for how to transform low-income middle schools. Larry is in a unique position to help guide and support us as we make our case.

We have an opportunity to present the country with a model that can transform a low-income, poor-performing public middle school into a high-performing, high-opportunity change agent. That's a powerful opportunity. With continued dedication and our growing community of champions, which now includes Larry Summers, I believe we can seize it.

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Current board members:

  • Andrew Balson (Board chair) - Managing Director, Bain Capital
  • Larry Summers (Board chair-elect) - Charles W. Eliot University Professor and President Emeritus, Harvard University
  • Rob Dickey - Executive Vice President, Leggat McCall Properties
  • Peter Gorman – Senior Vice President, Amplify Education
  • Tripp Jones – Managing Director, New Profit Inc.
  • Sherif Nada (Past board chair) – Retired President, Fidelity Investments
  • Rosemary Reilly (Clerk, non-voting member) - Partner, WilmerHale
  • Ned Rimer (Citizen Schools Co-founder) – Co-Founder & CEO, Ithaka, LLC
  • Steven Schwartz – Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Cognizant Technology Solutions
  • Eric Schwarz – Co-founder & CEO, Citizen Schools
  • Susan Siebert (incoming board member) – Partner, Jones Day
  • Edward Skloot – Former Director, Center for Strategic Philanthropy of Duke University
  • Sanjeev Verma – Co-founder and Executive Vice President, Airvana
  • Omar Wasow – Assistant Professor, Princeton University
  • Lynn Wiatrowski – Executive Vice President, Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Huffington Post: US2020 STEM Mentoring Effort Gathers Momentum

Reposted from the Huffington Post: Impact-- US2020 STEM Mentoring Effort Gathers Momentum. By Eric Schwarz, CEO and Co-Founder of Citizen Schools, and Executive Chairman of US2020. Posted on November 12, 2013. US2020 STEM Mentoring Effort Gathers Momentum

The call was answered. Last month 52 cities self-organized to compete in a nation-wide competition designed to address one of our nation's great challenges. I am honored today to announce the finalists of the US2020 STEM Mentoring City Competition.

What is our challenge? By 2018 there will be a projected three million new job openings in science, technology, engineering, math (STEM) fields and we do not have the talent to fill them. There is a projected gap between openings and qualified applicants of almost two million. The U.S. currently ranks 23rd in science performance in international tests, and 31st in math. Of all engineers, only 14% are women and 5% are African American. These realities undermine the economic and social strength of our country.

So what do we do? 52 cities have an answer.

In June of this year, President Clinton formally announced the US2020 STEM Mentoring City Competition at the Clinton Global Initiative. The challenge was for cities across the country to develop plans to dramatically scale their STEM mentoring capacity, with a focus on increasing high-quality mentoring opportunities for girls, low-income youth, and students of color. The winners will share in nearly $1 million in resources from US2020 and solidify a reputation as a leading city in STEM education. On September 18th, the application process opened. I expected that at most we would get two dozen applications. But less than two months later, the breadth and diversity of the applying cities is incredible (see map below). 52 cities each formed coalitions of local government, business, schools and nonprofits, who all came together to design ways to dramatically scale high-quality STEM mentoring.

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When I say mentoring, I am not talking about a traditional "career day" where parents stop by their child's school to talk about their job for a few minutes, or maybe conduct a single cool experiment The mentoring that these cities are scaling is leading scientists teaming up with teachers to co-teach the chemistry of forensics during the regular school day, NASA physicists running semester-long, after-school robotics programs and Google programmers showing urban youth how to design smartphone apps on weekends. These cities know that providing students with multiple, experiential learning opportunities with talented, committed, and well-supported STEM professionals can significantly increase inspiration and achievement in STEM.

Mentoring creates moments of discovery -- those eureka moments when children launching rockets, building robots, or designing their own computer program open their eyes wide to a world of previously unknown possibility. US2020 and these 52 cities are trying to grow the number of these moments of discovery exponentially.

