Blue Foundation/eBrigade Initiative

Since 2002, eBrigade, an initiative of Ancora Associates’ non-profit arm Blue Foundation, has supported and advocated the use of technology in the service of learning and teaching, particularly for high school students. Students’ passions and desires aren’t always aligned with what a school can offer in a traditional setting. Staffing formulas can make it difficult for schools to offer specialized, niche subjects. If it takes 28 – 30 students to fill a “regular” class, how can you serve students in a group of four or even just one student? That’s where online learning comes in! Online learning provides flexibility to schools and allows them to expand their curriculum without restricting other areas. Whether it’s Khan Academy helping 6th graders through reciprocal division or Harvard, Stanford and MIT offering online college courses for free—students across the globe are using technology to access the best learning, teaching and content the world has to offer.

eBrigade focuses on credit-bearing enrichment courses not available within their school curriculum to open up the infinite world of digital learning. We enable young people to access online, original, for-credit enrichment course content any time, any place, any way. We provide scholarships to hundreds of Chicago Public high school students. (Click on the Apply Now button at right for an application).

eBrigade understands that each high school has a unique configuration or program based on what works best for that school community. We work closely with the Principal and designated representatives to determine the best model for each school. The Principal selects the online course vendor. If the school does not currently work with an online course vendor, eBrigade will provide support and assistance with vendor choice and implementation – this support is ongoing through the school year.

Based on our experience, the criteria necessary for success at any school are:

  • Designation (by school Principal) of an onsite point person (virtual mentor/facilitator)
  • Careful selection of students with at least a C grade point average who are able work independently
  • Regular and ongoing computer and internet access for students
  • Advance determination of when the online courses will be offered

Throughout the program, each school agrees to:

  • Provide student progress information, class level, course titles and final grades
  • Meet periodically with eBrigade – dates and times to be mutually agreed upon

We are also proud to announce our own online course, American Art History: From Elite to Street, hosted by the Illinois Virtual School www.ilvirtual.org. This course aims to fill a gap in arts education opportunities for our youth. eBrigade also offers scholarships covering tuition costs for this course.

From Elite to Street is a dynamic, one-semester online course for high school students grades nine through twelve. It offers students an engaging introduction to the rich and varied art of the United States from the Colonial Era to the early 21st century using complex audio, visual, and written texts. The course is Common Core and ILS (Fine Arts) aligned, providing .5 credit towards graduation. From Elite to Street enables student achievement through project-based lessons and unit assessments, and promotes student-centered discovery of local Chicago art in their own neighborhoods. We thank the Terra Foundation for American Art for their great generosity in providing funding assistance and for allowing us access to images from their collection of American art.

The course has also been Quality Matters (QM) certified! Certification is only issued upon completion of a rigorous review by a peer review team of experienced online instructors who ensure that a course meets QM Rubric Standards. Quality Matters’ Rubrics for online and blended course design have been adopted by more than 1,000 colleges and universities, K-12 schools and systems, and other academic institutions, and continue to influence many others. QM design standards are based on widely agreed-upon best practices and supported by a growing body of research.

For the online course and From Elite to Street scholarship application, click on the Apply Now button, or call Ancora Associates at 312.219.2455.

Blue Foundation is a 501(c)3 charitable foundation dedicated to expanding educational opportunities for young people and promoting lifelong cultural and civic engagement at all ages.