Chicago Charter School Network Receives $1 Million Grant on Oprah
LEARN Charter School Network got more than just a moment in the national spotlight while on today's episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show"—the school also received a $1 million grant from Oprah's Angel Network. One of six schools featured for "getting it right" during today's show about the United States' educational system—and the only one in the Midwest to receive a million‐dollar grant—LEARN, a four‐campus public charter school network currently serving nearly 1,400 low‐income students in Chicago's South‐ and West‐side communities, will use the money to help open additional schools toward its goal of serving more than 8,000 students by 2019. LEARN is among the more than 3,500 public charter schools in the U.S.
"We call ourselves a high performing, 'college prep elementary school' because we believe the foundation for college begins early on," says Gregory White, president and CEO of LEARN. "We also believe that by setting high standards and providing that foundation for our students—most of whom come from lower income families and live in struggling communities—we prove that low income doesn't equal low achievement. We are honored that our model for expecting and producing excellence has attracted the attention of 'The Oprah Winfrey Show' and we're excited to use this grant to replicate it. We hope that sharing our experiences on such a broad level inspires others to do the same."
Longer school days, low student‐teacher ratios, intensive professional development resources for teachers, data‐driven, individualized instruction for each student, and above all, the non‐negotiable, universal belief among staff, parents and students that every child can and will graduate college are among the factors that help LEARN deliver results. On the 2010 Illinois Standards Achievement Test, 84 percent of LEARN students—93 percent of whom qualify for the federal free or reduced lunch program—met or exceeded state standards; 86 percent did so in math; 80 percent in reading, and 85 percent did so in science. Ninety‐nine percent of LEARN graduates graduate from high school; and 100 percent of its 2010 class was accepted to top Chicago‐area college prep high schools. According to alumni surveys, 83 percent of graduates have matriculated to four‐year colleges and universities while another 12 percent have gone on to two‐year colleges.