Every application was judged by an independent team of national leaders in STEM education and civic innovation. Thirteen finalists emerged as having the most viable plans to dramatically scale STEM mentoring in their respective cities. The US2020 City Competition finalists are:

• Allentown, PA • Baton Rouge, LA • Boston, MA • Charlotte, NC • Chicago, IL • Houston, TX • Indianapolis, IN • New York, NY • Philadelphia, PA • Research Triangle Park, NC • San Francisco, CA • Tulsa, OK • Wichita, KS

A well-deserved congratulation to them all!

Beginning this month, representatives from these cities will start working with the US2020 team and education and policy leaders to hone their strategies and build upon their coalition. We expect that all 13 cities will proceed with their implementation plans and will receive support from US2020. By February, based on review of more in depth STEM mentoring plans, 3-5 of the cities will be selected as US2020's first official city partners and will receive additional support. These cities will share in $1 million in support from US2020 and national recognition from the White House as they begin to implement their programs in the 2014-15 school year.

In a competition not every application wins but every city that applied to this competition has the opportunity to win. Every applying city formed impressive coalitions that are committed to a shared vision for transforming STEM education in their community. The inspiring plans that came out of every city can continue to be implemented. The country needs them to be implemented. In fact, I actually believe that the real possibility of US2020 lies not in the handful of "winning cities," and "finalist" cities but in the dozens of additional cities that hopefully continue down the path they have started to inspire the next generation of STEM practitioners.

US2020 was formed from a White House call for an "all hands on deck" effort to change the trajectory of STEM education in America, in particular for girls, low-income youth and children of color. This month that call was answered. US2020 is proud to partner with these finalists cities as they turn their answers into realities.

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About US2020 US2020 is a new organization formed through a partnership of education non-profits and corporate leaders in the STEM field. US2020 is being incubated within Citizen Schools, a leading education non-profit and will become a standalone non-profit entity in 2014. US2020's mentoring model was inspired in part by the apprenticeship model of Citizen Schools through which tens of thousands of leading scientists, engineers and technologists are teaching children as part of after-school and expanded learning day programs, dramatically boosting interest in STEM careers and academic proficiency.

 Follow Eric Schwarz on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@cschools

White House Tech Inclusion Event Features US2020

Eric Schwarz is the Co-Founder and CEO of Citizen Schools and the Executive Chairman of US2020 "US2020 has a really mind boggling and awesome goal which is by 2020 to deploy 1 million new STEM mentors in American schools. I think all of us can remember a moment when someone loved us enough and cared about us enough to actually help point us to something that got us engaged in what we're actually now doing. There's a whole bunch of evidence that injecting more mentoring into schools will create moments of inspiration that will actually catapult a whole new generation of kids into science and tech careers."- Todd Park, Chief Technology Officer of the United States of America, at the White House "Champions of Change" event.

photo (13)Yesterday on July 31, the White House hosted an event featuring Tech Inclusion initiatives including US2020. The event celebrated and honored local change-agents who are making moments of wonder and discovery happen for kids – specifically those from communities underrepresented in careers that rely on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills.

Leaders across the country are working to help create these incredible moments every day. Many, including US2020 and its Founding Partners, including Salesforce, the latest tech company to join our effort, are working hard to connect and spark young minds through mentoring programs. At the White House event yesterday Nate Hurst, a leader at US2020 partner HP, said his company has looked to spark innovation in America through its people ever since legendary founders Dave Packard and Bill Hewlett started the company in a Silicon Valley garage in 1939. Hurst said US2020 is helping HP advance this goal by connecting its engineers to high-quality mentoring opportunities near where they work and live.

Earlier this week, Tom Kalil, the White House’s deputy director of science and technology policy, said that organizations like US2020 and Citizen Schools, which is incubating the US2020 effort, act as the "connective tissue" between companies and schools to help make mentoring more effective at ensuring a qualified future work force. At US2020, we are dedicated to doing our part. In September 2013 we will launch a City Competition focused on finding ways to dramatically scale STEM mentoring in up to five American communities and develop solutions to the STEM crisis in America. Find out more about how you can get involved and encourage your city to apply by visiting: http://us2020.org/city-competition/.

