Skoll Foundation


Citizen Schools

Skoll Entrepreneur(s): Eric Schwarz
Award Year: 2005
Focus Area(s) Addressed: Education and Economic Opportunity

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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.


  • 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.
  • The program produces measurable success. While 33 percent of eighth-graders around the country say they are interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) careers, 80 percent of students who participate in a STEM apprenticeship through Citizen Schools say they are interested in STEM careers.
  • Citizen Schools’ network has grown from a one pilot site serving 63 students to a seven-state network with 37 sites serving 4,500 students. Over the next four years, Citizen Schools will partner with 20-25 schools that serve 10,000-12,500 students in 8-10 districts to adopt an Expanded Learning Time model.
  • Citizen Schools alumni attend 7 weeks more high school than their peers.
  • 9 out of 10 Citizen Schools alumni passed state exit exams in math and English.
  • In 2009, external evaluation results conducted by Policy Studies Associates demonstrated that Citizen Schools is effective in engaging at-risk middle-school students and building a bridge to high school. For the cohort of Citizen Schools students whose graduation status is available, 75% graduated from high school in 4 years, compared to 58% for the district overall.
  • In 2009, Citizen Schools played a large role in encouraging Congress to pass the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act. In addition, Citizen Schools worked closely with the office of the late Senator Kennedy on legislation introduced this past summer to expand the learning day and involve community partners in that effort.
  • Learn more:

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