Archive for category Education

Eli’s Cheesecake “Takes the Cake” at NRA Show 2013

Eli’s Cheesecake has been exhibiting at the National Restaurant Show (NRA Show) from the very first show in 1985.  It is very exciting and rewarding to connect with our customers, friends and business associates.  With over 60 years in the food service industry, we are proud of our heritage and happy to serve our customers with the high quality desserts decorated by hand and made with the finest ingredients.

This year, we introduced trendy cheesecake flavors like Honey Mediterranean made with toasted pistachios and almonds and Chocolate Espresso as well as classics with a twist like Vanilla Bean Cheesecake and Key Lime Pie Cheesecake.  We added Eli’s-to-Go pre-packaged cheesecakes in different shapes, rounds and squares, to complement our current triangular shape slices.  We are more than just cheesecake!  New mini pies and hand held pies available in assorted flavors made their debut at the show.   For more information, food service distributors and operators are invited to our new foodservice industry website http://foodservice.elicheesecake.com/  

This year, Senator Durbin visited our NRA booth!   Here is more information about Senator Durbin’s visit to the NRA Show: http://www.restaurant.org/News-Research/News/Sen-Durbin-visits-2013-NRA-Show.  What a delightful and welcome visit!

We also were honored to have Mrs. Judd of Mrs. Judd’s Games join us as she launched the release of Space Cakes – Kids Bakery Game with Math and Numbers, sponsored by The Eli’s Cheesecake Company.  The Space Cakes bakery is filled with alien ingredients, fantastic frosting, and an array of space toppers from across the galaxy. After children create unique treats using an awareness of counting, numbers, and geometry, they prepare for take-off and steer their cake delivery spaceship back to Earth.  Space Cakes also incorporates Mrs. Judd’s Games groundbreaking Juddly™ sharing network, enabling kids to safely deliver in-game creations right to the inboxes of their parents and teachers back on earth.   

Students from Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences (CHSAS) shared their honey story on with the attendees.  CHSAS is one of the few urban agricultural high schools in the country.   Eli’s new Honey Mediterranean Cheesecakes is made with honey from CHSAS.  A surprise visitor, Celebrity Chef Judson Todd Allen, stopped by the booth and met with the students.  He is a CHSAS graduate!  We also appreciate the generosity of Chef Works to these student ambassadors.

We thank our foodservice customers and friends for all of your support!  We look forward to another exciting NRA Show in 2014!

Mrs. Judd’s Games partners with Eli’s Cheesecake Co. to launch “Space Cakes” App

Groundbreaking partnership ensures game is available for free to children worldwide

Mrs. Judd’s Games is thrilled to announce the release of its 11th educational app, Space Cakes – Kids Bakery Game with Math and Numbers, and an exciting new partnership with the world famous, and Chicago-based, Eli’s Cheesecake CoSpace Cakes takes kids across the galaxy to a far-away stellar space bakery, as it seeks to ignite their passion for 3D geometry, number play, and fun with math. The upfront partnership with Eli’s marks a breakthrough in the early education app developer’s model, making it possible to offer families and classrooms top-rated educational games 100% free, as well as to focus on the creation of unique, educational, and fun mobile game experiences instead of monetization strategies.

The Space Cakes bakery is filled with alien ingredients, fantastic frosting, and an array of space toppers from across the galaxy. After children create unique treats using an awareness of counting, numbers, and geometry, they prepare for take-off and steer their cake delivery spaceship back to Earth. Space Cakes also incorporates Mrs. Judd’s Games groundbreaking Juddly™ sharing network, enabling kids to safely deliver in-game creations right to the inboxes of their parents and teachers back on earth.

This marks Eli’s first foray into the world of educational app development. According to Eli’s president, Marc Schulman, a long time supporter of education through the company’s involvement with the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences, Wright College, and the College of Agriculture, at the University of Illinois, “This was a perfect way to integrate our brand into the world of education.  Both Eli’s and Mrs. Judd’s Games appreciate and understand the importance of introducing the common core curriculum to children at a young age, as well as the role food plays as a center of community.  Space Cakes is the right vehicle to educate and promote family connections by keeping parents in the loop.”

Eli’s will debut the new app at the National Restaurant Association Show:   Eli’s Cheesecake Booth #1425 at Chicago’s McCormick Place, May 18-21. Show attendees will be able to play “Space Cakes” on a big screen and  enter for a chance to win a real Eli’s Space Cake, shipped anywhere in the continental US.

Mrs. Judd’s Games apps are free on the iTunes App Store and are ideal for children ages 4 through 8.

