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Our Initiatives

The Academy for Global Citizenship’s environmental mission is to enable a healthy environment in which nature thrives. AGC amplifies a child’s inherent wonder of nature by exploring the natural world with them. Our students build an insatiable curiosity of the environment based on love, respect, and appreciation.

In 2022, the Emeril Lagasse Foundation announced it will open its newest Emeril’s Culinary Garden & Teaching Kitchen at the Academy for Global Citizenship. The signature program is a national education program that integrates culinary gardens and teaching kitchens in schools to create interactive learning environments centered on food. 

Bins Outside the Front Doors
Rain Barrels
Organic Cafeteria
Waste Dumpster
Recycle Dumpster
Compost Bins
Wind Turbine
Solar Panels
Native Garden
Organic Garden Boxes
Unplanted Garden Box

A. Chickens

We believe in the power of experiential education and teaching through responsibility. AGC’s urban schoolyard chickens provide students, beginning in kindergarten, with the opportunity to connect with animals while learning first hand what it means to take care of them. Students are responsible for feeding, coop-cleaning, and egg collection. Through this experience they are able to connect and respect animals as essential parts of the ecosystem while experiencing empathy for all living beings. By collecting and using their eggs, students learn about where food comes from and how animals and humans have a symbiotic relationship.

Daisy, Rosie and Bluebell dig, cluck, flap and explore the schoolyard - teaching us about animal needs and care, egg laying and the role of animals in our ecosystem.

B. Organic Garden Boxes

Organic Garden Box

Each year, students meet with local farmers and our kitchen staff to choose what to plant. They map out their garden plans and begin planting in the greenhouse. When the plants are strong, the students transplant the seedlings and tend to their growth. At harvest time, the students excitedly pluck the diverse produce and taste their labor of love. Over the summer, our summer campers and parent workshop participants tend to the garden and use produce in cooking workshops. By engaging the students and families in the whole process, they experience the patience, hard work and joy of gardening. Students are more motivated to eat fruits and vegetables both at school and at home by working in school gardens. The garden is a tool that can be used for math, science, history, geography, culture and language.

Raised beds enable us to grow diverse healthy, organic and local food. Here you will find fruit, vegetables, herbs, ornamentals and other usable plants.

C. Unplanted Garden Box

Unplanted Garden Box

AGC is committed to harnessing the natural curiosity of children. We work to create environments in which they can explore nature and learn through observation. The unplanted garden box gives students the opportunity to do what kids like to do most, dig and get their hands dirty.

This garden box is left unplanted to give the students a place to dig. Here we find worms, composting plant matter and different strata of soil.

D. Native Garden

Native gardens are wonderful learning tools that can tie into many curricular goals including geography, native peoples and science. AGC’s native garden inspires the imagination of what our city was back when it was Prairie Land. Many of the AGC initiatives aim to restore parts of our community to their natural state.

Native grasses and flowers remind us of Illinois’ prairie-past while attracting butterflies and bees. Observing the cycle of regrowth each year helps us understand how plants survive the extreme temperature shifts in Chicago.

E. Playground

Playground at AGC

Physical health is an essential goal of AGC’s commitment to serving the whole child.  Recess allows kids to explore, interact with each other, use their imaginations, build strength, motor-skills and build healthy bodies.  The social and emotional importance of recess is foundational to schedule that incorporates movement throughout the day.

Everyday, recess gives us the opportunity to run, play, connect and explore. Our healthy bodies and health minds work together.

F. Greenhouse

Greenhouse at AGC

AGC’s greenhouse is a wonderful place to experiment and learn about different ways of grown. With a relatively short growing season, the Greenhouse gives AGC students additional time to plant and grow. Purchased through a financial donation and built by a local construction company using donated services, the AGC Greenhouse is a true example of the community coming together to support green school initiatives.

In our greenhouse we extend our growing season by planting early and learning about how to capture and maintain heat.

G. Solar Panels

Solar Panels at AGC

The Solar Learning Lab represents AGC’s commitment to creating a Net-Positive School- a site where we will produce more energy than we consume through clean and renewable sources. We can track our solar production in real-time and translate our production into how many pound of carbon we have saved from the environment, how many houses we could power and how many trees would need to be planted to offset the same amount of carbon emissions.

The Solar Energy Learning Lab doubles as an outdoor classroom. Each panel is tracked in real time online.

H. Wind Turbine

Wind Turbine

Designed and built locally, the vertical mounted helix Wind Turbine stands as an artistic reminder and lesson of what is possible. The turbine provides a rare opportunity to see this unique design up close. As our students and community pass by it every morning, the turbine inspires a sense of possibility in the future of clean energy.

This demonstration wind turbine reminds us that we can harness the power of nature to provide for our needs.

I. Compost Bins


Cafeteria composting is done on and off-site. The students are responsible for separating their waste and managing the compost bins. After harvest, students will add in the plant matter to keep the bins balanced. In each classroom, students manage their worm-compost bins as classroom pets. Composting allows us to teach about systems, decomposition, waste reduction, the role of worms in nature, healthy soils and traditional science.

