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Chicago Public Schools to Invest Over A Half-Billion Dollars in Transformative Student Supports as Part of ‘Moving Forward Together’ Initiative

16 June 2021

Initiative Will Provide Academic and Social-Emotional Resources to Support CPS Students With a Focus on School Communities Hardest-Hit by the Pandemic; Initiative Provides Significant Flexibility to Adjust Plan Based on Need and Community Feedback

CPS Office of Communications

Phone: 773-553-1620
Website: www.cps.edu
Twitter: @chipubschools
Facebook: chicagopublicschools

CHICAGO — Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and Mayor Lori E.Lightfoot today announced Moving Forward Together — an unprecedented investment to address students’ social and emotional needs, accelerate student learning, and prepare students for success beyond the pandemic through a holistic, equity-based approach. A transformative initiative — funded by federal stimulus money — Moving Forward Together is a framework that provides over $525 Million in FY2022 and FY2023 as well as a framework for a multi-year iterative investment that allows for changes based on the needs of students and families. This unprecedented investment consists of flexible funding that schools can allocate to the programs and initiatives that meet the needs of their own school communities, as well as research-based supports that will be administered at the district level. Moving Forward Together empowers school leaders to engage with their communities and establish individual plans that leverage these funds and resources to best suit their needs.  

Approximately $267M will be devoted to Moving Forward Together initiatives as part of the FY22 budget which will be released this summer. In January 2022, CPS will conduct additional community engagement to help assess the impact of these resources. While the district has outlined a framework for a two-year plan, leadership, community and staff feedback will be used to determine if adjustments are needed for the second year of implementation, and an updated plan will be outlined next year.

To develop Moving Forward Together, CPS incorporated extensive feedback from school leaders, teachers, students, parents, and community partners regarding the supports needed to help students, staff and families during this unique and challenging time. This plan centers on what we have heard and provides local school communities the flexibility and resources they need to enact a local, responsive plan. Moving Forward Together is responsive to critical community feedback received as part of the February 2021 Budget Equity Forums. Key feedback included: 

  1. Prioritizing resources for communities most negatively impacted and harmed by the COVID-19 pandemic;

  2. Providing additional funding and support for robust Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) and mental health supports; and

  3. Empowering decision-making at the school level to meet the unique needs of school communities

To ensure communities have the support needed to develop their own plans for using these resources, we are hosting two virtual town halls. The district will provide an overview of the framework and will spend the weeks and months ahead supporting individual school town halls where each school community will discuss their unique plans and approach to utilizing these resources. Town halls will be held at the following dates and times:

  • Town Hall 1: Monday, June 28 (5:30 - 6:30 p.m.)

  • Town Hall 2 : Wednesday, June 30 (5:30 - 6:30 p.m.)

To register for either meeting, please visit bit.ly/MFTtownhall.

All town halls will offer simultaneous translation and American Sign Language. For individuals who wish to participate but not register, we will livestream the events on the CPS Facebook page

"Numbers and words truly cannot encapsulate the tremendous amount of trauma and loss that our children have experienced over the course of this pandemic," said Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. "Thanks to this unprecedented initiative, we will be able to make investments in their social, emotional, and educational healing—which is exactly what they need to recover and thrive. I look forward to implementing Moving Forward Together this summer and accelerating our mission to build the better and brighter future our children deserve."

“Unprecedented times call for unprecedented investments, and Moving Forward Together provides schools with the resources they need and deserve to shape their own multi-year plan to address the learning and social-emotional impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said CPS CEO Dr. Janice K. Jackson. “With communities of color disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, this initiative prioritizes resources for the hardest-hit communities and empowers each school community to determine how these supports will lift up their own students, staff and families.”

Moving Forward Together is intended to provide schools with the resources they need to address the unprecedented hardship, trauma and academic challenges our communities face. With attendance, enrollment and grades dropping — especially among Black and Latinx students who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic — Moving Forward Together outlines a comprehensive approach to supporting the whole child and building a brighter future for our students and communities. Funding for Moving Forward Together uses relief dollars CPS is receiving from the federal government to account for anticipated student needs, operational and capital needs to safely open during the pandemic, and substantial reductions in traditional sources of revenue. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused real trauma in our communities, and we must address the needs of the whole student, which is essential to ensuring their success in school and in life,” said LaTanya D. McDade, Chief Education Officer at Chicago Public Schools. “By pairing evidence-based resources with flexibility at the school level, we are committing to doing everything in our power to ensure every student has the support they need to succeed.” 

