Citizen Schools

Citizen Schools

Citizen Schools lifts the educational trajectories of low-income students, ages 11–14, by partnering with middle schools across the country to expand the learning day.

Citizen Schools helps students improve their academic performance, and prepare for high school and college, by developing skills such as oral and written communications and critical thinking, and by exposing them to college and career pathways. “Citizen Teacher” volunteers engage them in "apprenticeships," hands-on learning projects that culminate in an end-of-semester event called a WOW! where students share their creations or what they have learned with families and community members.

Trained educators and AmeriCorps members build relationships with families, school staff, and external partners to foster a culture of achievement throughout partner schools. Citizen Schools is nationally recognized for its work in expanded learning time, volunteer service and civic engagement.


EMCF awarded nearly $27 million to Citizen Schools from 2000 through 2015, and helped secure an additional $30.8 million from eight co-investors in two rounds of growth capital aggregation. These investments contributed significantly to Citizen Schools’ growth, program evolution, evidence base, and sustainability. During this time, Citizen Schools grew from serving 401 youth in Boston to over 4,800 youth in California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, and Texas. It increased its annual revenue from $4 million to nearly $30 million, including raising its percentage of public funding from zero to over 30 percent, an important part of its sustainability model.

In 2009, Citizen Schools began to shift from providing an opt-in afterschool program to an expanded learning time (ELT) program integrated into the school day and attended by all students in a grade or entire middle school, with the goal of making a greater impact on student achievement and its work more financially sustainable.

A longitudinal matched comparison group study completed in 2010 by Policy Studies Associates found that 59 percent of middle school participants in Citizen Schools' afterschool program went on to “college track” high schools, more than twice the rate of the comparison group. Seventy-one percent of participants in the program graduated high school on time, compared to 59 percent of the comparison group. In 2010, Citizen Schools commissioned Abt Associates to conduct a five-year quasi-experimental external evaluation of the implementation and impact of the ELT initiative. The study will be completed in 2016.

EMCF’s final grant in 2014 was to support a leadership transition from the founding CEO, Eric Schwarz, to new CEO Steven Rothstein.

A case study chronicles the Foundation's investment in Citizen Schools and documents its impact on the organization: Reaching for Scale and National Impact.


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