About Us

The Academy for Global Citizenship (AGC) is reimagining the future of what’s possible in public education. As a non-profit Chicago public charter school, located on the city’s urban southwest side, we have constructed a “school of the future” that is trailblazing an unparalleled level of sustainability and an entirely new learning environment rooted in wonder. 

With a mission is to develop mindful leaders who take action now and in the future to positively impact their communities and the world beyond, our innovative and holistic approach aims to foster systemic change and inspire the way society educates future generations through incubating, evaluating, and disseminating our best practices to the world.

About hero 01

Mission

Nuestra misión es capacitar a todos los estudiantes para que impacten positivamente a sus comunidades y al mundo de más allá.

Vision

Our vision is to ignite a movement to create a better world. We will transform our global educational systems by serving as an incubator of innovation. 

Our History

The Academy for Global Citizenship's non-profit was founded in 2005 with an audacious dream to reimagine the future of learning. After two failed attempts in 2005 and 2006 to persuade the Chicago Board of Education to allow a group of young idealists to open an experimental public school inside of a former dental tool factory, AGC received approval in 2007 and opened its doors in 2008 to 88 kindergarten and first grade students. 

In 2009, AGC relocated eleven blocks away to a former barrel factory, and subsequently grew year-by-year to eventually serving approximately 500 kindergarten through eighth grade students. We never stopped dreaming, and even from our earliest days, we would spend our nights and weekends ideating and creating a vision for translating our innovative pedagogical approach into a reimagined physical learning environment.

Our ambitions continued to expand over the years, as families and communities contributed their hopes and dreams for how we can reimagine the role and purpose of schools. Together, our collective ideas and enthusiasm culminated in the design of a six-acre campus and "school of the future". Nearly two decades later, we opened our doors in the fall of 2023 to the Cultivate Collective hub and welcomed our first early childhood students.

Cultivate Collective is now a national model for holistic community revitalization that that unites education, wellness, sustainability and economic vitality to create a resilient, equitable, and vibrant future for all. Cultivate’s six-acre demonstration site now houses the Academy for Global Citizenship's (AGC K-8 public school, an early childhood Head Start center, a community health care center, three-acre urban farm, neighborhood fresh food marketplace, six teaching kitchens, and a range of community wellness programs and amenities.

Our Founder

Sarah Elizabeth Ippel's life mission is to cultivate thriving communities. When she was 23 years old, she rode her bicycle to the Chicago Board of Education with a request: to reimagine what is possible in public education. Three years later, in 2008, the Academy for Global Citizenship (AGC) opened in a former dental tool factory on the city’s under-resourced southwest side where Sarah Elizabeth serves as its Founder and Executive Director. A Chicago Public Elementary School on a global mission that serves 96% minority children and families, AGC is developing the next generation of critical thinkers and mindful leaders to positively impact their communities and the world beyond.

Since its founding, the Academy for Global Citizenship has become recognized across the globe for its innovative approach to learning combined with comprehensive results and has developed the first regenerative community hub to serve as a replicable model for the world. As an international learning laboratory and incubator of best practices, AGC has ignited an educational movement by scaling its model through training over 10,000 educators and reaching over five million students to date. Sarah Elizabeth completed a yearlong Entrepreneur in Residence Fellowship with Laurene Powell Jobs’ Emerson Collective where she contributing to authoring AGC’s book titled “Reimagine Education: Designing a School to Change the world” and is continuing this work to build an Institute to disseminate evidenced-based strategies.

Sarah Elizabeth spearheaded the plans for the “school of the future” and community learning hub in Chicago called Cultivate Collective to serve as a prototype for the United States and that demonstrates cutting-edge education and sustainability practices. This $85 million, six-acre project serves as a center for positive social and environmental action, while enabling community wealth generation and lifelong learning pathways. In addition to spurring economic development in a disinvested community, Cultivate Collective provides critically needed access to tuition-free early childhood learning, high quality public education, health care and mental health services, community wellness facilities, neighborhood gardens and green spaces, and a fresh foods market featuring produce from the onsite three-acre urban farm. The net-positive energy project is slated to join only 24 others across the globe that have achieved an unparalleled level of sustainable design and performance through the Living Building Challenge certification and will be an international model for climate resiliency.

Since earning a Masters of Philosophy from the University of Cambridge in England at 21, Sarah Elizabeth has traveled to over 100 countries across six continents, extensively immersing herself in educational philosophies and world languages, as well as creating international alliances that have informed the design and culture of the Academy for Global Citizenship. In addition to studying the application of successful educational frameworks in various cultural contexts across the globe, earlier initiatives included the development and implementation of globally cooperative literacy programs for orphan children in northern Tanzania. Sarah Elizabeth has further completed studies in Nonprofit Management at Harvard Business School.

During her five-year term as Vice President of Education on the governing board of the United Nations Association, Sarah Elizabeth fostered broader implementation of The Growing Connection, an organic gardening initiative established to cross-culturally connect children and educators across continents through technology. She has also served on the Chicago Chapter of the United States Green Building Council Green Schools Advocacy Committee, Chicago Public Schools’ Environmental Action Plan Taskforce, and is a founding member of Conservation International’s Generation Conservation and Adrian Grenier’s Lonely Whale ocean conservation foundation. Sarah Elizabeth's additional leadership and civic contributions have also included executive board memberships with Northwestern Memorial Hospital and the Art Institute of Chicago. She currently serves on Partners in Health’s Summits Education board that is scaling educational models in rural Haiti.

