October 4, 2011

Mayor Emanuel Announces IBM Grant to Reinvigorate Chicago's K-12 Schools and City Colleges, Help Increase Student Readiness for 21st Century Jobs

New educational programs to be better aligned with today's market; implemented in five Chicago high schools during 2012 school year

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

Mayor Rahm Emanuel today announced that Chicago has won a highly competitive grant from IBM that will help raise Chicago's high school and community college graduation rates and better prepare graduates to enter the 21st century work force.  The grant will allow Chicago to prepare a business plan that will personalize education for students, allowing them to build necessary skill sets and put them at the front of the line for quality, high-paying jobs upon graduation.

“Our public schools and community colleges must prepare our young people for the jobs of the future,” said Mayor Emanuel. “This grant from IBM will help us match the education we provide our students with the needs and goals of a 21st century economy and will ensure that Chicago’s workforce continues to lead the world.”

Starting October 15, IBM will dispatch a team of technology consultants to Chicago for a three-month period funded by an IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grant. The team will work with educators and city leaders to evaluate ways Chicago can better align its educational system with the needs of knowledge workers in the private sector, as well as enhance and integrate the high school and community college experiences. The program would be designed for implementation in five Chicago high schools by 2012. 

"Mayor Emanuel is demonstrating real innovative leadership here, by working closely with business and education leaders to catapult Chicago’s educational system to the forefront, along with some of the world's most progressive cities," said Stanley S. Litow, vice president of IBM's Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs and president of the IBM Foundation.  "IBM is proud to bring the most forward thinking educational and business models to Chicago and expand career opportunities for the city’s young adults."

The Smarter Cities Challenge grant will enable IBM to collaborate closely with the Mayor's office, Chicago Public School leaders, Chicago City Colleges, city departments, civic groups and the private sector.  Through these consultations and analysis, the team will work with Chicago educators and City leaders to create a strategic, step-by-step operational plan to create an educational system that more effectively ties to Chicago’s economic future.  Among those plans will be the incorporation of the concept of the grade 9 through 14 school.   IBM's work in Chicago will be informed by the company's experience with similar, bold educational initiatives it has helped shape in other challenging cities and educational systems. 

IBM's $50 million national grant program provides expert IBM advice to 100 progressive cities worldwide to help improve city services and quality of life.  More information on IBM’s Smarter Cities Challenge grant program can be found at http://smartercitieschallenge.org/.


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