Mrs. Judd and Marc Schulman will be available for interview throughout the NRA Show, May 18 through May 20 from 9:00am-5:00pm

For more information contact: Maureen Schulman at The Eli’s Cheesecake Company

Eli's Cheesecake Presents Space Cakes

 

Sweet Like Honey: Eli’s Cheesecake and Chicago High School for Agriculture Sciences

Since 1991, Eli’s Cheesecake Company has partnered with the Chicago School of Agriculture Sciences (CHSAS) providing job shadowing, mentor programs and internships.  We are very proud to be featured along with CHSAS in the National Honey Board’s article “Baking with Honey” http://www.bakingwithhoney.com/news/2013/01/17/sweet-like-honey-elis-cheesecake-chsas-partnership-stronger-than-ever/

Eli’s Wildflower Honey Cheesecake is made with honey harvested by CHSAS.  The CHSAS students harvest, prepare and bottle their wildflower honey for this product providing Eli’s with approximately 2,000 pounds of honey annually.   All proceeds from purchasing the honey and a portion of the proceeds from the Wildflower Honey Cheesecakes sales go to the CHSAS’s college scholarship fund for seniors.   If you are interested in more information about Eli’s Wildflower Honey Cheesecake and a video about the  CHSAS honey, click here http://shop.elicheesecake.com/product/cheesecake_honey

Eli's Wildflower Honey Cheesecake made with honey from CHSAS

 

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Saijyo Agricultural High School Visits Eli’s Cheesecake

On December 19th, Eli’s Cheesecake was visited by representatives of the Saijyo Agricultural High School from Hiroshima, Japan  as part of their visit to Chicago and the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences. Yoshrinori Tatsukami, the Principal, and Katsuhiro Ishii, the Agriculture Teacher and Chief of the Super Science High School came to Eli’s with Bill Hook, Principal and Sheila Fowler, the Agriculture Department Chair at CHSAS. They toured Eli’s Bakery with Mike Neuhaus and then were able to meet with Jeff Anderson. We were delighted with Mr. Tastsuakmi’s comment that visiting Eli’s Cheesecake was like the dream he had of America when he growing up: cookies baking in the kitchen by smiling family members. All of us at Eli’s are pleased that he was able to see our dedication to quality and service.

After their visit to Eli’s, the representatives from Saijvo were recognized at a meeting of the Board of the Chicago Public Schools. They also were able to tour the Farm and Agricultural Education Facilities at Illinois State University.

The Saijyo Agricultural High School is 102 years old and has 808 students. It has the goal to become the number 1 agricultural high school in Japan while emphasizing both basic and high level technical education while attracting students who have high aspirations, the spirit of challenge, affection to life and want to make a major contribution to society. Certainly a mission very akin to the work at the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences.

 

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Opening of the Illinois Center for Urban Agricultural Education at the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences is Highlighted in Illinois Ag Ed

All of us at Eli’s Cheesecake are very proud of our long time support and partnership with the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences. A major step in the development of the programs at the school was the opening of the Illinois Center for Urban Agricultural Education at CHSAS, a program of the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and headed by Corey Flournoy.

We were delighted to see the opening of the Center profiled in Illinois Ag Ed, a publication of the College of Agriculture, Consumer & Environmental Sciences.

 

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Eli’s/Wright College’s Farmer’s Market to host Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences Graduation and the Illinois Dept. of Agriculture

Eli’s Cheesecake and Wright College were happy to host the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences’ graduation.  We were also paid a special visit from the Illinois Department of Agriculture.  They are in the process of launching a new product logo and mission, “Buy Illinois”.  Eli’s was one of five Illinois-based businesses asked to host a launch party for the new logo.  Our farmer’s market was also visited by Nissan and the new Nissan Leaf. 

 

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Graduation Day 2012 at the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences

Friday,  June 8th was  Graduation Day for the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences. This most  special day of the year at the school was highlighted by the speaker,  Tom Vilsack, the US Secretary of Agriculture. As stated by the Secretary in his remarks which follow, “Agriculture Matters” and it was a message clearly understood by the graduates who have learned so much about food, agriculture and science during their four years at the school.

(l-r) Angelica Lee, Abriel Brooks, Corey Flourony and President Designate Robert Easter of the University of Illinois

This was an important year at the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences as it marked the opening of the Illinois Center for Urban Agricultural Education headed by Corey Flournoy, a CHSAS graduate and the first African American to head the National FFA Organization. This program of the College of Agriculture, Consumer & Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign is unique in the country as it brings the resources of Illinois’ land grant university to the school and gives students more support for their studies in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) while at CHSAS and exposing them to the careers available in food and agriculture.

