Chicago mayor, Schapiro celebrate new Northwestern facility for CPS students


(Marissa Page/Daily Senior Staffer) Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel speaks at a celebration of Northwestern Academy for Chicago Public Schools’ new location on the Chicago campus. The Academy provides college counseling and other academic services to about 200 CPS students.

Marissa Page, Managing Editor

CHICAGO — University President Morton Schapiro and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel convened at Northwestern’s Chicago campus on Sunday to celebrate the opening of a facility for the Northwestern Academy for Chicago Public Schools.

The new space, which University spokesman Al Cubbage said first became operational in the fall, is housed on the16th floor of Abbott Hall, 710 N. Lake Shore Dr., and features study spaces and high-tech classrooms with screens and other teaching tools lining the walls.

Northwestern Academy provides college preparatory courses and academic assistance to a diverse group of low-income CPS students. Interested students apply during their freshman year of high school to participate in either a three-week summer program or sporadic meetings throughout the academic year, connecting with an adviser who can provide tutoring, college counseling and other educational services.

The most recent 81-student cohort was culled from about 500 applicants, Academy director Cassandra Geiger said.

“We do an admissions review like the highly-selective colleges do,” she said. “It’s very holistic. We look at a lot of pieces about the family, their situation, about their academics and their interests for later in life.”

Roughly a dozen of the 198 Academy students toured with Schapiro and Emanuel through the new facility, their button-ups and sweaters adorned with white stickers reading “Ask me about what’s my favorite thing about the space,” “Ask me about my summer” and “Ask me about my college acceptances.” Thirty-one of the 58 seniors in the Academy have been accepted by colleges, Schapiro said in his remarks.

“There are some extraordinary CPS high school kids who don’t always get the advantage,” Schapiro said. “They don’t always get the advice they would get if they were not first-generation college-going. And we decided we were gonna try to do something about that.”

Geiger told The Daily that Schapiro and Emanuel together devised the idea for the Academy with the goal of providing “cultural enrichment” and academic support to high-achieving, under-resourced CPS students. Geiger brought the program into its current form with support from the School of Education and Social Policy as well as the Good Neighbor, Great University initiative.

In addition to counseling services, Academy students are taken on college tours across the country and receive guidance in seeking financial aid for academic summer programs at institutions such as Georgetown University and Carleton College.

Emanuel said the Academy helps instill the importance of earning a degree beyond a high school diploma.

“What they’re doing is leveling the playing field (so) that no student’s experiences and opportunities and dreams should be limited by their zip code, their background or their family’s income,” Emanuel said at the event. “That is a tremendous statement by Northwestern.”

Academy member Michelle Audisho, a first-generation U.S. citizen, said her parents left Iraq for the U.S. A sophomore in Lincoln Park High School’s International Baccalaureate program, Audisho said the support she’s received from her Academy adviser and peers has encouraged her to pursue her dreams of going to law school.

“My father had to give up a lot of dreams and hopes to support his family,” the 15-year-old told The Daily. “Northwestern really takes the initiative and … (doesn’t) let you let go of any ambitions which is great to have that support system. I’m really grateful for it.”

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