Chicago Public Schools’ new Five-Year Vision was crafted with input from partners across the city.

On Tuesday, March 26, Chicago Public Schools announced its Five-Year Vision for 2019–2024. Officially titled Success Starts Here, the vision provides a roadmap of priorities and initiatives our district will tackle over the next five years to continue building on the extraordinary progress Chicago Public Schools has made.

After the public release of Success Starts Here, The Children First Fund invited many of the district’s closest partners—businesses, philanthropic organizations, hospitals, cultural and higher-education institutions—to hear directly from CPS CEO Dr. Janice K. Jackson about how their continued partnership will help us execute on the tenets of Success Starts Here.

CPS CEO Dr. Janice K. Jackson outlined “Success Starts Here” at the event.

While the event itself featured a number of surprises, including CPS alumni speakers, graphic artists capturing the evening’s message in real time, and musical performances by CPS students, the Vision document itself, introduced and detailed by Dr. Jackson, was more than a little familiar to the majority of attendees.

A visual artist interpreted the event’s themes in real-time.

Indeed, most of our partners played a substantial role in shaping Success Starts Here. Back in December 2018, the Children First Fund hosted a partner forum, part of a nearly year-long listening tour, to ask CPS’s most-engaged supporters what priorities they wanted to see in the CPS Five-Year Vision.

CPS partners provided input for the Five-Year Vision at a CFF partner forum in December.

We received a wealth of valuable, actionable feedback from that event as well as from hundreds of principals and thousands of parents, teachers, students, and community members. But two themes in particular stuck out:

  1. Our partners want a more clearly defined role in their capacity to support CPS.
  2. Our partners want a better understanding of what CPS means by equity and how they can support it.

Success Starts Here addresses both of those issues directly. Throughout the Vision document, a number of initiatives are flagged with the CFF logo, indicating where partner support will play a crucial role in helping CPS reach its goals. Similarly, equity strategies are clarified in blue text throughout the document, demonstrating specifically how we will promote equity at every level throughout the district.

Throughout the Vision document, the CFF logo indicates opportunities for partner engagement.

The business and philanthropic communities have long played a crucial role in supporting Chicago Public Schools, sponsoring and spearheading initiatives that have provided some of the most successful programs in our district. Our partners have helped CPS introduce rigorous computer-science courses, allowing it to become the first district in the nation to have a computer-science graduation requirement. They have helped expand arts-education programs and access to social and emotional learning. They have created no-cut afterschool sports programs, work-readiness opportunities, STEM-learning field trips, and countless other vital programs that shape the CPS student experience.

Those programs are deeply meaningful to the students and schools who reap the benefits every day, but historically, the work our partners have done for CPS has not always been visible to the city, or even to the district at large. CPS had not done everything possible to identify and celebrate the contributions of our partners, and it had not provided a framework to ensure that all partnerships are aligned with our priorities for maximum impact.

That changes with Success Starts Here. The new district agenda has been developed with explicit input from our partners, and it is designed to encourage engagement from new partners of all kinds, from individuals to businesses and foundations and everything in between.

CPS listened to students, educators, parents, and community members to build the Five-Year Vision.

By providing our partners with unprecedented insight into our goals and planning, we will maximize the impact of our partners’ support and ensure a seamless experience for our partners.

And Success Starts Here is just the beginning. We welcome our partners to continue engaging with CPS leadership through a new event series called Visionary Voices, in which we will provide policy and initiative deep-dives and hear from partners directly about how we might collaborate to achieve our vision for students.

For these efforts and all partner-engagement, the Children First Fund will be a hub for information about CPS. We will help our partners understand exactly what CPS’s priorities are and where support is needed most.

Chicago is one of the most diverse, vibrant, and innovative cities in the world, and with your support and the support of our partners across the city, we’re unlocking all of its resources to support our students and schools. Thank you!