National Service Task Force Announced at the White House

Eric Schwarz is the CEO and Co-Founder of Citizen Schools and the Executive Chairman of US2020.

Today was an exciting day for national service and volunteerism. President Obama honored the 5,000th Daily Point of Light Award winner and President George H.W. Bush for his lifetime of public service including as founder of the Points of Light movement which promotes the power of individuals to change the world through service. Building on the tradition of bipartisan support for national service and volunteerism, President Obama announced the creation of the National Service Task Force led by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). The Task Force of cabinet-level appointees will look at new ways to expand national service to meet needs in America in collaboration with other Federal agencies and the private sector.

tf and kid

Last month, I wrote a blog post in response to Gen. McChrystal’s call to national service in the Wall Street Journal. Young Americans are hungry for national service opportunities, but there aren’t enough positions to accommodate all who want to serve. In fact at Citizen Schools and AmeriCorps overall, there are about seven qualified applicants for every available position.

The new taskforce will help open up more service positions to complement the critically important work of CNCS programs like AmeriCorps. The task force will be co-chaired by Wendy Spencer, CEO of CNCS, and Cecilia Munoz, head of the Domestic Policy Council.  It will look to create additional cross-agency service collaborations - building on FEMA Corps, School Turnaround AmeriCorps, and STEM AmeriCorps - and pursue other ways to advance options for more Americans to serve.

tf group

National service is already having a major impact on our country’s future. One example is the Citizen Schools National Teaching Fellowship, one of many AmeriCorps opportunities, which adds time and resources to schools that are stretched too thin.

AmeriCorps Teaching Fellows provide academic support, make connections between college and careers, and help students build critical skills to prepare for the 21st century workplace. Thanks to these AmeriCorps Teaching Fellows and hundreds of volunteers from corporations and organizations across the country, Expanded Learning Time (ELT) schools are seeing 10-20 percentage point gains in math and English in just three years. Students are graduating at a rate 20% higher than their matched peers. And they are excited to become future engineers, doctors, and computer programmers, expressing interest in STEM careers at more than twice the rate of their peers.

It is exciting to hear President Obama and President Bush come together to harness American idealism and national service as a way to solve the great challenges the country faces. Citizen Schools is tackling several of these challenges head-on, including the current STEM education challenge. The demand for professionals in the STEM fields is projected to dramatically outpace the supply of STEM graduates over the coming decades, partly because many students, particularly girls and underrepresented minorities, receive little exposure to STEM opportunities. A Lemelson-MIT survey found that a majority of teenagers may be discouraged from pursuing STEM careers because they do not know anyone who works in these fields and they do not understand what people in these fields do.

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Through Citizen Schools’ volunteer-led “apprenticeship” opportunities and the newly formed US2020 initiative, students will have the chance to make that connection between school and STEM careers. US2020 aims to help prepare the next generation of innovators by recruiting and training STEM professionals to lead school-based and extra-curricular projects with students, such as building robots, conducting medical experiments, designing video games, and launching rockets.

By bringing one million mentors into classrooms across the country by the year 2020 through nonprofits like Citizen Schools, the Girl Scouts, 4H and more, students will be able to have the inspiration they deserve. Those moments of discovery would not be possible without dedicated AmeriCorps members and volunteers. They are truly points of light.

With the new Task Force, STEM AmeriCorps and US2020 will have more opportunities for VISTA and AmeriCorps members to act as the essential mobilizers of volunteer STEM mentors, helping them connect underserved children to opportunities in STEM fields. I believe national service can bridge the gaps that exist in education and I am excited to work with AmeriCorps and others to get more STEM professionals out of their labs and their cubicles and into classrooms and extended day programs.

Huffington Post: How We Can Solve the STEM Crisis Through Innovation

Huffington Post: Impact June 18, 2013

How We Can Solve the STEM Crisis Through Innovation

Eric Schwarz, Co-Founder and CEO of Citizen Schools and Executive Chairman of US2020, shares how we can solve the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) crisis through innovative solutions like increasing the number of STEM professionals who mentor students.

