"Nothing is more important to the future of our City than having a public school system that gives every student a chance to reach their full potential and that graduates students who have a strong foundation on which to build solid careers and happy lives," Daley said in a news conference held at Reavis Elementary School, 834 E. 50th St., which is one of the "Elev8 Chicago" locations.
"To take our schools -- and our city -- to the next level of achievement and progress, we must demand even more from ourselves. That’s what we’re doing with a program such as "Elevate Chicago," he said.
The program is a partnership that includes the City, Chicago Public Schools, Local Initiatives Support Corporation, Atlantic Philanthropies, the MacArthur Foundation, community-based health care providers and a range of other organizations.
Its goal is to transform the educational achievement and life outcomes of disadvantaged students in the five schools by supporting academic learning, good health and parental involvement.
The program has established an on-site health center at each participating school and has helped to extend the school building’s weekday and weekend hours to establish it as a critical community anchor providing a variety of support services to families.
"We know that there is a critical connection between education and health. If a child is hungry or tired or chronically ill, how can we expect them to perform well in school?" Daley said.
The Mayor said many educators say that academic success is a good indicator for the overall well-being of young person and that schools need to make sure health is part of every student’s learning environment.
To improve both academic achievement and the quality of life of the young people in its schools and prepare them to make the difficult choices that come with adolescence, the partners in "Elev8 Chicago" have joined together to:
Daley said that CPS’ Community Schools Initiative – which is currently established at 150 schools – shows education can=t be confined to the traditional school day, and it has to involve parents and guardians.
"Elevate Chicago is very much a part of the Community Schools Initiative idea, which turns neighborhood schools into community learning centers with greatly expanded weekday and weekend hours to provide educational and social-service programs, not just for the students, but for the entire family," the mayor said.
"Elevate Chicago" has been built from the neighborhood level up. LISC searched within its New Communities Program, which operates in 16 Chicago neighborhoods, and established a lead agency in each neighborhood.
They worked with dozens of community partners to identify which schools would be selected, and each organization stressed the importance of parental and community involvement and has worked hard to engage parents and community members in the on-going execution of the plan.
Daley said that by the end of 2009, each school was offering extended programs to students, all five health centers are open and serving students and their families, the centers are providing parents with access to social services and financial coaching and parent engagement had increased dramatically at each school.
"It’s clear that what we are dong with "Elevate Chicago" is taking an approach to education that supports all the aspects of a student’s life – school work, health, parental involvement, social services support," the Mayor said.
"We are building a model of community schooling, showing what’s possible when schools become centers for community life," he said.
The Atlantic Philanthropies has committed to invest $18 million in "Elevate Chicago" and it is expected that this initial investment will leverage an additional $15.8 million in new or redirected support from local foundations, government agencies and the Chicago Public Schools.
Citywide partners in the program include: Chicago Public Schools, Hispanic Housing Development Corporation, Girls in the Game, After School Matters, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Chicago HealthCorp and Advocate Dental Services.
The five "Elev8 Chicago" locations are:
Ames Middle School, 1920 N. Hamlin Av.
Marquette Elementary School, 6550 S. Richmond St.
Orozco Academy. 1940 W. 18th St.
Perspectices-Calumet Middle School. 8131 S. May St.
Reavis Elementary School, 834 E. 50th St.