Chicago Public Schools Launches Parent Universities 

New Initiative Represents Next Steps in Mayor Emanuel’s Goal of Doubling Number of Parental Engagement Centers by 2019
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                                                
Thursday, March 26, 2015 

Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett joined First Lady Amy Rule, Dr. Jose Lopez, President of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center, Alderman Roberto Maldonado and CPS officials today to launch the Parent University program, which will provide parents and guardians of CPS students with facilities and resources to learn in the same schools attended by their children. The Parent University program is another effort by the Emanuel Administration to engage and support parents, building upon the 31 Parent Engagement Centers established since the Mayor took office. By 2019, CPS will double the number of these centers.

“Two of the most important doors that any child walks through for their education are the front door of their school and but also the front door of their home and so with this new effort we will help more parents support the success of their children,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Parent Universities are another example of how we can work together to invest in the success of our children, while also making sure that their parents and the entire community have the resources necessary for a brighter future as well.” 

“We are inviting parents and community members to engage in the learning process while also providing students in Chicago Public Schools to have real-life exposure to what it means to be a life-long learner,” said CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. “The Parent Universities will allow the entire family, students and parents, to reap the benefits of CPS resources.”

Each Parent University will be equipped with a computer lab, a parent resource room, an office area and an activity room and will begin with programs The Art of Digital Video, Tasteful Manners and Holy Goat Percussion from the Office of Family and Community Engagement.

The Office of Teaching and Learning has developed “parent friendly” presentations and resources to support core content areas. City Colleges is partnering with the Austin-Westside and Humboldt Park sites to provide GED and College Bridge programming. 

Members of the Chicago Public Schools Parent University will receive digital badges for completing tasks such as attending a report card pick up, participating in a workshop, or volunteering at a school function. These badges have the potential to unlock additional opportunities for participants. The first badge participants can receive is the Parent Scholar badge. Participants receive this badge when they sign up for CPS Parent University. A parent or guardian can sign up at

Parent Universities fulfill the five principals of Parent and Community Engagement. Principle one is to provide opportunities for parents and community to engage in the learning process. Principle two is to provide opportunities for parents and community to be active participants in the education of our students. Principle three is to design programs that encourage parents and community to pursue extended growth opportunities. Principle four is to create an environment for parents and community that provides access to needed services and resources. And the last principle develops systems for parents and community to have clear communication with the school district, providing access to system-wide initiatives and current practices.

The selected schools are:

Roberto Clemente Community High School, located at 1147 N. Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

Sir Miles Davis Magnet Elementary, located at 6730 S. Paulina St., Chicago, IL 60636

Spencer Technology Academy, located at 214 N. Lavergne Ave., Chicago, IL 60644 

The Spencer location is currently operating, and the Miles Davis location will open in April 2015.

The concept for the Parent Universities was born out of Strategic Pillar Three, Engaged and Empowered Families and Community. Their creation is based on the understanding that parents and community are an essential component in educating our children. The intent is to provide parents and community members with experiences that will provide them a new outlook on education and the learning process that will transfer into positive outcomes for CPS students.

CPS’ partnerships with Comcast, Chicago City of Learning, DePaul University’s Digital Youth Network, Microsoft and United Way will allow CPS to complete the task of 16 Parent Engagement Center refreshes by the end of the 2015 calendar year.

All virtual and in-person learning opportunities are absolutely free to all CPS parents and guardians.

Chicago Public Schools serves 396,000 students in 664 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.

Page Last Modified on Tuesday, March 31, 2015