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We’re always asking: What’s next for our school leaders and students? Since 2000, we have piloted efforts with the potential to teach all of us something new about school leadership, student learning and teacher development.

Our pilot programs focus on building capacity in our highest-need schools, harnessing the expertise of Chicago’s top leaders, teaching us about providing strong instruction for our youngest students and preparing the principals of tomorrow.


In-Role Supports

South Side Education Alliance (SSEA)

Program Objective: Improvement

The South Side Education Alliance (SSEA) aims to coordinate layered supports to enable accelerated school improvement in CPS Networks 9 and 12. SSEA delivers multiple supports in a single package, including instructional leadership, trauma-informed practice, family and community engagement, time management and teacher development.

In August 2018, we launched the pilot in collaboration with four program providers. These partners provide supports that align with principal, teacher, student and community needs in several Bronzeville/South Lakefront and Greater Stony Island schools. We believe providing these schools with multiple, layered supports will both accelerate improvement and create a more significant impact than is possible with each program provider operating independently.

In 2019-20, the Fund is working with the following program providers in eight schools.

  • Fulcrum Education Solutions is a team of former principals that provides customized coaching and support focused on developing strong instructional leadership through the use of instructional systems and building the capacity of the school’s various instructional leaders.
  • National SAM Innovation Project is a team of former principals that provides a unique set of time management tools and regular coaching to support principals to maximize their instructional leadership capacity and more effectively distribute leadership.
  • Stand for Children is a team focused on fighting for educational equity. They do this by partnering with parents to support their children’s education journey and encouraging them to become strong advocates through family engagement supports to schools and communities.
  • Turnaround for Children is a team of former educators that facilitates a professional learning series for school leaders around the science of learning and the impact of trauma to equip leaders with strategies and practices to build effective systems that support healthy student development and academic achievement for all children.

Launching the South Side Education Alliance is our first step toward an ambitious, multi-year effort to support educators to achieve outstanding outcomes for students.


Executive Principal

Program Objective: Improvement

The Executive Principal Program, funded by the Schwartz-Ward Family Foundation and operated in partnership with the Department of Principal Quality at Chicago Public Schools (CPS), is an innovative, multi-year mentorship between some of Chicago’s top leaders (Executive Principals) and rising stars (Partner Principals).

Partner and Executive Principals are thoughtfully matched based on their strength areas and the Partner Principals’ aspirations for their schools. Throughout the school year, Executive Principals provide up to 300 hours of coaching and mentoring, including weekly school visits and observations, collaborative planning time and joint attendance at professional development events. Participants take part in a Professional Learning Community with Chief Education Officer LaTanya McDade. Each pair receives a joint stipend for innovative professional development for new work at the Partner Principal’s school. Executive Principals are also awarded a leadership stipend for their service.

Executive Principals collaborate closely with Partner Principals’ supervisors to support their overall development plan and to share performance feedback. The 2019-20 cohort includes seven principal pairs from across the city.


Opportunity Schools’ Principal Professional Learning Community (PLC)

Program Objective: Improvement

Opportunity Schools are some of Chicago’s hardest-to-staff schools. The Fund partners with CPS to help principals in these schools develop strong hiring and teacher retention strategies.

The principals participate in a professional learning community (PLC) led by TNTP, a nonprofit organization dedicated to developing teacher leadership. Principals attend six PLC sessions, during which they identify their top teachers, develop strategies to retain them and learn concrete skills to help teachers grow their practice.

This pilot program launched in 2018 and will carry through the 2019-20 school year. The 2019-20 cohort includes 49 principals from across the city.


Building Early Learning Leaders (BELL)

Program Objective: Improvement

By 2023, every district-run elementary school will include free pre-kindergarten for all of Chicago’s 4-year-olds, which will make principals key leaders in the early learning space. As such, The Fund is partnering with CPS’ Office of Early Childhood Education (OECE) and nonprofit help inform the roll-out and support on-the-ground implementation of universal Pre-K.

As part of the pilot, VOCEL will develop a diagnostic tool and provide job-embedded coaching to a small cohort of schools.

The 2019-20 cohort includes eight principals.


Tegy, Inc.

Program Objective: Improvement

Principals can drive change in their schools through transformational scheduling. Over the past several years, The Fund has partnered actively with Tegy, Inc. (formerly Sensible Innovation) to teach school teams how to create and use blocks of time to strategically serve their students. Whether schools bolster teacher collaboration time, create intervention periods to differentiate instruction or build advisory blocks to focus on student wellness, Tegy helps schools live their missions and spend their most important currency – time – where it counts the most.

To date, more than 100 Chicago schools have been trained by Tegy.

Over the 2018-19 school year, The Fund partnered with 13 schools in CPS’ Network 6 to deliver Tegy’s model.


Pipeline and Principal Preparation

APs Rising

Program Objective: Talent

Assistant principals (APs) are not only critical leaders in our schools, but also the primary pipeline of leadership talent into the principal role. In 2019, The Chicago Principal Partnership (The Partnership) and partners at Chicago Public Schools, including the Department of Principal Quality, launched Lead with CPS, a new framework for leadership development from teacher to senior district leader.

As a result, CPS, The Fund and The Partnership created APs Rising, a suite of targeted development opportunities designed to support Chicago’s talented pool of assistant principals who are interested in future principal roles within the district. APs Rising includes the following programs:

  • Leadership Bridge Program for AP and Principal Pairs | APs receive individualized coaching from school leadership experts New Leaders, UIC and Accelerate Institute. in close collaboration with their principals.  16 pairs are participating in the 2019-20 school year.
  • Aspiring Principal Professional Learning Community | APs participate in six learning sessions focused on preparing for the principal role, led by an experienced CPS principal. 49 APs are participating in the 2019-20 school year.
  • AP Resident Principal Program | APs complete a 12 to 18-month hands-on residency to prepare them to be principals in the types of schools that need talent the most. Two APs are participating in the 2019-20 school year.

APs Rising is made possible through the generous support of Crown Family Philanthropies and The Crown Pipeline Innovation Fund.

Invest in Chicago's Principals

Principals have an out-sized impact on their schools and communities. Any amount can make a difference.

Support Our Work

We aim to serve more than 600 principals and 360,000 students by 2023, with an emphasis on the schools that most need support.

Celebrate School Leaders

This October, school communities, city officials and corporate leaders will join together to lift up the great work of principals and their APs.