Composting helps reduce landfill waste while providing us with fresh nutrient rich soil. By composting our food waste AGC is proud to operate a zero-waste breakfast and lunch program. Worms live in all of our classrooms to (vermi) compost snack peels and cores.

J. Recycle Dumpster

Recycle Dumpster

AGC is committed to purchasing 100% recycled paper and other ethically sourced school products. Each room is equipped with compost and recycling bins. We have partnered with a local company to collected recycling from school families who do not have access to recycling at home.

Ensuring operational and maintenance functions are aligned with the mission is essential to success. Our recycling dumpster is larger than our waste dumpster.

K. Waste Dumpster

Waste Dumpster at AGC

By aligning everyone with the goals and benefits of waste reduction, AGC has reduced the per person amount of waste that we produce. By composting all of our food waste and using reusable trays, cups and silverware, AGC is running a zero waste food program. Reuse of paper and thoughtful purchasing has enabled us to significantly reduce both waste and recycling.

By engaging everyone in school in generating less waste, we have reduced our dumpster pick up to once every two weeks - an environmental and cost savings.

L. Asphalt


Transforming the asphalt parking lot into a play-space, organic garden and chicken run has been an experience that enables us to share the possibility of space usage for our community. By understanding the challenges and opportunities of space transformation, AGC has helped families design and install home gardens, ranging from raised beds to indoor herb gardens. We have learned how to use garden spaces to divide open space and create distinct usable areas.

13,000 square feet of asphalt are transformed into a baseball diamond, soccer field, running track, yoga studio, tag arena and imagination space.

M. Bins Outside the Front Doors


Consistent signage and easy access to waste, compost and recycling bins have been instrumental in creating a culture of knowledgeable students and staff. By separating our waste, we understand the impact of our choices and the possibility of reuse and repurposing. We have thoughtfully designed signs that are clear for kids and adults and are reflective of the products used in each of the rooms.

Compost, Waste and Recycling bins are clearly marked and readily accessible for our school community to use.

N. Rain Barrels

Rain Barrels

Water conservation is an increasingly important issue throughout our community and in the world. Locally, flooding is a major challenge that Chicago faces. Globally, access to clean drinking water is an increasing threat. By learning how to collect and conserve water, our students also grow to understand the vital importance of a resource that seems endless.

Water collected from the Greenhouse collects into rain barrels. By learning about our local watershed and water conservation, students are able to be more empathetic to water issues around the world.

O. Organic Cafeteria

Organic Cafeteria at AGC

Organic, scratch-made, nutritionally balanced and locally sourced meals highlight AGC’s innovation and commitment to sustainability and raising healthy students, while providing children with knowledge that enhances their educational experience by encouraging mindful eating. We celebrate “Meatless Mondays” and always have a vegetarian or vegan option. Our produce comes from local farms, grown by individuals we know by name. An average school day may start with whole-wheat crepes with strawberry compote, and be punctuated with a bowl of Avogolemono, a Greek take on chicken noodle soup, with hearty egg and fresh lemon and end with a snack of crunchy kale chips, still warm from the oven. We celebrate meatless mondays Our produce comes from local.

Organic, scratch-made, nutritionally balanced and local sourced meals highlight AGC’s innovation and commitment to environmental sustainability and raising healthy students.

P. Office

Office at AGC

What is the default setting for your printer? Ours is GOOS, which stands for Good On One Side. We collect paper to print on that has one blank side so that we can use every page to the fullest. We also save and re-use envelopes (for internal uses, of which there are many) and any glossy or irregular paper that can’t go into the GOOS pile is cut up to use as notecards, post-its, or flash cards. By using electronic information systems, email, online storage and a website for classroom and community announcements, we reduce a great deal of need for paper products. By becoming aware of the impact of our daily practices, we become more aware of the practices themselves and the small changes we can make to impact a larger shift.

GOOS paper, recycled envelopes, note paper scrap, electronic information delivery and storage are just some of the secrets of a sustainable office.

Q. Classrooms

Classrooms at AGC

GOOS paper boxes, vermicompost boxes and organic snacks are a few things you will find in an AGC classroom. As with our schoolyard chickens, students learn how to care for and appreciate worms during “worm week,” after which they’re presented with a worm compost box for their classroom. With sustainable practices embedded into the curriculum and school culture, AGC has fostered caring and an inquisitive nature about all things while maintaining the academic rigor of the International Baccalaureate framework.

From collecting GOOS paper to feeding worm-compost bins, students learn in an environment that supports our Environmental mission.

R. Transportation


Encouraging walking and biking, through our Walking School bus and a faculty wellness fund, which reimburses staff for bicycles or running shoes, as well as carpools and ride-shares, makes our school safer by eliminating dangerous and frustrating back-ups due to parked cars. Organized walking and biking to school programs encourage healthy lifestyles and choices, community building, parental involvement, safe transportation and environmentally responsible options. Walking and biking to school also enables parents to become part of the school community and gives students the opportunity to exercise and socialize before the school day begins.

With our Walking School Bus, parents collaborate to share the responsibility of walking students to school and reduce the need for cars.
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