Providing All schools with Additional  Resources While Prioritizing Those Most in Need 

Moving Forward Together is a combination of flexible funding that schools can allocate to the programs and initiatives that meet the needs of their own school communities, as well as research-based supports provided by the district. Flexible  funding will allow schools to engage their communities and identify supports to best meet their needs, which could include support positions, supplemental programs, or tech resources. The district will be supporting school leaders to ensure they have what they need to effectively facilitate these discussions and identify the resources they need to lift up their school communities. This multi-year investment will be evaluated annually to assess needs and make adjustments in year two.  

Resources build on previous staffing commitments, including the district’s commitment to provide a nurse and social worker in every school by the 2023-24 school year. Moving Forward Together is broken into three distinct areas of support: 

  • $160 Million in flexible school funds: Flexible resources for all school communities — above and beyond the funding provided through school budgets — with a focus on communities hardest-hit by the pandemic. 

  • $165 Million in priority resources for all: Evidence-based academic & social-emotional resources administered by the district. 

  • $201 Million in targeted student supports: Resources focused toward priority student groups.  

While developing Moving Forward Together, the district was intentional about prioritizing the resources and supports that students, staff and families have requested in recent weeks and months. These include investments in mentors, tutors, mental health resources, job opportunities, and many more of the initiatives outlined in this plan.  

Flexible School Funds ($68M in FY22)

Every CPS school is facing new challenges, and the district is committed to prioritizing school communities most impacted by challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic. The needs of our schools vary widely, and the district believes that individual school leaders are best positioned to engage their communities and determine what their students and staff need. By prioritizing resources for those most impacted by COVID-19, we are ensuring that flexible dollars are available where they are needed most. 

While all schools will receive a share of this funding, allocations will be higher for the schools that have the greatest needs. The district has made a variety of efforts in recent years to promote equity in the budget process, and these funds will promote even greater equity in school funding.

Flexible funding provided through Moving Forward Together will be allocated in the following ways: 

  • Discretionary Funding that Prioritizes our Highest Need Schools and Students ($47M in FY22): A significant portion of all Moving Forward Together funding is being provided as flexible dollars, with the understanding that some schools need more support than others, and school communities are best positioned to determine their own needs. The district will allocate these funds using the new Unfinished Learning School Investment Index, which considers a variety of criteria to identify the schools that need the most based on enrollment to successfully support their students. Schools will use a new tool to help identify the specific students who need the most support, and school staff will engage students, staff and families in the development of plans to utilize these funds. These funds were included as flexible dollars in school budgets for the 2021-22 school year, and additional dollars will be provided to schools in 2022-23. 

  • Out of School Time Funds ($21M in FY22): Providing students with access to a wide variety of enrichment resources that align to their interests, provide additional academic support, and strengthen relationships will be crucial to overcoming many of the challenges our students face. To ensure all schools can offer after-school and summer programming, the district is providing supplemental funding for Out of School Time programs and coordinators. Funds for FY22 were included as part of 2021-22 school budgets.

Priority Resources for All  ($93M in FY22)

Research has shown that a specific set of tools and resources are most likely to help  students overcome the challenges they now face, and the district is making a significant investment to ensure every CPS school has access to a framework of impactful resources that address a variety of needs. Key initiatives include:

  • Social, Emotional and Healing-Centered Resources ($16M in FY22): In conjunction with the district’s new Healing-Centered Framework, which is providing trauma-informed training for staff and extensive supports for adults and students, CPS is making a substantial investment to ensure all schools have their own behavioral and mental health teams, establishing new partnerships to expand mental health services and investing in new curriculum on SEL and bullying prevention for all schools. These investments are being made in addition to the district’s ongoing commitment to increase social worker staffing and provide a social worker for all schools by 2023-24.