The opening of the Center would not have been possible without the strong support and endorsement of Robert Easter, the President Designate of the University of Illinois and the former Dean of the College of ACES. It was therefore fitting that at the reception before the graduation, Corey introduced Angelica Lee and Abriel Brooks, members of the Class of 2012 who will be attending the College of ACES  as recipients of the Aaron Easter Scholarship given in the memory of President Designate Easter’s son, by The Eli’s Cheesecake Company.

 

US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack joins University of Illinois President Designate Robert Easter and Eli’s President Marc Schulman in congratulating Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences graduates Angelica Lee and Abriel Brooks who will be attending the College of Agriculture, Consumer & Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign as recipients of the Aaron Easter Memorial Scholarship donated by The Eli’s Cheesecake Company.

 

Before the Commencement Ceremony, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack toured the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences with members of the Class of 2012 and was able to see  the career paths offered at the school: Animal Sciences, Ag-Mechanics, Horticulture, Ag Finance and Food Science.

Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young, the Assistant Administrator of the Agricultural Research Service at the USDA accompanied Secretary Vilsack to the Commencement and delivered Closing Remarks to the graduates. Above Ms. Jacobs-Young congratulates members of the “Top Ten” of the Class of 2012.

The Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences is a magnet school that attracts over 3,000 applicants each year for its 120 positions. In their four years at CHSAS, students get exposure to each of the career paths and then get to specialize in their junior and senior years. Graduates receive their diplomas with the members of their career path.

Co-Chairs of the Business Advisory Board for CHSAS, John Volk, Marc Schulman and Rouhy Shalabi congratulate Assistant Principal Lucille Shaw and special guest, Chavonda Jacobs-Young, the Assistant Administrator for the Agricultural Research Service at the US Department of Agriculture.

Release No. 0187.12
Contact:
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Secretary Tom Vilsack Commencement Remarks to Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences
June 8, 2012
As Prepared for DeliveryGood afternoon and thank you for the invitation to join you today.

As you all know well, the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences is a unique institution with an innovative premise. It stands as a testament to the fact that agriculture is a critical element in the lives of every American – in our greatest cities as much as in our small towns and rural communities.

It’s representative of the progress we can make when leaders come together from the education, government, and business communities to craft a unique experience for our young people.

It’s a school that already has produced premier agriculture leaders, many of whom are here with us. And today we have another distinguished group of young people who are sure to be some of our great thinkers, innovators, and builders.

I was very excited when I was told I had the opportunity to give the commencement address here in Chicago. A number of people I know have had great experiences visiting this institution.

Our USDA Deputy Secretary, Kathleen Merrigan, greatly enjoyed her visit here. Education Secretary Duncan has been here during his years of distinguished service leading the Chicago Public Schools. He has mentioned the time a calf was born here – and then I came to find out that I just missed the new filly who was born here recently. How many high schools have fillies and calves walking around? I would guess relatively few.

At any rate, I’m excited to be here today. I am eager to give you a simple – but an important – reminder that I hope will cap off your experience here. But first I would like to briefly recognize some of the others here today.

First, to Principal Hook, to the administration, and to the teachers – thank you. A quality education is so important to the lives of young people. Today is a time to remember how many lives you’ve touched – and how many people you have helped.

Second, I want to recognize the parents, the grandparents, the aunts and uncles, and all of the other family members here today. The success of the graduates is a testament to your commitment as family – to supporting, loving, and caring for them. Today is your day, too.

Now, on to the graduates. I have a simple reminder for you all here today – that agriculture matters.

Agriculture matters. Agriculture is more relevant than ever to the challenges our country faces today. It is central to our values as Americans. No matter where you go, or what you do, it will only become more significant in your lives as you grow older.

When you pick up the paper or read the blogs today, this might not be immediately clear. Agriculture issues aren’t clearly defined for folks. For the 98 percent of Americans who aren’t living on the farm or ranch, agriculture isn’t always the topic of conversation around the dinner table.

Of course, your experience was different. How many parents here in Chicago can ask their kids what they did at school, and be told, “I milked a cow today”? Probably not many.

But I’m afraid you’re the exception in this regard. Many Americans don’t understand the value of agriculture to their lives. They don’t know that 1 in 12 American jobs are tied to the agriculture sector.

There are even some out there who think that you should be concerned with other endeavors, not with agriculture, if they want to do great things.

But when you pick up that paper or read the news today – it’s true that you might not see a front page analysis of the latest corn seed research or a new, cutting edge horticulture technology. You probably won’t see a profile on a farmer whose conservation work is revolutionizing watershed management, providing clean water for folks in cities like Chicago. Chances are you won’t read about a startup anaerobic digester that’s turning waste into an advanced form of energy.

