Northwestern Academy to Expand Access for Chicago Public Schools Students to Top Colleges

Northwestern Academy to Expand Access for Chicago Public Schools Students to Top Colleges

NU Academy for CPS

Northwestern Academy for Chicago Public Schools will provide free support and college counseling to prepare CPS students for academic success 

Northwestern University and the City of Chicago today announced a new program to help Chicago Public School (CPS) students prepare for and gain admittance to selective colleges and universities. The Northwestern Academy is designed to help CPS high school students who are academically talented and qualify for the free or reduced lunch program with supplemental educational opportunities and support services to prepare them for highly selective colleges and universities.

“We are grateful to Northwestern University for leveraging its world-class academic resources to expose our students to rigorous learning opportunities that will prepare them for success inside and outside of the classroom,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said. “Northwestern Academy is an example of how an innovative partnership between one of the country’s top universities and CPS can expand access to high-quality education options and open the door to unique learning opportunities and experiences for our students. This program will also serve as another valuable tool to help CPS reach its goal for every student to be 100 percent college ready and college bound.”

The Academy will target students who qualified for but are not enrolled in a CPS selective enrollment school and are also enrolled in the free or reduced lunch program, a pool of about 1,250 students. A group of qualified students will be invited to apply, from which 50 CPS 9th-grader finalists will be identified annually.

“Northwestern is deeply committed to supporting Chicago Public School students and providing opportunities for a world-class education that will prepare these students for college and careers,” said Northwestern President Morton Schapiro. “Our involvement with Chicago schools is strong, far-reaching and growing.”

The Academy will provide academic year and summer classes through Northwestern’s Center for Talent Development, tutoring in academic skills, college counseling, test preparation, support from mentors and family workshops. Additionally, the Academy will design and initiate academic year programs focused on exposing CPS students to departments and faculty at Northwestern.

Recruitment for the first group of 50 prospective students in the 9th grade is under way, and selected students will be invited to apply this winter for the four-year program. Academic enrichment and advising for talented students will begin next April and will continue through the summer. Eventually, 200 students in grades 9-12 will be part of the Academy, which will cost an estimated $5,000 to $6,000 per student per year to operate and will be funded through donations. The program will be free for students who attend.

The Academy will cultivate relationships with CPS K-8 schools to facilitate student nomination and high schools for on-site support for grades 9-12. The Academy will be held in one or two selected locations in downtown Chicago. The CTD summer programs will be held at Northwestern.

“The Northwestern Academy will provide programs and services designed to increase academic preparedness for college study,” said Northwestern School of Education and Social Policy Dean Penelope L. Peterson. “It will also enhance the development of social skills that support high academic achievement, cultivate peer support and enable talented, low- and middle-income CPS high school students to envision a future at selective institutions of higher education.”

“We believe that providing advanced coursework in mathematics, writing and other subjects, as well as other support through high school, will increase the likelihood that students will transition successfully to selective colleges and universities,” Peterson said.

This month, eligible students will be invited by Northwestern to apply in February. Interviews and the selection process will take place February through March, and the program will start in April.

Questions may be directed for now to the email address Students invited to apply eventually will be able to download paper applications online or fill one out online.

Sacks Gift to Aid CPS Grads to Attend Northwestern
To assist CPS students who choose to attend Northwestern, Cari and Michael Sacks, a Northwestern trustee and vice chairman of World Business Chicago, have made a $5 million gift to Northwestern, $3.6 million of which is dedicated to endowing scholarships for CPS graduates to attend the University. The gift will create and endow the Sacks Family Scholarship Fund.

The scholarships, for qualifying CPS graduates who attend Northwestern, will be used to provide additional scholarship funds and eliminate loans in the financial aid packages for those students. By eliminating the loan component of their financial aid packages, students will not be faced with paying off those loans as soon as they graduate.

“We’re very pleased to provide this financial support for CPS graduates who will attend Northwestern,” Sacks said. “Providing strong financial assistance is critical in creating the opportunity for CPS students to attend the University, and we hope this gift will enable more students to do so.”

Other Northwestern University Academic Partnerships With CPS
The new Northwestern Academy is an expansion of the University’s longstanding academic partnerships with CPS. Northwestern in recent years has directly or indirectly impacted the education of some 30,000 CPS students, by one estimate.

This new expansion of academic programs with CPS students and teachers is being led by the University’s School of Education and Social Policy through its Center for Talent Development (CTD). An accredited learning center and research facility, CTD ( has been serving gifted students, their families and educators for 30 years. Programs include online learning, Saturday enrichment, summer programs, weekend experiences and civic education. Each year 10,375 students from pre-K through high school enroll in CTD courses and offerings.

The Northwestern Academy program joins a wide variety of initiatives and partnerships that the University and the city have spent years developing together, including:

  • Programs run by individual Northwestern schools. (See related Fact Sheet.)
  • Research by professors that benefits Chicago Public Schools.
  • Faculty and student volunteer activities with city schools.
  • A large number of ongoing and new programs by various departments, offices and institutes.

Among these initiatives are programs run by SESP’s Office of STEM Education Partnerships (OSEP), which date back to 2006. OSEP staffers work closely with the Mayor’s office and facilitate a wide range of partnerships with CPS schools. These include support for strategic planning and implementation of five new Early College STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Schools and a partnership with the U.S. Navy.

Good Neighbor, Great University Program
The new Academy also builds on Northwestern’s Good Neighbor, Great University program, which helps motivate CPS and Evanston students to pursue college and provides scholarships if they elect to come to Northwestern. In the 2012-13 academic year, 178 students received scholarships under the Good Neighbor, Great University program. That number has grown from 35 students in 2010-11, the first year of the program.

Since 2009, when Northwestern started waiving the application fees for qualifying CPS graduates as part of the Good Neighbor, Great University program, more than 300 CPS students have enrolled. During that time, approximately $303,000 in application fees has been waived for Chicago students.

That program also provides special financial aid packages for qualifying low- and middle-income students from Chicago who enroll at Northwestern, eliminating requirements to do work-study, take out student loans and engage in summer earning jobs. In 2012-13, Northwestern provided some $9.72 million in financial aid for students who live in Chicago. This included $1.2 million for the 178 students who received a Good Neighbor, Great University scholarship.

By Storer H. Rowley, Northwestern News
Last Modified: 12/3/13