In September 2018, Ryan Banks Academy will open its doors with our first class of 7th grade students. We will prepare motivated students from Chicago neighborhoods to graduate from college, enter into meaningful careers, and be the catalyst to bring positive change into their communities. Join us as we transform urban education!
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The Vision

The RBA mission is to build Chicago’s first residential school for urban youth.  In our first 1-2 years, we will begin as a day school/boarding school hybrid model, where our students attend day school at RBA, plus our school year will include multiple extended field trips which will allow our students to explore new environments and cultures.  During this time, we will be constructing our permanent campus which will include dormitories for our students and residential housing for our staff.  ´╗┐Our first class will launch with 7th grade students Fall 2018.

Ryan Banks Academy will have the capacity to serve a total of 240 students between 7th-12th grades.


A Complete Education

Academic Curriculum

Ryan Banks Academy students will expand their horizons through a curriculum model focused on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) and experiential and expeditionary learning.  Ryan Banks Academy will have a rigorous academic program that will focus on preparing all of our students for college or for a vocation that will enable them to attain the same level of financial freedom that a college education would provide.  We recognize that as a residential school, we will benefit from a 24/7 accountability advantage, embedded in which we will have an expectation for dramatic academic gains and personal growth.  Our goals for high school graduation rates, college graduation rates, student retention rates, successful internship placement rates, and proficiency rates are mission-driven and benchmarked with the schools with whom we share certain practices.


Residential Curriculum

Ryan Banks Academy plans to differentiate itself from competitor schools because we will be the first boarding school to provide services to underserved children in Chicago.   Boarding schools have historically been a privilege and luxury that are reserved for the wealthy, and we believe that a successful boarding school education should also be easily accessible for disadvantaged youth.

Ryan Banks Academy will accelerate and reinforce student learning outside of traditional school hours, ensuring that students graduate from high school with both the academic and life skills to excel in college and in their professional career.  Through receiving a breadth of holistic services, students will also be equipped with the social and emotional skills that will allow them to pursue meaningful relationships and to positively contribute back to society.  Students will be surrounded by supportive and positive adult role models and mentors that will help them to develop the habits necessary to succeed academically, socially, and professionally.


Social Emotional

In addition to providing world-class academic instruction, we believe in taking a holistic view of the child. Many studies suggest that emotional intelligence is a defining characteristic of effective leaders, and we know that attending to children’s social/emotional needs is crucial in order for them to achieve their highest potential.

Students cite social and emotional learning as the primary area in which they need more from CPS (according to a Chicago Public Schools district-wide student survey).  Ryan Banks Academy recognizes that many of the events that a society considers traumatic and disturbing, many of our students endure on a regular basis. This reality, compounded by the fact that most social workers serve multiple schools and are only able to reach the neediest students, means that many students who need regular, preventative counseling go without and their academics often suffer greatly as a result.  In addition to providing world-class academic instruction, we believe in taking a holistic view of the child.  If one area of a child’s life is neglected, all other areas will suffer.  As such, Ryan Banks Academy will have a strong focus on social/emotional health as we believe (and studies show) that attending to children’s social/emotional needs is crucial in order for them to achieve their highest potential.  

Ryan Banks Academy will reverse this damaging trend by embedding into our model:

  • A focus on qualified mental health professionals and mentors to support students in managing emotions, dealing with past traumas, developing relationships, and identifying personal values.  Instead of the 1:1200 that we often seen in CPS schools, our ratio of mental health professionals to students will be no higher than 1:30.
  • Our adventure learning focus will include annual expeditions, ongoing team building, and student involvement with the creation of a challenge course
  • At the foundation of Ryan Banks Academy is the Valor Compass, an empirically proven and competency-based human development model that serves as a metaphor for growth for all members of the RBA community.
  • SEL is incorporated into student life through daily Human Development themes:
    • Mindful Monday:  Meditation, visualizations, mindful practice, self-awareness 
    • Together Tuesday:  Team building, trust activities, challenge course initiatives
    • Wellness Wednesday:  Yoga, nutritional & physical health, connection to nature
    • Thoughtful Thursday:  Problem-solving, reflection, goal setting, journaling
    • Fun Friday: Residential games, poetry jams, music productions, theatre, comedy


Family Involvement

Although our long term vision is for our students to board with us seven days a week, their families will still be an important part of their lives.  Ryan Banks Academy believes that parents and teachers are co-educators and co-collaborators in the effort to equip our students with the tools needed to succeed in the future.  Through its personalized and results-oriented focus, Ryan Banks Academy aims to help parents partake in, nurture, and celebrate the success of their children.  Listed below are the key components of our parental engagement strategy as well as examples of how we will actualize our philosophy:

  • Awareness:  Parents will be regularly notified of student performance, so that parental input can consistently shape student achievement.  Ryan Banks Academy will host regular family dinners where parents and guardians can review interim assessment results as a community and enjoy dinner with their families.

  • Engagement:  Parents will be afforded as many opportunities as possible to engage in and celebrate their child’s academic achievement.

  • Partnership:  School staff and parents will be partners in securing the students’ success.

  • Parent-focused programming:  These programs will vary based on the needs of current family members, and will include parenting classes, financial literacy classes, and career counseling.

  • Fundraising support: > Ryan Banks Academy parents will engage in activities that support our financial solvency.

Media Kit
Download the Ryan Banks Academy media kit to learn more about us, and feel free to share with anyone who may be interested in our mission!
Reality in Chicago.
Overview of Academic Curriculum and Social Emotional Learning.