But you do see stories, every day, that signal a complex, changing world. A globalizing marketplace. A growing world population. A changing climate. Challenges like obesity, hunger, and a lack of access to healthy foods. Complex political challenges in other nations. And our own continuing questions about what should define our nation and our American values.

Agriculture is highly relevant to each of these, and it will only become more relevant in your lifetimes. Let me give you three reasons why.

First is the obvious – we all need food. Today, we have more than 6 billion people on our planet and 925 million of those people are malnourished.

Now think about the world’s population, which is expected to grow to 8 billion, or 9 billion, or 10 billion over the course of your lives. Just to meet the demand that’s already there, we have to increase food productivity by 70 percent.

Meanwhile, we have fewer farmers. Today, about 2 percent of Americans are on the farm or ranch. The age of the average farmer today is right about my age. But the challenge of growing enough food to feed the world is no longer somehow just a rural challenge. We’re all addressing it together.

I’m guessing that some of you didn’t have a background in agriculture when you started here. You didn’t grow up on a farm. But you saw opportunity in agriculture, and that’s what brought you here.

This is a phenomenon that’s taking hold around the nation: in rural areas, the suburbs, and even big cities like Chicago, young people are getting interested in agriculture. And this makes me tremendously hopeful.

Farmers today are on the outskirts of Chicago growing fresh fruits and vegetables to supply the city. I even think of people right here in Chicago who are farming urban lots to feed their community. Future Farmers of America now has chapters in 18 of America’s 20 largest cities, including the chapter you all belong to here.

In agriculture, our strength is in our diversity — farms of all different sizes, crops and business models. And that diversity means you can dream big. Maybe someday, you’ll be the researcher who unlocks the genetics for a drought-resistant seed that can feed more people on the same ground. You might become a leader in animal nutrition, helping to find the right quantities and qualities for the best new feed. You could be the one who develops the supply chain that connects farmers and consumers – whether that’s a global supply chain, or one to bring Illinois-grown products to Chicago.

Now, these challenges, and these opportunities, aren’t ours alone. They’re something we share with our partners around the world. Right now, America is the breadbasket of the world.

We’re in the midst of the three best years of agricultural exports in our nation’s history. And through some of the work we’re doing in the government and with nonprofit and business folks, we’re able to share the bounty of our own nation with folks who need it around the world.

When people have enough food, it doesn’t just improve their lives or the lives of their families. It’s good for the security of their nation and for ours. When people get food aid from the United States – when they see the flag of the United States of America on their food – they understand that we want to help. And particularly for people your age and younger – kids in school in the poorer parts of the world – they’re going to grow up with an understanding that America is a country that wants to help them, not hurt them.

So you might be a nutritionist who’s helping to find the right vitamins and minerals to help those young people grow. Or the conservationist who helps a developing nation protect its soil and increase its own yields. Maybe you’ll work with foreign governments who need help and advice to feed their people.

It’s very clear that our ability to feed people is going to have major implications on our future. And to get the job done, we’re going to rely on a new breed of graduates who can bridge the gap between rural and urban America.

We certainly need you if you want to farm. But if you’re about to go to college to study the sciences, if you want to go into business, if you want to learn how the markets work, if you want to go to law school someday – we still need you to help feed the world.

# # #

With this in mind, agriculture doesn’t just matter because we need to feed everyone. In fact, it’s not just about food. Agriculture matters because it’s the foundation of an entirely new economy.

You’ve probably heard the common saying over the years – that we get “food, fuel and fiber” from the land. I would dare to take that a step further – these days, it’s not just limited to food, fuel and fiber.

It’s about an entirely new round of bio-based products that will define a new global economy that’s rooted more squarely in the land than ever before.

I’ve had the opportunity to travel around the country, visiting with researchers, many of whom are college students not much older than you, about the tremendous advances being made in producing the things we need from crops grown here at home.

We have companies like Coca-Cola rolling out cutting edge bio-based bottles. We have researchers who are designing new, green building materials from plant-based products. I’ve even met people who creating a form of asphalt out of pig manure.

The bio-based economy will also reduce our dependence even further on foreign oil – oil that’s imported from countries who don’t like us very much. Over the course of three years as Secretary, I’ve witnessed phenomenal progress in America’s energy security. Just a few years ago, we were still importing more than 60 percent of our oil into the United States. But – thanks to a variety of steps, but certainly including the investments we have made into new biofuels – the United States is now importing less than half its oil.

At USDA we’re making record investments in research and innovation. President Obama and I are calling on Congress to help by reauthorizing tax credits for innovators who want to create jobs here at home. We know how critical it will be for America to be energy secure in the coming decades. But we need your ideas, too.

