Skoll Foundation


Citizen Schools

Skoll Awardee(s): Eric Schwarz
Award Year: 2005
Issue Area(s) Addressed: Education

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Eric Schwarz’s professional experience as a fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and a manager at City Year focused his attention on the crisis in public education in the U.S. He recognized that American students spend 80% of their waking hours outside of school and yet only 2% of public funding supports out-of-school programs. He founded Citizen Schools to transform after-school programs from an afterthought to a powerful element of authentic, large-scale education reform. The organization’s program for low-income middle school students includes hands-on learning, discovery, teamwork and fun — in school buildings, led by professional educators and staffed by volunteer Citizen Teachers. In Sept. 2014, Steven Maze Rothstein became Chief Executive Officer and Schwarz said he plans to pursue entrepreneurial opportunities in the higher education area and will stay engaged with Citizen Schools as an adviser.

Impact since joining the portfolio in 2005:

  • On Sept. 2, 2014, Eric released his bookThe Opportunity Equation: How Citizen Teachers are Combating the Achievement Gap in America’s Schools, which he calls a “call to action to citizens across the country to get active in addressing our nation’s growing opportunity and achievement gaps” and tells his and Citizen Schools’ story.
  •  In the 2013-2014 academic year, the nonprofit served over 4,900 students and engaged 240 AmeriCorps Teaching Fellows and over 5,000 volunteer teachers.
  • By Oct. 2014, Citizen Schools had partnered with underserved public middle schools across 14 school districts in seven states to dramatically expand the learning day by 400 hours each academic year.Twenty-two of those schools are participating in year three of the organization’s national ELT initiative.
  • In 2013 at CGI America, President Clinton announced that US2020, a new initiative that aims to engage one million science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) professionals by the year 2020, will launch a city competition to increase the amount of STEM mentoring in communities nationally. US2020 will be incubated within Citizen Schools, and will become a standalone non-profit entity in 2014.
  • In late 2012, they announced the results of the organization’s second year of a three-year national expanded learning time (ELT) pilot initiative. Before ELT, Citizen Schools’ partner schools made no or minimal progress on building proficiency on state tests. The U.S. Department of Education standard for successful school turnaround is an increase of 10 percentage points in proficiency within three years.  The Citizen Schools’ ELT cumulative gain in proficiency over years 1 and 2 of the ELT initiative is 10.4 percentage points, meeting the standard for successful school turnaround in just two years.
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© 2015 Skoll Foundation.