Introducing Our Innovation Framework

The Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL) has become the pioneering in-district innovation zone since its founding in 2001. However, the seeds for its success were sowed almost 15 years earlier.



Board of Education Secretary in Chicago publicly labeled Chicago Public Schools as the worst in the nation. This sentiment sparked the modern urban school reform movement in Chicago.

The Mayor is given control over Chicago Public Schools. Legislation is passed that approves opening charter schools in Chicago.

The Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL) is founded and becomes the pioneering in-district innovation zone.

Civic-minded entrepreneur Martin Koldyke, alongside then CEO of Chicago Public Schools, Arne Duncan, saw this as an opportunity to affect real change in education by transforming educational outcomes for students in the lowest-performing schools, helping all students overcome systemic barriers and become contributing members of society—regardless of zip code and they wanted to do it from inside the Chicago Public Schools system.


Systemic lack of RESOURCES

Lack of comprehensive INSTRUCTION

Cycle of POVERTY



Focusing on these barriers as key levers of impact, AUSL established the nation’s first and most prolific urban teacher residency program in 2001.

The nation’s first residency program to train and develop teachers
Curriculum and coaching designed specifically for Chicago’s most at-risk communities
Residents spend one year training on-site under experienced mentor teachers within schools in these neighborhoods
Support continues after residency to continuously improve practice and ensure highly effective teaching and learning

However, AUSL recognized that transforming teacher talent alone wouldn’t suffice in improving educational outcomes for these students, so it expanded its scope and became the first non-profit organization in the country to contract with a large urban school district to transform the lowest-performing schools from inside the public school system.


*Using Chicago Public Schools’ School Quality Rating Policy system (AUSL School Results)


In 2014, 40% of AUSL-managed schools were in Good Standing while 17% required intensive support.

  • Level 1+
  • Level 1
  • Level 2+
  • Level 2
  • Level 3
  • Good Standing
  • Provisional Support
  • Intensive Support


As of 2017, AUSL now has 81% schools in Good Standing with Chicago Public Schools and no schools needing intensive support.

  • Level 1+
  • Level 1
  • Level 2+
  • Level 2
  • Level 3
  • Good Standing
  • Provisional Support
  • Intensive Support


These five pillars reflect how we help our students beat the challenges of their circumstances and thrive in their schools and communities.

Create highly effective teachers and leaders
We develop, place, and advance high-quality teachers and future leaders by providing targeted and scaffold-ed pathways
Transform school climate and culture
We ensure previously underperforming schools are safe, supportive, and diverse learning environments that enable each child to thrive academically and socially
Supporting the “whole child”
We build and sustain Pre-K through 12 academic, social-emotional, and extracurricular supports to enrich all aspects of student learning
Leading with data
We implement, nurture, and refine the data systems and culture to enhance how we serve our students.
Managing for continuous improvement
We evolve the leadership structure and relationships necessary to help the underserved populations succeed within large urban school systems