We’re going to need engineers to devise the next tools for refining biomass. We’re going to need mechanics to build those machines. We’re going to need people who know marketing, who can present the good work we’re doing here in America and convince the world that they need to get on board too.

We’re just starting to understand the potential of bio-based products and advanced biofuels. We’re just starting to ask the next round of tough questions about our energy. Agriculture matters in answering those questions today. And you will be part of the answer, too.

# # #

Finally, and equally as important, agriculture matters because it is the foundation of our value system as a nation.

150 years ago last month – on May 15, 1862 – President Lincoln sat down in the midst of a bloody, tragic civil war. And even as he was struggling to bring together a union, the president found it important to sign a piece of legislation creating the Department of Agriculture.

Things were different back then. Almost half of Americans lived on the farm. We were a nation built on the strength of our farmers and ranchers, by great leaders who were themselves farmers. We were an agrarian nation.

Maybe that’s why, a couple of years later, Lincoln was giving his final address to Congress and noted that he considered USDA “the Peoples’ Department.” He didn’t just say this because so many Americans were on the farm, although that was part of it.

President Lincoln understood that our values as a nation are rooted in agriculture – that the work ethic which defines our agriculture sector has always defined the spirit of our nation.

Over the past four years, you’ve gained a unique understanding for the tremendous power of the land. You’ve seen what our natural resources can do for us, if we treat them right. You’ve learned a value that so many generations of American farmers and ranchers have carried with them: We can’t just take from the land. We have to give back.

The same is true for a nation. You can’t take from a nation, without giving back. You can’t take home for granted. You can’t assume that someone else is going to step up.

Folks who work in agriculture know this. That’s why our farmers and ranchers are the leading stewards of our natural resources. And maybe it’s why we have more than 6 million American veterans – a disproportionate amount – living in rural areas where agriculture plays a prominent role.

Folks who are raised in agriculture or exposed to it in their education learn that you have to replenish the land that gives you your livelihood. You have to renourish it. And when you do, you learn that it’s a bargain between people and the land.

It’s a give-and-take. You can’t be selfish, and you can’t concentrate solely on what will benefit you in the short term. That’s central to our value system as a country. It’s something we can’t forget.

And whatever field of work you go into, you’re going to take the experiences from this school with you. Maybe you’ll be in the next generation of agricultural educators, imparting this value system for the next generation. Maybe you’ll even start your own agriculture science high school somewhere in America.

So while values aren’t tangible things, and so often are left out of the discussion when it comes to agriculture, know that you haven’t just learned how to grow crops. You haven’t just learned how to show a calf. You haven’t just learned about horticulture, about life sciences, about all of the ag-related technology that will carry you so far in your careers. You’ve learned where our values as a nation are rooted. Agriculture matters to those, too.

So today, I want you to remember that you have done something truly special. Four years ago, you came here to the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences for different reasons. And now, today, you’ll walk away with a high school degree that says “agriculture” on it. That’s certainly unique for a high school diploma. And it’s going to set you apart. It matters deeply.

We need people to carry on this tradition of agricultural education, and make sure every American has an opportunity to pursue their dreams. President Obama is working to help, extending Pell Grants to 3 million more students, signing a tax credit worth up to $10,000 for middle class families for help with tuition, and calling on Congress to keep interest rates low on student loans.

Ultimately, we need you to carry the banner of agriculture forward. I want to leave you with a challenge. Know that you are the next generation of leaders in the agriculture sector – which will be one of the most critical in the decades to come.

You have an unprecedented chance to help Americans understand the value of the American agriculture sector. You have an exciting future where you not just can reshape agriculture, not just pioneer new scientific breakthroughs, not just start new businesses.

You have the capacity to reshape the economy, so that it’s sustainable, environmentally friendly, creates jobs, and brings renewed faith and hope to rural parts of this country. You have that power. Use it. Understand that no matter what you do, you are an ambassador for American agriculture and for all the good that it stands for.

Folks, agriculture matters. You matter. You’re going to do great things because you have some very special, very unique insights. You’ve been given experiences by the folks here that will serve you throughout your lives. Use them – we’re counting on you. America is counting on you.

Thank you.

 

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Eli’s Cheesecake of Chicago Recognizes a TCTC Completer

 

Eli's Cheesecake supports TCTC Completer

 

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Eli’s Cheesecake Named Winner of the Concordia University Chicago President’s Corporate Neighbor Award

 

 

Concordia University Chicago is pleased to announce that The Eli’s Cheesecake Company will receive the President’s Corporate Neighbor Award through the University’s 2012 Community Awards for Excellence in Learning and Leadership program, which also will honor Federico d’Escoto and Rick Tanksley of Oak Park..

