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Program Archives


Renewing Public Education


(click on each project listed below to learn more)

Urban Imagination Network school redevelopment program (1995-2001) 

Urban Imagination Network Teacher Renewal

Parent Development Program

Reading and Writing a City

click here to obtain downloadable documents

Urban Imagination Network school redevelopment program (1995-2001) 

The public school system is at the heart of the city’s future.  As a foundational institution with a commitment to developing the capacity of children, its ability to educate students, particularly youth from at-risk communities, has a major impact on the city’s future. 

The Urban Imagination Network was a collaboration developed and facilitated by IMAGINE CHICAGO between eight Chicago public schools and six museums (the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, Chicago History Society, Chicago Botanic Garden, the Kohl Children’s Museum, and Mitchell Museum of the American Indian) to create in-school exhibits in the content areas of science and social studies to improve reading comprehension.  The teachers and principals served as change agents to revitalize their schools through an asset-based approach to planning and the integration of visual, interactive learning into the curriculum. Each school developed an on-site museum, working in partnership with a different museum each year.  The Chicago Annenberg Challenge funded the network as a six-year development process with its final implementation year in 2001. Samples of curriculum and planning materials are available here A comprehensive case study and evaluation by DePaul University of the UIN’s impact on participating members is available here.

Urban Imagination Network Teacher Renewal (1998-2001)

Teachers need inner resources that sustain commitment and hope.  The spirit projected by the classroom teacher lies at the heart of school renewal. The Urban Imagination Network Teacher Renewal program was an expansion of a national program developed and underwritten by the Fetzer Institute that seeks to renew public education through the personal renewal of the public school teacher.  In this program of eight quarterly retreats, the focus was on exploring the “heart of the teacher”, making use of personal stories, reflections on classroom practice, and insights from poets, storytellers and various wisdom traditions.  It brought together 24 K-12 Chicago public school teachers and was designed and facilitated by IMAGINE CHICAGO. The program began in the fall of 1998 and extended through summer 2001 with two groups of teachers completing a two-year cycle of overnight retreats held at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Examples of curriculum materials are available here.  A discussion of impacts and outcomes is available here.

Parent Development Program (1999-2002)

Parental involvement in education has the most powerful impact ona child’s educational success. From 1999 to 2002, IMAGINE CHICAGO rana parent literacy program for parents in seven Chicago public schools.This bi-lingual program was run in partnership with Chicago area museums and underwritten by the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, local area churches, and local corporations. Its focus was to improve parents’effectiveness as family educators through developing reading, research and workforce skills, and strengthening school-community connections.The program included computer literacy training and the establishment of family savings accounts. The program offered parents, who had often been objects in a depersonalized system of education and welfare, the opportunity to understand and shape the systems at the heart of a city’s life and a family’s budget--transportation, energy, education, food, communication, wealth creation, recreation, housing, health.  Parents designed and created activities to teach their children what they had learned. By learning to read their city, the parents re-envisioned themselves as educators, community leaders, thinkers, creators of the city’s future. Acting as agents of change within their families, their schools and their communities engaged them and reshaped their self-understanding as citizens and as parents who act on behalf of what they value.  Extensive examples of curriculum materials from the program are available here.

Reading and Writing a City (1997-1998)

Reading and Writing a City was a curriculum about Chicago’s builtenvironment that challenged students to understand Chicago’sdevelopment and see themselves as creators of Chicago’s future.Reading and Writing a City, designed by IMAGINE CHICAGO and DePaul’sCenter for Urban Education, and underwritten by the Graham Foundation,was made available to teachers throughout Chicago public schools in1998. IMAGINE CHICAGO also developed, in collaboration with DePaul University’s Center for Urban Education, a citizenship curriculum Choices for Changes used by 4,000 Chicago public school students.

Resources (downloadable documents)

Urban Imagination Network (UIN):

Parent Program Tool Kit

Curriculum Development

Excerpts from Leadership Planning

Newsletter (November 1999)

Newsletter (July 1999)


Parent Development Program:

Citywide Agenda

Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec

Inschool Agenda

Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec

Parent Program (Spanish)

health, education, income, food, transportation, housing,
, communication, contributors

Parent Program (English)

table of contents:  health, education, income, food,
, housing, energy, communication

Lessons Learned

Progress Report

Quotes by Parents

UIN Teacher Renewal:

UIN Teacher Renewal

UIN Teacher Renewal Sample Agendas


Reading and Writing a City:

Reading Chicago & Bringing It Home Toolkit

part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4




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