  • Academic Interventions ($6M in FY22): To ensure all schools have the ability to identify and address individual student needs, CPS is investing in targeted math and literacy interventions, and implementing a comprehensive data platform that will allow schools to identify students in need of additional support. 

  • Classroom Technology Investments ($19M in FY22): The past year has highlighted the importance of providing students and staff with high quality, modern technology, and we are making a substantial investment to ensure teachers and classrooms have modern devices — including new computers, cameras, projectors, and interactive displays — that will allow them to fully utilize the best available technology and curriculum at the direction of classroom teachers. 

  • Equitable Curriculum Enhancements ($32M in FY22): This summer, the district will release its comprehensive universal curriculum, which is culturally responsive, tailored to the needs of Chicago students, and available to all teachers. To supplement these groundbreaking resources, we are investing in additional professional development for staff and essential resources, including high-quality book sets for every classroom, math manipulatives, and science kits for schools adopting the curriculum, so that schools do not have to use their flexible funding dollars to obtain these resources. $8 million in FY22 will be focused on ensuring that every K-3 classroom that adopts the curriculum will receive new books sets. In addition to this $32 million investment in FY22, another $5 million in targeted curriculum implementation support will be provided to the highest-need schools.

  • Work-Based Training and Postsecondary Support ($5M in FY22): Promoting long-term success requires more than just access to high-quality classroom instruction — we must ensure students have access to jobs and work training experiences that will allow them to be successful long after graduation. Through Moving Forward Together, we are investing in a comprehensive set of post-secondary supports including a new Work-Based Learning Center, which will provide students in all grades with exposure to potential career paths. And to enhance postsecondary support and increase postsecondary success among CPS graduates, 16,000 students will receive programming through the Chicago Roadmap, which supports post-graduation success including early college credit, academic readiness, internships, counseling supports, and work-based learning. 

  • Instructional Supports for Educators ($5M in FY22): All schools will benefit from both additional professional development on academic and social and emotional learning, as well as access to assessment resources that better connect to curriculum and support academic progress.

  • Resources to Engage and Support Families ($5M in FY22): To ensure families have the support and guidance needed to help their children make the most of their education, we are investing in additional partnerships and initiatives that will empower families in the months and years ahead. By funding partnership with CBOs to support parent outreach, expanding access to Spanish-language training sessions for parents and LSC members, establishing parent training sessions that support early childhood literacy, and enhancing Parent University programming, among other initiatives, we are helping parents access the supports and resources they need to promote success for their entire family.

Targeted Student Supports  ($106M in FY22)

Through a substantial investment in targeted supports, the district will ensure impactful resources are allocated to address the immediate needs of the most impacted students. Key initiatives include:

  • “CPS Tutor Corps” to Ensure Students Meet Key Academic Benchmarks  ($25M in FY22): Research shows that one of the most effective strategies for accelerating student progress is through targeted, one-on-one support. Through a first-of-its-kind initiative in the district, we are establishing the CPS Tutor Corps, which will hire and train 850 new staff members to serve as literacy tutors in grades K-5 and math tutors in grades 6-12 by the 2022-23 school year. 400 tutors will focus specifically on K-2 literacy to guarantee at minimum that the 47 highest-priority elementary schools will receive tutors. Through this investment, we will help the district reach its goal of ensuring all students are proficient readers by the end of second grade, which is a benchmark for long-term success. Remaining tutors will be matched at schools that educate students who most need additional intervention.

  • Early Literacy Supports to Ensure All Students are Proficient Readers by End of Second Grade ($6M in FY22): Research shows that early literacy is a key predictor of long-term student success, and through Moving Forward Together we are making a series of investments to ensure students are proficient readers by the end of second grade. Over the next two years, 200 schools will receive additional teacher development and leadership training to support high-quality literacy instruction. In addition, 47 of our highest-need schools will be supplied with culturally and linguistically representative classroom libraries and take home text books sets. 75 schools will be provided with additional funds and multigenerational, culturally responsive programming for parents, grandparents, and other caregivers to support literacy development among young learners. In total — inclusive of the targeted supports detailed here, universal curriculum, and tutoring supports — CPS will invest over $27 million in FY22 to ensure all students are proficient readers by the end of second grade. 