Established in 2003, the Community Awards for Excellence recognize extraordinary contributions by individuals and organizations in Chicago’s suburbs to community leadership, education and humanitarianism.

The President’s Corporate Neighbor Award:

The Eli’s Cheesecake Company

The Eli’s Cheesecake Company is recipient of the President’s Corporate Neighbor Award for its exceptional community leadership and outreach, most notably its educational and community partnerships. Founded by Eli Schulman, the organization now produces more than 20,000 cheesecakes daily. Currently, Marc S. Schulman is president of the company, which has been a Chicago staple for decades.

Eli’s is committed to supporting the Chicago Public Schools, with Marc Schulman as a long time supporter of the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences (CHSAS) and is co-chair of its Business Advisory Board. This past summer, Wright College and Eli’s jointly sponsored a Summer Sustainable Agriculture Program for students of CHSAS.

 Eli’s and Wright College maintain educational and community partnerships that includes a series of classes for Eli’s associates in areas including food safety and business writing. The organizations also jointing sponsor a weekly farmer’s market during the summer.

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Eli’s Marc Schulman and Students and Staff from the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences Attend “For Democracy’s Future:Education Reclaims our Civic Mission” Forum at the White House

 

The “For Democracy’s Future: Education Reclaims Our Civic Mission” Forum was held at the White House on January 10th. The event brought together higher education and k-12 leaders as well as policy makers and stakeholders to discuss the importance of civic learning and engagement in democracy for the 21st century.

Representing the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences at the White House Forum was Principal William Hook,  Lucille Shaw and Sheila Fowler, current students Alex Villerreal and Bobbie Briggs and graduate, Dantrell Cotton, now a student at the University of Wisconsin. Cotton was on a panel at the Forum with Molly Jahn, Professor of Agronomy and Genetics at Wisconsin speaking about the importance of partnerships and civic engagement at CHSAS and at the University.

Following the Forum, there was a Reception for participants at the Blair House, the official guest residence of the President. Joining the CHSAS contingent was Molly  Jahn, Marc, Elana and Maureen Schulman.

Elana and Marc Schulman with Education Secretary Arne Duncan at the Reception at the Blair House. Secretary Duncan referenced his ties to Chicago–to the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences, Marc Schulman, the Mikva Challenge and Brian Brady, the Director of the Challenge in his remarks below closing the Forum.

Eli’s Marc Schulman and Lucille Shaw of the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences with Brenda Dann-Messier, the Assistant Secretary of Education for Adult and Vocational Education, at the reception at the Blair House. Assistant Secretary Dann-Messier was the commencement speaker at CHSAS in 2011.

 

Secretary Arne Duncan’s Remarks at “For Democracy’s Future” Forum at the White House
January 10, 2012

This is a great day and an important moment for education leaders who want to take civic learning to greater heights and expand its impact. And it is an important day for all of us who care about nurturing a vibrant democracy. As we’re nearing the end of our conference, I’ll try to keep my remarks relatively brief. But I hope this meeting will be the start of something big for the civic learning movement, which has failed to receive the attention it richly deserves.
My hope is that this meeting will serve as a call to action–to make civic learning and democratic engagement a staple of every American’s education, from elementary school to college and to careers. The publications of A Crucible Moment and the Guardian Of Democracy reports, the formation of the American Commonwealth Partnership, and the release of our own roadmap today for advancing civic learning and democratic engagement, are an auspicious beginning.
Unfortunately, we know that civic learning and democratic engagement are not staples of every American’s education today. In too many schools and on too many college campuses, civic learning and democratic engagement are add-ons, rather than an essential part of the core academic mission. Too many elementary and secondary schools are pushing civics and service-learning to the sidelines, mistakenly treating education for citizenship as a distraction from preparing students for college-level mathematics, English, Science, and other core subjects.
And most institutions of higher education now offer civic learning as an elective, not as a critical component of preparing students to compete in a knowledge-based, global economy.
This shunting to the sidelines of civic education, service learning, political participation, and community service is counterproductive. Preparing all students for informed, engaged participation in civic and democratic life is not just essential–it is entirely consistent with the goals of increasing student achievement and closing achievement gaps.
It is consistent with preparing students for 21st century careers. And it is consistent with President Obama’s goal to have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020. As Tony Wagner of the Harvard Graduate School of Education says, there is a “happy convergence between the skills most needed in the global knowledge economy and those most needed to keep our democracy safe and vibrant.”
Now, it is sometimes said that civic learning is old school education. In an era of texts and tweets, and the instant democracy of the Web, civic education can seem antiquated. And it is absolutely the case that much needs to be done to reinvigorate and elevate the quality of civic learning in America. Yet even the most casual glimpse around the globe today shows that civic learning and democracy very much matter in 2012.
From the uprisings in the Arab Spring to the tragic shootings a year ago in Tucson at a Congress on the Corner event, Americans have been reminded again that freedom matters—and that democracy is its embodiment.
The advent of a knowledge-based, global economy opens up unprecedented opportunities, but it creates unprecedented global challenges as well. What happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas anymore—or anywhere else in America. The United States can no longer meet global challenges like developing sustainable sources of energy, reducing poverty and disease, or curbing air pollution and global warming, without collaborating with other countries. And the U.S. cannot meet those global challenges, both here in our local communities or abroad, without dramatically improving the quality and breadth of civic learning and democratic engagement.
These new global and communal challenges will require U.S. students to develop better critical thinking skills and cross-cultural understanding. Fortunately, high-quality civic learning equips students with the very skills they need to succeed in the 21st century—the ability to communicate effectively, to work collectively, to ask critical questions, and to thrive in diverse workplaces. It’s also worth remembering, as Justice Sandra Day O’Connor says, that civic knowledge is not inherited “through the gene pool.” It is not passed on in mother’s milk. It is learned—at school, and at the dinner table. Schools matter.

