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Designs for Change (DFC) seeks to improve the nation’s 50 largest urban public school systems, beginning in Chicago. DFC applies world-class research and policy analysis to develop reforms which address the most difficult problems facing urban schools.  

In 1988, DFC's efforts led to the passage of the Chicago School Reform Act, a sweeping statewide law that gave parents, principals, teachers, and community residents direct power over their neighborhood schools by creating Local School Councils (LSCs). Historian Michael Katz has called it the most extensive restructuring of an urban school system in the last 100 years.

Since then, DFC’s ongoing priorities have been:

  • to ensure that reform initiatives translate into improved student achievement
  • to make literacy the catalyst for school-wide improvement 
  • to ensure that students with disabilities are taught a challenging instructional program in the regular classroom as often as possible

DFC’s work has resulted in vastly improved educational experiences across the Chicago Public School system. DFC will continue supporting LSCs, principals, teachers, parents, and community leaders who are on the front lines of building effective, high-achieving urban schools.