  • Mentorship and Mental Health Supports ($12M in FY22): High-quality mentorship opportunities can be some of the most impactful — and most requested — supports, especially for boys and young men of color. To ensure students have the guidance and support they need, the district will establish a pool of highly qualified mentorship and mental health providers, which will support students who would benefit most from additional guidance.

  • Student Job Opportunities and Targeted Efforts to Support Student Transitions & Student and Family Engagement ($18M in FY22): The extended closure of CPS classrooms has made it harder for students in transition grades to bond with their peers and teachers, which has a strong influence on long-term success. Now that students are beginning to safely transition back to classrooms, we are investing in transition programs like Pre-K Preview, Kick Off to Kindergarten, Freshmen Connection, Sophomore Connection and post-secondary transition programs to provide over 50,000 (approximately 26,000 served in a typical year) students in transition years with additional support and summer programming. And to ensure that students are engaged and return in the fall, schools will be provided with supplemental funding to support summer outreach efforts. Summer jobs will be made available to 800 high-risk students, 200 of whom will also participate in the Choose to Change program, which is proven to reduce violence and justice system involvement among participants. These programs will support the district’s broader re-engagement strategy, which is being developed.

  • Additional School Counselors: ($5 Million in FY22): CPS will invest $5 million in FY22 to increase the number of school counselors in our highest-need schools to help ensure CPS students have the academic, social-emotional and postsecondary counseling and supports necessary to succeed in school, career, and life. The district will fund 64 additional positions over the next two years, and these positions will be prioritized for schools with the greatest need as identified by the Unfinished Learning Investment Index in consultation with the Equity Framework and Opportunity Index. 

  • Summer Learning Programs ($8M in FY22): Many of our students need support addressing unfinished learning, and the district is committed to delivering those supports prior to the next school year. Through summer learning programs like Summer Bridge Plus and Expanded Credit Recovery, nearly 17,500 students (9,500 served during a typical year) will benefit from summer instruction that will help accelerate learning prior to the fall.

  • Additional Support for Diverse Learners ($24M in FY22): Going above and beyond for our highest-need students is central to Moving Forward Together, and we are investing in a substantial expansion of supplemental programming for diverse learners. Beginning this summer, CPS is doubling the capacity of its diverse learner summer program to serve up to 10,000 students (5,000 served in a typical year) and extending the program an additional two weeks. We are also providing new programming for 22 schools to help diverse learners successfully transition to higher education, and we are investing in structured literacy training for diverse learner educators to ensure they can effectively support students who have difficulty reading and spelling.

  • Additional Support for English Learners ($2M in FY22): English learners in CPS have made incredible strides in recent years, and we must ensure additional investments are made to help continue their success. To support students who have the greatest language needs, we are expanding the successful summer program for English Learners to support 9,000 students (approximately 1,500 served in a typical year) beginning this summer. And to ensure supplemental supports are available year-round, 150 schools will receive additional funding to support after-school programming that is specific to English Learners.

Prioritizing Those in Greatest Need Through School Investment Index & School-Level Flexibility 

While all schools will receive additional resources, Moving Forward Together recognizes the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has had on Black and Latinx communities and priority student groups and is designed to ensure additional support is provided to school communities most impacted by the pandemic. 

In order to prioritize equity, the district developed the Unfinished Learning School Investment Index which identifies communities with the most student need by evaluating the following, with the Opportunity Index weighing 80 percent and the other indices making up the remaining 20 percent:  

  • Opportunity Index: Evaluates key factors that create barriers to opportunity, including socioeconomic status, race, community health indices and other factors. 

  • COVID Case Rates in School Zip Codes: Schools located in zip codes with  the highest COVID-19 case positivity rates in March 2020 will be given increased priority. 

  • Student Mobility: This indicator looks at a school’s population of students who  attended multiple schools in a single year, recognizing that schools with high student mobility serve students in greater need of additional support. 

Surrounding School Community Trauma Exposure: This indicator looks at shooting injuries that took place within 500 meters of a school as a proxy of trauma the school community may experience related to school safety.

Chicago Public Schools serves 341,000 students in 638 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.