"America, it's time to solve the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) crisis. Great scientists -- innovators like Edison, Einstein, and Rachel Carson -- think outside of the box. They look at the natural world in novel ways, opening new pathways forward for humanity. Why should our approach to STEM education be any different?" Read the opinion piece.

Why National Service Should Be a Social Obligation

Eric Schwarz is the Co-Founder and CEO of Citizen Schools. When General Stanley McChrystal recalled his first trip to Gettysburg as a child, he remembered learning an important lesson in citizenship-- national service is an American duty, or it should be. In his powerful call to service in a recent Wall Street Journal article, Gen. McChrystal proposes that national service should be an American rite of passage and that all Americans upon turning 18 should understand their options to serve. At Citizen Schools we've witnessed the incredible transformation that service through AmeriCorps can impart on our nation's future. We join him in answering this call.

saluteGeneral McChrystal's proposal would create one million full-time civilian national service positions for Americans ages 18-28 through AmeriCorps and other nonprofit organizations. The urge to serve does exist.  "In 2011, there were nearly 600,000 applications to AmeriCorps- a program with only 80,000 positions," McChrystal said, "This gap represents democratic energy wasted and a generation of patriotism needlessly squandered." In order to create lasting change, we need to invest in and expand on this spirit of service.

At Citizen Schools we've seen the impact that supporting this generation's passion for service can have on our country's future. The Citizen Schools National Teaching Fellowship, one of many AmeriCorps opportunities, deploys young patriots into urban classrooms for two years-- adding time and resources to schools and teachers that are stretched too thin. They provide academic support, make college and career connections, and help students build critical skills to prepare them for the 21st century workplace.

This type of service works. Thanks to these AmeriCorps Teaching Fellows and hundreds of volunteers from corporations and organizations across the country, students have had 10-15 percentage point gains in math and English. They're graduating at a rate 20% higher than their matched peers. They're excited to become future engineers, doctors and computer programmers.

6074220798_14529da61b_oWith one million service positions open to young Americans, think of how quickly we could lower the drop-out rate, close the achievement and opportunity gaps for our students, and create lasting systemic change in education. But we need America to hear and answer the call to do it.

McChrystal said, "Universal national service would surely face obstacles. But America is too big, and our challenges too expansive, for small ideas. To help stem the high-school dropout crisis, to conserve rivers and parks, to prepare for and respond to disasters, to fight poverty and, perhaps most important, to instill in all Americans a sense of civic duty, the nation needs all its young people to serve."

McChrystal's article is particularly timely as we send our nation's recent college graduates off into the real world. At the Harvard University Commencement on May 30, Jon Murad, an NYPD officer and Harvard graduate, encouraged the class of 2013 to live up to the expectations of graduating from a prestigious institution-- but not to discount the honor of service. He urged the crowd to pursue the military, social work, Big Brothers, Big Sisters and Citizen Schools to make a real difference on our country.  "Success doesn't mean rising to the top. It means changing the world," he said.

As these bright individuals from universities across the nation consider what the future holds for them, they should feel prepared and obligated to answer the call to service. Join us in creating a new culture of service in America by joining AmeriCorps or signing up to volunteer. 

 

T.H.E. Journal: White House, Organizations Band To Pursue a Million STEM Volunteers by 2020

T.H.E. Journal April 23, 2013

White House, Organizations Band To Pursue a Million STEM Volunteers by 2020

This article features the launch of the initiative US2020 that was launched at the 3rd annual White House Science Fair, April 22nd. Citizen Schools is mentioned as the nonprofit that will incubate the initiative and Eric Schwarz, Citizen Schools' Co-Founder and CEO of Citizen Schools and Executive Chairman of US2020 is quoted on the importance of this new initiative.

"In the United States, millions of scientists and technology experts have the ability to inspire students who need their support most; this effort will make it possible for them to enable these moments of discovery," said Schwarz. "Through hands-on projects and academic coaching, US2020 will give students a chance to connect with successful STEM professionals, providing a level of engagement that can change the trajectory of STEM education in the United States."

