The Chicago Jesuit Academy was founded in 2005 to support students from historically disinvested communities and is located on Chicago’s West Austin Neighborhood. The CJA currently provides a high-quality education to students who experience “extraordinary financial hardship yet show evidence of academic motivation and personal potential.” The school provides several supplemental learning activities such as summer programming, a healthy students program, a learning resource center, and more. The CJA will use funds to finance the renovation and expansion of a tuition-free charter school for students in the 3rd-8th grades in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood.
The project will more than double the number of students served from 167 male students to 384 male and female students. CJA decided to pursue the project after engaging with student’s parents and learning that it was challenging for low-income families to have to send their daughters to a different school due to CJA being a boy’s only academy. Additionally, the project will further CJA’s mission of promoting racial and social equity and economic opportunity as 100% of its student body is Black, Latino, or multi-racial. Further, the project will also enable CJA to expand its services to include young women, as CJA has been limited to young men in the past.
Creating this opportunity is expected to have a significantly positive impact on the female community in Austin, which currently harbors a 54.2% teen birth rate. Community Alignment: The Project is in direct alignment with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning Go to 2040 Comprehensive Regional Plan, which is meant to outline the vision for the community as articulated by its citizens. The project will construct a high-performing tuition-free charter school within a historically disinvested community with a high percentage of Black, Latino, and Multi-Racial residents. The poverty rate in Austin is 39.7% which is more than double the City of Chicago’s overall poverty rate of 18.4%. The project seeks to mitigate such racial and economic disparity as all students served are minority, 90% of students come from families at or below 80% the area median income, and 74% come from single-parent households. Further, the project will continue to support students as they progress through the education system through CJA’s College Persistence Programming that assists students both before, during and after high school.