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act, the landmark law which created our nation’s land-grant universities, and subsequently our nation’s Historic Black Colleges and Universities. Since our founding, America’s leaders have recognized that one of the most important purposes of educating the nation’s citizens is to protect and strengthen democracy. Many Americans are aware that the founders stressed the importance of civic learning and participation in K-12 education. But fewer people realize that civic learning has played a longstanding leading role in higher education as well.
That is one reason why I am so encouraged by the new report that our Department commissioned from an independent, blue-ribbon task force of educators, A Crucible Moment: College Learning and Democracy’s Future. It presents a smart and thorough analysis of civic learning and democratic engagement in higher education. And I absolutely share the task force’s sense of urgency about the need to bolster civic learning and engagement on our nation’s campuses and in our communities. One of the most troubling findings of the task force report is that the longer students stay in college, the wider the gap becomes between “their endorsement of social responsibility as a goal of college and their assessment of whether the institution is providing opportunities for growth in this area.”
Surveys find that only about one in four college seniors report that their understanding of the problems facing their community and their knowledge of people from different races and cultures were much stronger at the end of college than at its start. These findings make plain that our institutions of higher education—and their elementary and secondary school partners—need to expand and transform their approach to civic learning and democratic engagement. This is not a time for tinkering, for incremental change around the margins. At no school or college should students graduate with less civic literacy and engagement than when they arrived. More and better is the challenge before us–and that is why your leadership is critical if we are to take this work to another level.
As the task force report also makes clear, the quality of civic learning is not a new concern. Our founders believed that informed citizens were a bulwark against tyranny and vital to a functioning democracy. Recall that Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia. Benjamin Franklin also believed college should not be reserved for the elite, but should instead cultivate “an inclination joined with the ability to serve mankind, one’s country, friends, and family.” And President Lincoln, who signed the Morrill Act in the midst of the Civil War, declared that education was the “most important subject which we as a people can be engaged in.” This deep-seated commitment to civic learning and engagement peaked in higher education after World War II, when millions of G.I.’s headed to colleges and universities on the G.I. Bill.