Sarah Elizabeth was selected as a United States Delegate to Terra Madre in 2010, where she met with representatives from over 60 nations to discuss the sustainability of our local and global food systems. In 2011, she was named one of Monocle’s Top 20 International Pioneers in Education and visited the White House to receive a national award from the Obama administration. In 2012 and 2013, Sarah Elizabeth was appointed as one of 100 Delegates from 20 countries across the globe who assembled for the G8 Young Global Leaders Summit, preparing recommendations for a communiqué for President Obama and the U.S. Department of State. In 2013, Sarah Elizabeth was recognized by Forbes as one of the nation’s “top five game changers in education”, was the recipient of the GOOD 100 list of “people pushing the world forward through doing”, was named a Bluhm Helfand Social Innovation Fellow and was selected by the Council on Global Affairs as an Emerging Leader Fellow. In 2014, Sarah Elizabeth was recognized as one of the top 100 US entrepreneurs and was honored at the United Nations. In 2017, the British Council honored Sarah Elizabeth as a finalist for the University of Cambridge Alumni Award for her “exceptional contribution and commitment to creating positive social change and improving the lives of others.” Most recently, Crain’s Chicago Business recognized her as a Notable Leader in Sustainability. When she is not traveling around the world, speaking about the Academy for Global Citizenship’s vision for systemic change, Sarah Elizabeth enjoys honing her skills as an urban farmer and beekeeper.

Contact: sarahelizabeth@agcchicago.org

Our AGC Roots

The Academy for Global Citizenship offers a relevant, engaging and challenging educational program for all children, regardless of learning differences. Every child is held accountable for achieving rigorous academic standards through our International Baccalaureate and Dual Language approach. Our inquiry-based model provides an opportunity for learners to engage in experiential, nature-centric, and hands-on learning. 

Students become environmentally and internationally minded by learning how their choices impact their community and ultimately the world. AGC places an emphasis on the total growth of the developing child by addressing social, physical, linguistic, emotional and cultural needs in addition to academic development. As a community of learners, professionals, families, and teachers work collaboratively to ensure the learning environment supports high achievement and cultivates a joy for learning. AGC respects and embraces the innate curiosity of children, the natural systems of the world and the responsibility to make positive change.

We Value

Whole child

The Whole Child

Academic Excellence

Modelamos excelencia académica

Inquirer

Desarrollamos indagadores

International

Cultivamos la conciencia internacional

Environment

Fomentamos la gestión ambiental

Community

Facilitamos la colaboración en nuestra comunidad

Principals' Letter

Dear AGC Students, Families and Community Members,

AGC prides itself on having a shared leadership model with us —Saskia Rombouts and Berenice Salas— as Co-Principals leading the educational team. This model is grounded on the belief that a culture of shared leadership with a shared philosophy and vision nurtures a sense of interconnectedness and therefore ownership and commitment among all community members. Since 2010, we are both honored to be part of a team who, on a daily basis, truly empowers students to thrive and takes action to positively impact our educational system, our communities and the planet through innovation.

Our educational philosophy is anchored in the belief that how a child learns is just as important as what a child learns. We believe that children should be actively involved in their educational journey as they are valued and supported members of our community. This is their school. If you walk through our school you will not see traditional classrooms, but shared learning areas. AGC’s village model draws inspiration from ancient cultures and emphasizes a holistic community-driven approach to education. This model aims to cultivate a well-rounded education that nurtures not just academic knowledge but also metacognition, socio-emotional wellbeing, emotional intelligence, and a deep appreciation for the collective well-being of the community.

Central to our philosophy are also the believe in bilingualism and bi-literacy for all, critical thinking through a rigorous IB framework, placed-based learning (indoors & outdoors!), justice-centered teaching and truly teaching to the whole child by focusing not just on the academics, but also nutritional and health needs of our students. We like to say that we are a human-centered school community. Additionally, we facilitate the development of a love and respect for nature that ultimately will empower and inspire students to take care of their community and natural resources, and advocate for a greener planet. For that, we spend a lot of time outdoors exploring and learning!

We are grateful and truly honored to be part of our AGC community.

Peace & Health,

Berenice Salas & Saskia Rombouts

Saskia Rombouts

(Ella)
Directora de los grados PreK-3

Berenice Salas

(She, Her)
Upper School Principal (Grades 4-8)

AGC Student Council

The AGC Student Council is an elected group of students representing a full spectrum of grade levels. This creative group plans and leads school spirit events throughout the school year with the help of our International Baccalaureate Coordinators. They work to maintain and create AGC traditions with the input of their constituents to ensure student choice, voice, and ownership guides planning for school events. In the past, the AGC Student Council has helped plan spirit weeks, a talent show, challenges to encourage reading, and some charity fundraisers. These students also represent AGC during community events or visiting tours to share their school pride and knowledge with others!

AGC Green Team

The AGC Green Team is a group of students nominated by their teachers to lead the school in sustainability initiatives. The Green Team consists of representative students across all grades K-8. The Green Team identifies and completes sustainability projects in the school including waste audits, community recycling and composting, and efforts to improve energy conservation. The Green Team also plans a multitude of events for a school-wide Earth Month celebration and serves as ambassadors to our national and international visitors throughout the year.