Read more.

Forbes: We Need All Hands on Deck for Science Education

Forbes April 22, 2013

We Need All Hands on Deck for Science Education

Eric Schwarz, Co-Founder and CEO of Citizen Schools and Executive Chairman of the new initiative US2020, co-authored an opinion piece, "We Need All Hands on Deck for Science Education," with Sanjay Mehrotra, Co-Founder, President, and CEO of SanDisk, a Founding Leadership Partner of US2020. The article speaks to importance of connecting students with science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) professionals to help change the trajectory of STEM education in America and how US2020 will work towards addressing that need. Read the opinion piece.

Expanding Learning Time Gains Momentum

Eric Schwarz is the CEO and Co-Founder of Citizen Schools.

On Wednesday, January 16, education was top of mind in Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick's State of the State address--highlighting the incredible turnaround success at the Orchard Gardens K-8 Pilot School. From Boston, to Chicago, to Santa Fe, to New York (where Governor Andrew Cuomo recently announced a new expanded learning time [ELT] initiative in his State of the State address) the country is increasingly focused on ELT as a strategy to improve learning and drive change in education.

This could be great or not so great.

One one hand, ELT could just be more of the same practices that aren’t working. Adding more time but using it unwisely could potentially soak up the few available “extra” dollars in education to pay tired teachers to work additional hours at the end of an already challenging day.

On the other hand, ELT could be what we see at the best Citizen Schools partnership sites:  a driver of big academic and enrichment gains and a new platform to advance other important goals — like blended learning and parent and community engagement.

As ELT gains momentum across the country, I am reminded of these three articles which reflect our vision to help tip the balance toward the second of these two visions coming true:

1. Schools Need a Second Shift, The Boston Globe

“Expanded learning time can be brought to scale in Boston without requiring Boston teachers to work beyond their current 6 or 6.5 hour work day. The better and more affordable solution is to mobilize a second shift of young educators who are fresh in the afternoon, don’t have to worry about grading papers, and aren’t pressed for time with family obligations.”

(NOTE: when someone says teachers "work" six or seven hours they are referring to the official "on the clock" schedule when students are also in the building, and are not including additional hours grading and giving feedback on student work, planning lessons, collaborating with colleagues, buying supplies, etc)

2. Expanded Learning Time to Narrow the Achievement Gap, Education Week

“Participants in the {ELT} summit described three core arguments for expanded learning time. First, they said, ELT offers more time for academic practice—a no-shortcuts strategy for improving academic performance. Second, it offers the opportunity to provide a more well-rounded education, with opportunities for adding arts and sports, college exploration, and project-based apprenticeships taught by professionals. Third, we heard from a number of participants, including Massachusetts Secretary of Education S. Paul Reville and author Frederick M. Hess, that ELT can serve as an R&D lab for new learning and teaching models that can lead to what Reville called ‘a new delivery model for education.’”

3. Expanded Learning Time as an Avenue to Change, Education Week

“Proponents of ELT hope that educators can tap the additional time needed to help drive student achievement while doing far more to inspire and engage students. They hold out the promise of doing so both within and outside brick-and-mortar school buildings and beyond the traditional 8:00 a.m.-to-2:30 p.m. school day. A recent research report, commissioned by the Wallace Foundation, suggests that ELT can make a difference for student achievement, but only if done thoughtfully and well.”

In recent news, Citizen Schools New York Executive Director Nitzan Pelman had the exciting opportunity to continue the conversation on ELT in two articles further explaining the Citizen Schools vision:

  1. How to Lengthen the School Day Without Breaking the Bank,” New York Daily News
  2. On Longer School Day: ‘Second Shift’ Works Best,” SchoolBook

I hope you enjoy these articles and are inspired to learn more about the importance of ELT as a transformative strategy for increased student achievement.

