Breakthrough Schools Chicago Commits $4 Million to Expand Next-Gen Learning in Chicago

LEAP Innovations announced today that 16 Chicago Public Schools (CPS) will join seven schools previously selected in 2014 to be eligible for $4 million in philanthropic funding and professional development to create next-generation, personalized learning schools. The schools are located throughout the city and are a mix of traditional, magnet, selective enrollment, alternative and charter elementary and high schools. (Learn more about our schools here.) Each will undergo a complete transformation led by their principal and key teachers to create sustainable, 21st century school models that personalize instruction to meet each student’s needs, goals and learning styles.

“Breakthrough Schools Chicago reaches public schools all across our city to prepare our kids to succeed with 21st century skills,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “These educators are leading the way forward, paving a path for how our schools can thrive in the future.”

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LEAP Welcomes Allan Golston from the Gates Foundation

Last week, Allan Golston, president of the United States Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, visited Chicago to see next-generation learning in action! After spending some time with the phenomenal students and educators at CICS West Belden, an innovative elementary school on Chicago's west side, Golston met with LEAP leadership and staff at our offices at 1871. A special thank you to West Belden for hosting, and to the Gates Foundation for their continued support!

Next-Gen Learning at Chavez!

LEAP Innovations is proud to help Chicago set the bar nationally for education innovation to transform teaching and learning. Our Breakthrough Schools Chicago initiative is part of an elite national group called the Next-Generation Learning Challenges Regional Funds. Our program provides grants and training to principals and teachers from neighborhood, magnet, selective, charter, turnaround, and alternative elementary and high schools across Chicago who are changing how classrooms look, teachers teach, and students engage in education by doing things such as:

  • Providing students access to differentiated content, from remediation to acceleration, through multi-age classrooms, flexible and dynamic groupings, and competency-based approaches
  • Enabling educators to engage in more 1:1 mentoring, small group instruction, and other activities that boost their effectiveness and satisfaction
  • Creating flexible classrooms with co-teaching and adaptive technologies students leverage through playlists
  • Building learner profiles that focus on academic and non-academic outcomes, allowing students, teachers, and families to map out a future for success

Recently, a group of innovative educators from the NGLC Washington, DC, region, which is led by the Citybridge Foundation, came to Chicago to learn about personalized learning. Follow the break for an article about their visit to one of Chicago's Breakthrough Schools, Chavez Elementary, in the Back of the Yards neighborhood.

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Match Day 2015 Survey

Thanks to our school teams and company reps who came out to Match Day this weekend! Please take a moment to complete our Match Day survey on your experience. Select the appropriate link below. 

Companies: Take Survey

Schools: Take Survey

Ready to Try a New Edtech Tool?

We're excited to report that LEAP's Literacy Tech Challenge, our first round of full-year pilots, is well underway. We're working with 19 teams across 15 Chicago schools to pilot six ELA edtech products - whew! Check back often for updates - we can't wait to share our results! 

In the meantime, check out our 5 Point Pilot Readiness Checklist. If you're considering trying a new product yourself, answering our five simple questions can help you decide what to work on before getting started, or if you're ready to go! 

Interested in piloting with LEAP this spring? We're getting ready to start recruitment for our next round. Fill out the interest form here, and we'll get back to you with details as soon as they're available. 

Mayor Rahm Emanuel Introduces LEAP Innovations!

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett introduced LEAP Innovations in a big way. At our kick-off luncheon, we heard from the civic, education, and philanthropic leaders from across the city who have helped launch the initiative, including our board chair, Mark Furlong from BMO Harris Bank, and Leo Melamed of CME Group. We also met one special student who reminded us what it’s really all about. Thanks for joining us, Juvon!

Our keynote speaker, co-founder and CEO of GSV Capital Michael Moe, braved some nasty Chicago weather and a car ride from Milwaukee just to be there. (Thank you, Michael!) He shared his vision for the next American Revolution, one in which education innovation transforms learning and revitalizes our economy. Check out his presentation here.

Special thanks to Motorola Mobility for hosting us, and to all of our funders and board members for their support. 

Education: The Next Great American Innovation


Throughout history, Chicago has been home to great innovators and their big ideas, from the first skyscraper to the world's first futures exchange. Here at LEAP Innovations, we think education can be the next great American innovation - and we think Chicago is just the place to do it. 

Check out our video to learn more about LEAP and our vision. Want to join us? Get in touch with us here.

LEAP Innovations and Breakthrough Schools Featured in the Chicago Tribune

This April, seven Chicago schools, four district and three charter, were awarded grants of up to $100,000 – and made the front page of the Chicago Tribune!

These grants completed the first cohort of Breakthrough Schools: Chicago, a regional pilot of the national Next Generation Learning Challenges program. LEAP Innovations led the Chicago pilot, with support from the Broad Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Chicago Public Education Fund. Read more about it here!