Mission & History

Chicago International Charter School (CICS) was founded on the belief that every child has the right to a high quality education. The mission of CICS is:

To provide, through innovation and choice, an attractive and rigorous college-preparatory education that meets the needs of today’s students.

In 1997, CICS was founded by a group of business leaders who recognized the lack of high quality, college preparatory elementary and high schools in Chicago, and saw the new Illinois charter school law as an opportunity for positive change. They determined that they would work in collaboration with one or more school management organizations (SMOs) to manage day-to-day school operations. Over the past 17 years, CICS has developed a unique K-12 portfolio model, partnering with SMOs to offer different educational approaches best suited to each community we serve and providing centralized administrative services that allow school staff to focus on scholars. The CICS portfolio model is an academic value-add to scholars, is financially efficient, and has proven scalable through district approved expansion over time.

Within our 14 campuses we serve over 8,000 scholars from kindergarten through high school in the city of Chicago. CICS has a student population composed of 96% ethnic minorities. Of our population, 66% are African American, 25% are Hispanic, 4% are Caucasian, 2% are Asian/Pacific Islander and 1% are multi-racial, with 86% coming from low income households. We work in under-resourced urban communities where families with children have few high quality educational options. We believe that educating the “whole child” through rigorous curricula and wraparound services provides scholars with the skills necessary to navigate the college application process, furthers their ability to be admitted to college, and supports success after graduating.

Despite operating in some of the districts’ most complex neighborhoods, in our elementary school campuses that have been open for three or more years, the achievement gap between CICS scholars and a national sample has been closed. Similarly, our high school campuses continue to show significant achievement gains as demonstrated through high school graduation and college acceptance rates that are higher than comparable non-selective district schools. Using the Illinois State Board of Education school report card data and methodology, the 5-year weighted average graduation rate for CICS scholars is 93% compared to 84% for Chicago Public Schools overall and 91% of 2016 CICS graduates who applied to college were accepted.

Apply Today

Enrollment in Chicago International Charter School is open to all students, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, or disability status. For more information, visit our applications page.

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