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Designs for Change (DFC) is a 28-year-old
educational research and reform organization that
helps create successful "learning paths" for urban
children and youth from birth to adulthood,
resulting in educational competence, an occupation
with a future, and active civic participation. DFC
places a major priority on improving the learning
paths of low-income students, students of color,
English language learners, and students with
disabilities in Chicago and other major cities. DFC
focuses especially on improving the quality and
results of elementary and secondary education,
because of their critical role in shaping the learning
paths of young people.
In pursuing these priorities, Designs for Change
grounds its improvement activities in previous and
on-going research by DFC and other researchers.
DFC's educational research and reform efforts are
carried out through two major programs:
• Educational Improvement Program (formerly
Policy Reform Program). Based on research, the
Educational Improvement Program educates and
assists key educational stakeholders in Chicago
school communities in implementing existing
educational policy and programs effectively and in
pressing for needed changes in current policy, in
ways that will improve the quality of students'
educational experiences, student achievement, and
parent and community involvement in the schools.
The Educational Improvement Program focuses on
improving education for Chicago's most vulnerable
students, including low-income students, students
of color, English language learners, and students
• Learning Path Institute. Learning Path Institute
will offer an Associate of Arts program for active
parent and community leaders working for the
improvement of public education, as well as for the
improvement of other institutions that can help
create productive "learning paths" for urban
children and youth — from birth to a career with a
future. The Institute will prepare its graduates to
subsequently become teachers and human service