• Awarded: 2005
  • Issue Areas: Early Childhood to Primary Education · Education
  • Region: North America
  • Web:
  • About the Organization

    Citizen Schools partners with public middle schools in low-income communities to provide an expanded learning day rich with opportunities. Passionate AmeriCorps members, educators, and volunteers fill afternoons with inspiring learning experiences, turning students into young scientists, architects, lawyers, business owners, and future leaders.

    There is a critical opportunity gap in education. Students in upper-income families spend 300 more hours each year with adults than do the three million students in lower-income families. Upper-income students also benefit from almost US$8,000 worth of enrichment activities yearly – robotics camp, piano lessons, academic tutoring, and more.

    Together with their partners, Citizen Schools is closing the gaps between schools and their potential, and between students and a successful future. In the 2013-2014 academic year they served approximately 5,300 students, engage 4,700 volunteers, and partnered with 32 public middle schools.

    Every student has the potential to succeed, but they can’t do it alone. When people work together, amazing things can happen – students reach their potential, volunteers make a difference, and schools and communities re-imagine what’s possible.

    American students spend 80 percent of their waking hours out of school, but only a small percentage of public funding supports out-of-school programs.

    Citizen Schools trains and supports volunteers to provide support and mentorship in middle schools in low-income communities.

    CS promotes hands-on learning, discovery, teamwork, and fun – in school buildings, led by professional educators and volunteer Citizen Teachers.

    CS serves 5,000 students each year in seven states.

    Ambition for Change

    After-school programs become a powerful element of education reform. Students graduate from high school, ready for college or the workforce. They are prepared, inspired, and supported.

    Path to Scale

    Partnerships with new schools at a rate of five to six schools (2,000-3,000 students) each year.

    Business Model

    Program support from school district budgets supplemented by philanthropic support for central functions (program design and administration, new program development, evaluation, etc.). Reliance on volunteers and AmeriCorps Fellows to maintain cost efficiency.

    A product of inner city schools in Denver, J.B. Schramm saw many of his peers not going on to college, even though colleges were eager to enroll students from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. Seeking to bridge this gap, J.B. became the director of a teen center in Washington, D.C. In 1993, he piloted the College Summit program, bringing four students to a college campus to identify where they might apply and complete their applications and essays with the guidance of college counselors. . Over the next few years he expanded on the idea, recruiting volunteer writing coaches and holding summer workshops for 140 students. 75 percent were accepted to colleges, giving J.B. the evidence he needed to found College Summit, Inc. The organization works to instill a college-going culture, provides data, and helps students build relationships with colleges and manage the application process. CS trains high school teachers to be college application managers and provides schools with a comprehensive curriculum and online tracking system to monitor student participation. Each school selects peer leaders from the junior class to participate in a four-day workshop at a college campus. Then, as veterans of the college application process, they inspire their peers to apply. CS also provides a comprehensive portfolio of “better than their numbers” college applicants to its partner colleges. At the time of the Award, CS had grown to serve about 5,000 students each year.

    Impact & Accomplishments

    • Now active in 14 school districts in seven states: California, Illinois, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, and Texas, expanding the learning day by 400 hours each academic year.
    • In the 2013-2014 academic year, served 4,900 students, engaged 240 AmeriCorps Teaching Fellows and 5,000 volunteer teachers.
    • Incubated US2020, a Clinton Foundation initiative that aims to engage 1 million STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering Math) professionals as mentors.
    • Through a three-year Extended Learning Time (ELT) initiative, met targets for increased student proficiency in participating schools. Now expanding the initiative to increase proficiency throughout the network of partner schools.

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