College and Career Success

College and Career Success

We’re building programs that make sure every CPS student graduates with a plan for their future, prepared for postsecondary persistence, and poised for career success.

We need to change how we think about what it means to be a high school graduate. A diploma alone isn’t enough anymore.

Pedro MartinezChief Executive Officer for Chicago Public Schools

Alumni Support and Scholarships

CPS is dedicated to preparing every student for success in college, but many families are unprepared for the costs, and that can put college out of reach for many low-income students. Scholarships help offset those costs and make college possible for students from all income levels.

CPS students have been earning more scholarship dollars every year. In 2018, seniors earned more than $1.3 billion in scholarship offers. That’s $90 million more than in 2016. In 2010, the college enrollment rate of CPS students was 53.7 percent. Today, we’ve reached a new record of 64.6 percent enrollment. That’s a more than 10-percent improvement in less than a decade.

College enrollment among CPS students is on the rise, but so is the cost of tuition, and persistent income-based gaps in enrollment must be addressed. No student should be denied a college education solely because they can’t afford it.

Postsecondary Spotlight: The Chicago Roadmap

The Chicago Roadmap is an unprecedented partnership between CPS and City Colleges of Chicago to support students along a seamless path to and through college on the way to their chosen careers.

Through the Chicago Roadmap, CPS and City College of Chicago (CCC) are transforming their relationship from a successful collaboration to full convergence. By expanding access to high-quality programs, advising and supports, the Chicago Roadmap strives to dramatically and equitably increase student outcomes in college readiness, college enrollment, college persistence, college degree attainment and employment.

The Chicago Roadmap helps college-bound students transition into City Colleges of Chicago through programs that help students earn college credit, improve academic readiness, and learn about career opportunities. Below you’ll find more information about the programs offered through the Chicago Roadmap.

The Chicago Roadmap is made possible thanks, in part, to generous philanthropic contributions made to the Children First Fund: The Chicago Public Schools Foundation, with special thanks to Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Bluhm Family Foundation, CME Group Foundation, Crown Family Philanthropies, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Joyce Foundation, Kathy Bolhous Foundation, Lefkofsky Family Foundation, and Salesforce Foundation. Thank you!


Today’s workforce requires a new set of skills, and CPS is making sure all of our students graduate with the tools to succeed. In 2016, CPS became the largest school district to implement a Computer Science (CS) graduation requirement. This ambitious initiative equips every high school student with the foundational CS skills they need to keep all doors open to them in an increasingly digital world.

Since 2016, approximately 75 percent of CPS schools have implemented one or more CS classes. 47 percent of students in the class of 2020 and 65 percent of students in the class of 2021 have completed or are currently enrolled in an approved CS course.

The CS4All initiative is supported by the following partners: the CME Group Foundation, Charitable Giving Fund of Tides Foundation, The Learning Partnership, DePaul University, Loyola University, UChicago, IIT, Robert Morris, UIC, UMass Boston; Exploring Computer Science (ECS), Project GUTS, Bootstrap, CS Principals,, Microsoft, IL Technology Foundation, NCWIT, and STARS Alliance. Thank you!

Our economy is rapidly shifting, and both educators and business leaders are increasingly recognizing the computer science (CS) a ‘new basic’ skill necessary for economic opportunity and social mobility.

White House Blog (Smith, 2016)

Early College Credit

College may seem far away, but CPS students can start earning college credits before they graduate high school. Advanced Placement (AP) courses, International Baccalaureate (IB) programs, and Dual-Credit or Dual-Enrollment classes allow CPS students to earn college credits for free while engaging with advanced course materials.

In 2017 and 2018, CPS was named College Board AP District of the Year. Not only is CPS the largest school district to ever receive the honor, it is also the first district to earn the title two years in a row. In the 2017/2018 school year, 43.4 percent of graduating seniors earned early college and career credentials, and in 2018/2019, CPS is on track to hit 50 percent.

We are grateful to the City Colleges of Chicago and Equal Opportunity Schools for being invaluable partners in this initiative.

