Chicago International Education Incubator

Chicago needs new school models and education entrepreneurs. Leveraging the strengths of our unique structure, CICS launched the Chicago International Education Incubator designed to identify and support brilliant education entrepreneurs as they design, implement and bring new models to scale.

Chicago is full of talented, creative educators who too often lack the support needed to become successful school founders. By empowering these educators to launch new ventures as part of our unique portfolio of diverse learning models, CICS is actively working to create breakthroughs for our students, our schools, and the broader Chicago education ecosystem.

Innovation at CICS

Catalyzing the Next Wave of School Innovation in Chicago
Innovation Infographic

Incubate transformative new models.

The knowledge and skills of the past are no longer sufficient to prepare today’s students for the challenges of the future. We need to invest in the vision and talent of education entrepreneurs, turning trailblazing ideas into effective new education models.

Build an innovative ecosystem.

To ensure today’s students become the engaged citizens of tomorrow, we need to encourage and support wide-scale innovation by sharing and replicating our successful models throughout the education system in Chicago and beyond.

Strengthen the capacity of existing schools to continuously innovate and improve.

To take root, meaningful change needs to be designed by the school community for the school community, leveraging a wealth of education innovation knowledge, resources and insights.

Education Innovation Ventures

The Chicago International Education Incubator supports three types of education innovation ventures, each led by an Education Entrepreneur Fellow:

School Transformation Ventures

CICS will incubate new ventures to take over control of low-performing campuses - charter and district - through identification of an education entrepreneur. This new leader will launch a new organization for that campus, driving change management and innovation-focused school-model transformation. The Fellowship includes one year of design and formal planning in-residence, with a strong priority placed on engaging the existing school community in the process, followed by one year of high-leverage support while the Fellow initiates the school transformation.

Fresh Start Ventures

A Fellow will launch a brand-new CMO to lead a campus within - or potentially outside - the CICS network. This Fellowship, lasting for 18 months, will provide the selected education leader with the resources and supports needed for successful launch and scaling up of the new school.

Micro-Lab Ventures

A Fellow will design and launch a new school model with a cohort of 25 students at either an existing CICS campus (i.e., a school-within-a-school), or at a Micro-School campus that CICS is planning to open for SY 2020-21.  This Fellowship has a formal duration of 6 months.


School Year 2018-19

School Year 2019-20

School Year 2020-21

Total Seats Served

School Transformation Ventures

2 new ventures begin incubation

2 Transformation Ventures receive Yr. 1 support


2,500 seats transformed

Fresh Start Ventures


2 Fresh Start Ventures begin incubation

2 Fresh Start Ventures launch; Fellows continues to receive support

120 seats in SY 2020-21; will grow to 2,000 seats at full scale

Micro-Lab Ventures

Boys Lab launched; 4 new Micro-Lab ventures begin incubation

4 Micro-Lab Ventures launch; 6 new Micro-Lab Ventures begin incubation

6 Micro-Lab ventures launch

250 total seats; each Micro-Lab serves 25 students per year

Education Entrepreneur Fellowship

To identify brilliant education entrepreneurs and support them as they launch innovative new school models and organizations that redesign the learning environment, CICS has created its Education Entrepreneur Fellowship. As each Education Entrepreneur Fellow envisions, tests, refines and implements new models of school, they receive a customized program of support designed to position them to successfully design, launch and execute a school of the future, including: Capital, Coaching, Cohort, Community, Connections, and Curriculum.

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