Reengagement in Chicago

Chicago Public Schools operates four Student Outreach And Reengagement (SOAR) Centers, with the goal of connecting more than 42,000 out-of-school youth and their families with services to enable youth to obtain a diploma or GED.

SOAR Center staff work with students to identify the campus that best meets their needs. Reengagement specialists meet with students weekly in group and individual sessions to ensure students are on track to meeting their goals. Chicago Public Schools recognizes that disengaged students need options. The district created Options Schools to provide additional support and services for students returning to the district for their diploma or GED. Youth now have over 40 Options Schools to choose from. Campuses have adopted a variety of models, such as alternative school schedules and child care services, each intended to help a different type of student. 

Promising Practices

  • Prior to re-enrolling in a school, students must complete a rigorous nine-day "character development" workshop, which includes a service learning project.
  • SOAR centers partner with community-based organizations to provide workshops, service learning opportunities, and critical services such as housing and medical assistance. 

Chicago Tonight interviews SOAR students about their experience

2014-2015 Activity 

  • 2,194 youth connected to an educational option; 248 of youth from this cohort graduated within the school year
  • Partnered with the Juvenile Justice program to engage students involved with the Juvenile Justice system
  • Partnered with the Cook County Workforce Coalition to develop projects for students