Skoll Foundation


Citizen Schools

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

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“Citizen Schools looks beyond the school walls and outside of the school day – and we see vast, untapped opportunity. We believe that outstanding after-school programs can shift the life trajectories of low-income, low-achieving students and propel them toward success in school, college attainment, career opportunities, and civic leadership.”

Sub-Issue: Early Childhood to Primary Education American students spend 80 percent of their waking hours out of school, but only a small percentage of public funding supports out-of-school programs.

The Skoll Awardee: 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 founded Citizen Schools to recruit, train, and support volunteers to work in public middle schools in low-income communities to assist with expanded work day apprenticeships, academic support and mentorship. Citizen Schools focuses on middle schools, a crucial period when many disadvantaged students begin to disengage from education. Programs include hands-on learning, discovery, teamwork, and fun – in school buildings, led by professional educators and staffed by volunteer Citizen Teachers. At the time of the Award, Citizen Schools had well established programs in in Massachusetts and California, and was planning to expand to 50 campuses within three years, in addition to conducting policy work to expand after-school programs nationwide.

Impact since joining the portfolio in 2005:

  • Now active in 14 school districts in seven states: California, Illinois, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, and Texas, expanding the learning day by 400 hours each academic year.
  • In the 2013-2014 academic year, served 4,900 students, engaged 240 AmeriCorps Teaching Fellows and 5,000 volunteer teachers.
  • Incubated US2020, a Clinton Foundation initiative that aims to engage 1 million STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering Math) professionals as mentors.
  • Through a three-year Extended Learning Time (ELT) initiative, met targets for increased student proficiency in participating schools. Now expanding the initiative to increase proficiency throughout the network of partner schools.

© 2015 Skoll Foundation.