The first effort of its kind to take place in a major city in the United States, Chicago City of Learning (CCOL) is a groundbreaking initiative that joins together learning opportunities for young people in a way that allows them to think about, pursue, and develop their interests. CCOL breaks down the false barriers between learning that happens in school and learning that happens outside of school. Through CCOL young people can take new paths of discovery, explore the city's rich resources and find out what they can learn, make, do, and ultimately become.
CCOL grew out of the City’s 2013 Chicago Summer of Learning in which more than 100 youth-serving organizations joined together to make their programs visible. Youth participants earned digital badges that provide permanent recognition of the achievements made by youth through their activities.
Digital badges represent levels of participation, knowledge, and skill achieved in a variety of non-traditional learning settings. Not only can these badges unlock deeper learning experiences and special opportunities; over time we expect badges to help youth gain, access to internships, jobs, and school credit.
With more organizations joining CCOL with new opportunities, as CCOL grows, we know that ever more young people will discover that they can explore anything that they imagine that they want to learn, make, do, or become, right here in Chicago.
In this Connected City, more and more young people will engage in rich experiences that build their knowledge, skills, and talents. And more and more Chicago youth will have access to knowledge about paths to college and careers that are connected to their interests, passions, and talents.
Chicago City of Learning is based upon the belief that no one institution, on its own, can prepare our young people for their futures. It takes all of the city's resources - its citizens, its community-based organizations, its schools, its places of worships, its agencies, and its cultural institutions - to come together and support young people of all ages in exploring their interests, developing their talents, discovering their passions, and charting their pathways into the future.
The Mayor's Chicago City of Learning initiative is a product of a powerful collaboration between civic and cultural institutions that care deeply about our great city and its young people:
Cities of Learning integrates the principles of Connected Learning, a learning approach that leverages the possibilities of the digital age to make learning more powerful and more relevant to the demands and opportunities of our time.
Connected Learning recognizes that learning doesn’t take place only inside classroom walls. In fact, learning is more durable when it is linked across a learner’s life. When young people connect in-school academics with out-of-school interests, find supportive social networks that encourage a hobby or skill, and create and produce real things in the real world, they can map out clear and personalized pathways forward into a productive and engaged future