Early College STEM Schools

CPS’s Early College STEM Schools provide students with the skills to create, build and engineer in the 21st century. By 2019, Illinois will offer a total of 319,820 STEM jobs, up from 266,900 in 2008. 93 percent of those jobs will require postsecondary education and training.

At Early College STEM Schools, college partners provide a rigorous education in science, technology, engineering, and math, and professional partners like Microsoft and Cisco Systems provide job shadowing, internships, and site visits to show students how their in-class education are applied outside of school.

CPS currently operates eight Early College STEM Schools. Each offers work-based experiential learning, access to labs and maker’s spaces, and early college credit, all designed to prepare CPS students for lucrative STEM careers.

Early College STEM School partners include City Colleges of Chicago, Salesforce, DePaul University, Motorola Solutions Foundation, Microsoft, IBM, Cisco, Verizon, Rush University Medical Center, Creating IT Futures Foundation, and Lumity. Thank you!

Career and Technical Education (CTE)

CPS is preparing students for careers in high-growth industries through Career and Technical Education programs. CTE programs use both classroom and field experiences to introduce students to one of the following 12 industries:

  • Agriculture & Horticulture
  • Business
  • Construction & Architecture
  • Culinary & Hospitality
  • Education & Training
  • Health Science
  • Information Technology
  • Media & Communication Arts
  • Law & Public Safety
  • Manufacturing & Pre-Engineering
  • Personal Care Services
  • Transportation

CTE’s work-based learning opportunities allow students to get a head-start on their careers, applying their in-class education in professional settings through job-shadowing, site visits, and paid summer internships. With those experiences, students can earn industry-recognized certifications while developing applicable skills and positive work habits.

CTE industry partners include, Fifth Third Bank, Advocate Trinity Hospital, Lurie Children’s Hospital,  Boys & Girls Club, Chicago Commons, Chicago Park District, Chicago Transit Authority, Chicago Yacht Club, Cook County Treasurer, Elevate Energy, Gerber Collision and Glass, Globetrotters Engineering Corporation, HMPRG, Illinois College of Optometry, Illinois Restaurant Association, Little People Day Care and Kindergarten, Mercy Hospital, Mount Sinai Health System, Northwestern Memorial Healthcare, Pearl’s Place Restaurant, Presence Saint Francis Hospital, Presence Saint Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center, Rush University Medical Center, South Shore Hospital, SodexoMAGIC, Aramark, JPMorgan Chase, Michael Reese Health Trust, PepsiCo and Peoples Gas. Thank you!

CTE allows us to provide very unique programming that students can’t get anywhere else.

Peter Auffant, Principal of Mather High School, which offers a pre-law CTE program

CTE Spotlight: Chicago Builds

Until 2016, if a student wanted to learn a trade, they had to attend a specialized trade school, often far away from their neighborhood. That changed when labor unions, construction firms, and various other construction-industry partners joined CPS to launch Chicago Builds, a school-based trade program that offers two years of training in the fundamentals of construction. Through Chicago Builds, students gain access to internships, specialized career-pathway courses, entrance-exam prep for apprenticeships, industry-recognized certifications, and a post-secondary plan for career success.

Chicago Builds partners include McCormick Place, Peoples Gas, General Construction Firms, Regional Council of Carpenters, IBEW Local 134, IUOE Local 150, Laborers’ District Council, Pipefitters’ Local 597 and CISCO. Thank you!

CTE Spotlight: Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences

The only school of its kind in the Midwest, the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences offers early college education in agricultural sciences and business for urban students. Students can choose from pathways including Animal Science, Horticulture, Food Science and Technology, Agricultural Mechanics and Technology, Agricultural Finance and Economics, and Biotechnology in Agriculture.

The Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences is supported and guided by the Agricultural Council, whose 75 members represent local businesses, community organizations, politicians, colleges, and universities, all of whom have a vested interest in protecting and promoting the Greater Chicago Area’s food and agriculture groups.

CHSAS’s industry partners include Archer Daniels, CNH International, Eli’s Cheesecake, Cook County Farm Bureau, 19th Ward, and University of Illinois. Thank you!

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