“To create the future, we must first imagine it.”


For several months, Schools That Can has been collaborating with local schools and nonprofits to rethink high school. In Chicago, Jenn Husbands of STC Chicago is working with Thrive Chicago, LEAP Innovations, Sullivan High School, and others to reimagine an innovative Sullivan model. In  Pittsburgh, Carol Wooten of STC Pittsburgh is working with Heinz Endowments and local schools to design a brand new school model. Both design teams have been selected as finalists to continue in the last phase of The XQ Super School project.

The XQ Super School project aims to unite the nation in ambitiously rethinking and redesigning what the American high school can and should look like. The competition to anyone from across the country, and more than 10,000 people – including educators, artists, engineers, business leaders, parents, and students – from 50 states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico rose to the challenge to work together to “change one of the largest public systems in the country”.

Of the 700 teams that submitted proposals designed to give bright-minded students access to the future they deserve, only 348 teams have advanced to the third and final development phase. XQ plans to partner with 5 winning teams, providing them expert support and $10M over the next five years to help turn their ideas into true super schools. Finalists were announced in early April and winners will be announced in August.



Sullivan High School, a collaborating school in the STC Chicago network, is a community high school in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago. For the XQ Project, Sullivan joined forces with the City of Chicago, Chicago Public Schools, Thrive ChicagoLEAP Innovations, STC Chicago, and other local nonprofits to reimagine Sullivan XQ – an open enrollment, neighborhood school serving students from one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the city with 41% Hispanic students, 39% African Americans, and 13% Asian students. Thirty four percent are English language learners that come from more than 35 countries speaking 20 unique languages. Sullivan’s students face particularly daunting challenges as many come to Chicago as refugees fleeing crime, war or poverty in their home country. Sullivan will empower scholars to contribute their ideas, labor, and passion to service by solving community problems.

Sullivan XQ is sequenced to help students understand themselves and then gradually expand their understanding to reach across the entire globe. Each year, scholars will engage in a problem-based learning class (PBLC) in which they will develop and share a plan to address a community problem. Freshman year will focus on self and will culminate with students presenting their identity, passion, and skills. As sophomores, they will expand their journey to their community, working to observe and address local issues. As Juniors, they will expand their community service to the national level, learning about and designing innovative solutions that they can bring back to Chicago. Seniors will research globally with international trips to better understand our interconnected world.

Read the Sun Times’ op-ed about Sullivan’s proposal here and the Chicago Public Schools’ press release about their project here



Pittsburgh is known for its innovation. Carnegie Mellon University and The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center are hotbeds of talent and innovation that have transformed Pittsburgh from a center for heavy manufacturing driven by steel to a robust 21st- century economy.  Unfortunately, this innovation is not equitably distributed and inclusive of all communities. The Rivers Cubed Academy XQ proposal aims to change that, breaking through district boundaries and allowing low-income youth to escape their failing schools and be supported in developing skills required by our new economy.

Rivers Cubed Academy is an inclusive and innovative model that aims to reimagine career and technical education for the 21st-century and support underserved student populations in leading choice-filled lives. The proposal incorporates academic rigor, 21st-century career development, and individualized instruction. Additionally, River Cubed will actively connect education to employment and provide transition support to students, helping them pursue one of two postsecondary pathways: the traditional high school to college to career route or the high school to career to college path.

The Rivers Cubed team consists of STC Pittsburgh, The Remake Learning Network, public officials, youth voice advocates, and educational policy and advocacy groups. The team is backed by The Heinz Endowments, a leading supporter of school reform addressing the achievement gap.


ABOUT XQ (From the XQ website)

The Super School Project launched in September 2015 as an open call to rethink and redesign the American high school. Thousands of applicants and tens of thousands of supporters from towns and cities across the country have united to take on this important work. Teams of students, teachers, parents, community leaders and many more came together to conceptualize innovative models for 21st-century learning and create a pathway to success for students. Since its launch, XQ has proven to be more than a challenge to create innovative high schools. It is a growing movement to reimagine what is possible for public education in America, and a hub for community voices, cutting edge ideas, and expert resources to make real change possible. For more information, visit www.xqsuperschool.org. Follow us at @XQAmerica


Both projects will be on display at the STC Forum on June 11. Participants from the Sullivan XQ team will be sharing their experiences on the “Transforming Your School With Deeper Learning” panel, and the Rivers Cubed team will discuss their process and ideas on the “Bridging the Education to Employment Gap” panel. Download the whole agenda here and register today!