In 1947, President Truman’s Commission on Higher Education released a landmark report that called for states to create a system of community colleges to help accommodate the vast number of returning veterans enrolling in higher education. It is telling that the commission did not present its recommendations simply as an economic imperative. In fact, it argued that “the first and foremost charge upon higher education is that at all levels and in all its fields of specialization, it shall be the carrier of democratic values, ideals, and process.”
Today, 65 years later, I am absolutely convinced that this is the moment to advance civic learning and democratic engagement, once again. The time is ripe for reform because the state of civic knowledge and engagement among Americans is poor–even as the interest in civic learning and engagement among students, teachers, and faculty is growing. A new generation of innovative, entrepreneurial organizations is promoting civic learning and engagement at many schools and college campuses. Some are government-led initiatives like AmeriCorps and our Department’s Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. But there are so many outstanding public, non-profit, and private initiatives, like the Campus Compact, Ashoka U, the Interfaith Youth Core, Justice O’Connor’s iCivics online initiative–and many other service-learning programs, social entrepreneurship, and civil discourse programs that have blossomed in the last two decades.
Unlike traditional civic education, civic learning and democratic engagement 2.0 is more ambitious and participatory than in the past. To paraphrase Justice O’Connor, the new generation of civic education initiatives move beyond your “grandmother’s civics” to what has been labeled “action civics.” The goals of traditional civic education–to increase civic knowledge, voter participation, and volunteerism–are all still fundamental. But the new generation of civic learning puts students at the center. It includes both learning and practice—not just rote memorization of names, dates, and processes. And more and more, civic educators are harnessing the power of technology and social networking to engage students across place and time.
How do I know that the new generation of civic learning can be both engaging and exacting? I was lucky enough to have the opportunity both to promote and witness the impact of high-quality civic learning firsthand when I was CEO of the Chicago Public Schools. I see that Brian Brady from the Mikva Challenge in Chicago is here today. So is my friend, Marc Schulman, and a number of students from the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences. That was one of my favorite high schools. They have produced hundreds of civic learners who have done some amazing projects in their communities. Brian helped those students to organize and run an advisory council for me. And their insights on how policy decisions impacted students’ lives were profound and invaluable to me and my team. The Mikva Challenge has also done an incredible job of recruiting and training high school seniors and juniors to serve as election judges in Chicago. Now, anyone who knows Chicago politics, knows that is not an easy job! But literally, even before they can vote, high school juniors in Chicago are now signing up to be election judges. The Mikva Challenge recruits and trains 2,500 high school students in Chicago for each election cycle. And those students account for nearly 20 percent of election judges in Chicago. Could Brian, Marc, and the students here today stand to be recognized?
Finally, I want to encourage everyone here today to read the Road Map and Call to Action that our Department is releasing today to advance civic learning and engagement in democracy. It outlines our agency’s role in civic learning. And it lists nine steps we will take as we strive to serve as a constructive catalyst for change. I want to especially thank Undersecretary Martha Kanter, Assistant Secretary Eduardo Ochoa, Phil Martin, and Taylor Stanek for their leadership in putting together today’s Call to Action. They intuitively understand the profound and enduring value of civic learning, and they have been tireless advocates for civic learning and engagement efforts. I know they are grateful to the Steering Committee, which has been instrumental in preparing today’s program and bringing all of us together. I won’t take the time now to run through the nine steps in our Call to Action in detail. But it’s important to recognize that our Department is already doing a lot to support civic learning and democratic engagement–and that we have a special opportunity now to enhance those efforts.
The Federal Work-Study program currently mandates that institutions of higher education use at least seven percent of the total amount of funds awarded to provide community service jobs for students. In the 2009-10 award year, $222 million was used to fund community service jobs—and that sum doesn’t include a much larger pot of non-federal matching funds. To cite another example, our Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships is working with the White House and the Corporation for National and Community Service to oversee the President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge. Several hundred colleges and universities have signed onto the President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge. To date, more than 270 colleges and universities have committed to a year of interfaith and community service programming on their campuses. College students participating in the Challenge select one service priority for their interfaith initiative, in areas such as poverty and education, health services, and support programs for veterans and military families. Our team is convinced that there is much more that we can do to further enhance civic learning and democratic engagement.
We can convene, catalyze, and recognize K-12 schools and postsecondary institutions that are committed to high-quality civic learning.
We can encourage states, schools and postsecondary institutions to conduct civic audits and publish their plans and outcomes for educating students for informed engagement in civic life. We can identify additional civic indicators. We can spotlight promising practices–and encourage further research to learn what works. We can leverage federal investments and public-private partnerships. We can–and we will–encourage public service careers, especially to help in the outreach, recruitment, and hiring of more than 1.6 million great teachers that our nation will need over the next decade. And we will continue to support civic learning as part of a well-rounded K-12 curriculum. I also ask you to challenge us with how we can be most helpful. And, while we are passionate and committed, we are absolutely clear that we cannot begin to do this work alone. To succeed, this great effort to advance civic learning and engagement in democracy needs visionary leaders. It needs higher education faculty and deans, and teachers and principals from our K-12 schools. It needs creative non-profits, foundations, dedicated entrepreneurs, business leaders, jurists, artists, actors, and lawmakers.
And it needs federal, state, and local leaders to promote high-quality civic learning and establish innovative public-private partnerships.
That is why I am so inspired by the quality of commitments from the education community announced earlier today. It is why I am so encouraged to see the extraordinary coalition that has joined hands in the American Commonwealth Partnership to promote high-quality civic learning and new forms of engagement and scholarship.
With your courage and your commitment, I believe we will begin to restore civic learning and democratic engagement to its rightful place in our nation’s schools and colleges.
Thank you—and thanks to everyone for their participation in today’s meeting. Together, let’s get to work.

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