Sarah Elizabeth Ippel

BHSI Fellow Update: Sarah Elizabeth Ippel

Applications for the 2014 Bluhm-Helfand Social Innovation Fellowship are now open and over the next month, we’ll be profiling the social innovators, civic leaders and creative thinkers who make up the ranks of BHSI alum.  And if you’re a social entrepreneur 35 years old or younger with a civic venture that is helping re-shape our society for the better, apply to be a 2014 BHSI Fellow here.

2013 BHSI Fellow Sarah Elizabeth Ippel’s Academy for Global Citizenship (AGC) is a Chicago Public School—with a twist.  Here, she describes what AGC brings to the educational table and how CIW helped cement and expand the impact of the organization she founded and heads.

What is AGC’s mission and how does it differ from a traditional CPS elementary school?
A Chicago Public Elementary School on a global mission, AGC is developing the next generation of critical thinkers and mindful leaders who take action to positively impact their communities and the world beyond.

Since opening in 2008, AGC has become recognized across the globe for its innovation combined with rigorous academics and is currently developing the first net-positive energy prototype campus and urban farm on the city’s Southwest side. As an international learning laboratory, AGC is dedicated to open-sourcing its model.
What did you gain from your experience as a BHSI Fellow?

Sarah Elizabeth Ippel shared her vision for a re-imagined
public school education with the CIW 2013 audience.
Participating in the 2013 BHSI Fellowship was instrumental in the development and refinement of my blueprint for scaling innovation in education, which has led to the founding of a new technology platform and social enterprise venture.  REDU’s mission is to improve educational outcomes through the data-driven identification, evaluation and broader implementation of best practices in classrooms across the nation.
The Fellowship provided a wonderful avenue for both collaborating with fellow social entrepreneurs and engaging in critical dialogue with others who are grappling and succeeding with similar challenges pertaining to scale.  Further, we had the opportunity to meet with Chicago’s key business, civic and philanthropic leaders who, in combination with Leslie Bluhm and David Helfand, provided invaluable insights and strategic counsel that have profoundly impacted my vision for the future.  
The Chicago Ideas Week community and BHSI Fellowship experience left me feeling empowered, inspired and determined that collectively, we can create meaningful and lasting change in this world.
Tell us about your next steps.  What do you have planned for AGC in the coming year and how can the CIW community help?
I am currently seeking technical expertise to help architect a scalable technology-based platform for measuring outcomes associated with classroom innovations and synthesizing big data to drive decision making in schools across the globe.   Further, I am looking for a CTO and other team members, start-up legal expertise, technical advisors and angel investors.
What advice would you give future BHSI Fellows and CIW attendees to ensure they get the most out of Ideas Week?
Tuck your technology away and free up as much brain space as possible to explore new ideas with individuals representing a vast array of fields and interests.  Initiate conversations at every opportunity—whether the person sitting next to you in the theatre or standing in front of you in line. I have developed a myriad of fruitful relationships with those I met through sheer synchronicity at Chicago Ideas Week!
Q&As are edited for clarity and length.

Erin Robertson is managing editor at Chicago Ideas.

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