middle school success

Focusing on the critical period of transition from elementary to high school, CLF partners with schools and community organizations to deliver an empowering, experiential, and project-based middle school program that sets youth on pathways to success in college, career, and civic life.

Since 2007 CLF has worked with over 40 partners and served over 21,000 youth. Middle School Success currently impacts approximately 500 youth, grades 6-8, in seven Chicago Public Schools.

our goal is to support our partners in the amazing work they do and help them empower every student to succeed.

“Community Resource Mapping” is a lesson from Phase 2 of the curriculum. To access more sample lessons from Middle School Success,         click here.

“Community Resource Mapping” is a lesson from Phase 2 of the curriculum. To access more sample lessons from Middle School Success, click here.



CLF’s research-based curriculum aligns with both CASEL and IL State Standards for SEL. Implemented at least once a week as a 45-60 minute class, each program year focuses on three phases of development:

  • Phase 1 consists of group skill-building and collaborative exercises to develop positive social relationships.

  • In Phase 2 students design, implement, and assess group civic projects, experiencing themselves as empowered individuals positively impacting their communities.

  • In Phase 3 students reflect on their learning and apply it to their lives, especially their transition to high school.

With support from their teachers, students learn, practice, and integrate skills and behaviors vital to long term success.


To achieve sustainability and integrate these skills, mindsets, and learning strategies into the school climate and culture, the Middle School Success program spans a three-year arc for 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. Each year builds off of the last but also has its own focus: guiding students to dive deeper into Civic Leadership projects and developing their identities as both local and global citizens.

As students prepare for the uncertainty of high school, CLF’s program arms students with the skills they will need to be resilient in the face of adversity and confident in their ability to tackle whatever challenges they may face.


CLF designs and administers a retrospective pre-post-assessment each year in May/June. Students and teachers are asked to evaluate the program based on their own experiences. CLF synthesizes the data and provides individualized impact reports at the conclusion of each program year. These assessments are essential for making improvements, identifying issues, and celebrating successes.

program support

Working with CLF is more than just using a curriculum, it’s a partnership. Built into the program are several opportunities for guest speakers, volunteers, and special events. The CLF program team works closely with school administrators and instructors to support these engagement opportunities:

  • Meet a Civic Leader Day is both a guided lesson and a unique opportunity for students to hear from a leader in their communities. This may be an Alderman, local business owner, community volunteer or organizer, etc. CLF helps partners secure and schedule impactful guest speakers to supplement what students are learning in the program.

  • Career Day encourages students to explore different career paths, but more importantly to help them understand what they will likely experience once they are part of the workforce. Guest speakers provide insight not only into their day-to-day work life, but also into how they arrived at their current position and what they learned along the way.

  • Forum is an experience that takes place in 7th grade. Students present their community-based Civic Leadership projects to a panel of community members. With the invaluable feedback they receive, students are prepared to launch the projects they have been designing and planning — confident in their ability to implement their visions in the community.

  • Volunteer Days take place throughout the year. CLF works with several corporate partners to schedule days of service at our partner schools: working alongside students on beautification projects, painting murals, and any other improvements our partner may need.

Interested in learning more about our programs and partnership opportunities?

Contact Shannon Dick at sdick@civicleadershipfoundation.org.