Christian Science Monitor: Eric Schwarz and Citizen Schools give inner-city kids a leg up

Christian Science Monitor Eric Schwarz and Citizen Schools give inner-city kids a leg up

January 11, 2012

Eric Schwarz, CEO and Co-founder of Citizen Schools, is featured in the Christian Science Monitor as a "Difference Maker." The piece highlights the organization's progression over the last 18 years under Schwarz's leadership. Citizen Schools has seen success nationally including school and student improvement, a science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) initiative, and recent work with the White House to develop "a national model in which top Silicon Valley companies would encourage their employees to put 20 or more hours a year into volunteering with kids."

"I've seen the Citizen Schools project within some of our most challenged schools and really seen that program play a role in the turnaround of some of those schools," says Mitchell Chester, the Massachusetts commissioner of elementary and secondary education. "I believe they played a substantial part in those turnarounds."

Read more.

Reflections from 2012

Eric Schwarz is the Co-Founder and CEO of Citizen Schools. 2012 began with numerous trips to Chicago, where I visited a school across the street from the United Center (where the Bulls play), took the El, had several cold (and yes "Windy") walks down Michigan Avenue, and got to know a great Italian restaurant at O’Hare airport. The year also saw an increased Citizen Schools focus on STEM education (science, technology, engineering and math), cool partnerships with the White House on several STEM projects, the addition of new corporate partners and board members, and some impressive impact results.

It’s been an exciting year with lots to celebrate, so as we enter this holiday season I want to say thank you to everyone who makes Citizen Schools such a special place, and such a force for expanded opportunity.

1. Launches.

All of those trips to Chicago led to the Citizen Schools expansion to Illinois where we now provide programming at two partner schools-- one in the Back of the Yards neighborhood, and one in Pilsen/Little Village. Chicago organizations such as A Better Chicago, AOL, MB Financial, Deloitte, Google, Cognizant, Cisco and United Airlines embraced our mission, stepping out of the office and into the classroom to impact public education.

Continuing down that road of new beginnings, in October we launched a bold three-year initiative called Catalyst, which will mobilize 7,500 professionals in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields to lead apprenticeships in middle schools across the country. With support from partners Google, Cognizant and the Carnegie Corporation of New York, thousands of students will be able to experience a catalyst moment– that spark of discovery that ignites a lasting passion for learning. As the need for improvement in STEM education becomes increasingly apparent, Citizen Schools is at the forefront of impacting systemic change, working closely with the White House to replicate our Citizen Teacher and Teaching Fellow models.

2. Partnerships.

This fall we welcomed a new National Leadership Partner, the Walmart Foundation. Their investment will help us reach even more students and boost achievement in reading and math over the next two years. Walmart has a deep commitment to improving education in America, donating more than $50 million to fund education initiatives in 2011.

In November, Citizen Schools was recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a top applicant in the Investing in Innovation (i3) Competition. This recognition speaks to the growing belief in our ELT model and demonstrates the powerful impact of private-public partnerships on education. Pending a 15% match from the private sector this $3 million grant will jump start momentum for the Catalyst Initiative.

This year we also witnessed the power of partnership in school districts–expanding our program to six new partner schools across the country. This growth speaks to the leadership of our partner districts and the commitment to our joint goal to close the opportunity and achievement gaps faced by our nation’s students. We also had the immense pleasure of welcoming Steven Schwartz of Cognizant and Peter Gorman of Amplify (and the former superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools) to our national Board of Directors.

3. Evidence of Impact. 

This fall Citizen Schools released impressive results from the first two years of a three year Expanded Learning Time pilot. Schools that were previously low-performing, experienced significant growth under the ELT model. With an average proficiency gain in English language arts and math of 10.4 percentage points over the past two years, Citizen Schools is a proven model of turnaround success according to U.S. Department of Education standards.

We could never have built lasting partnerships, sparked big ideas or achieved this amazing success without the support from our staff, volunteers, funders, families, school districts, school partners and most importantly our amazing students. Despite challenges both large and small and a few forks in the road, it has been a remarkable year in Citizen Schools history.

Thank you for your continued belief that we can change public education America. Here's hoping for an even better 2013.