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DeVry University Advantage Academy Celebrates 10 Years of Student Opportunity and Success

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What started in 2004 as an innovative approach to college and career readiness for Chicago Public Schools (CPS) juniors and seniors has proven to be a winning model that helps students accelerate their education and succeed after graduation. Ten years after its founding, CPS and DeVry University will commemorate the anniversary of the launch of DeVry University Advantage Academy (DUAA) with an alumni reception and celebration.

A partnership between CPS and DeVry University, Advantage Academy is a dual-enrollment, dual-degree CPS high school located on DeVry University’s Chicago campus. High school juniors and seniors have the opportunity to earn a college associate degree while completing high school at no tuition cost. Tuition and books are paid for by the Chicago Board of Education and DeVry University.

As of August 2014, more than 950 students have graduated from the program. According to the Illinois Board of Higher Education, Advantage Academy’s 2012-13 high school graduation rate was 99 percent, and the cumulative associate degree completion rate is 86 percent.

“Advantage Academy demonstrates the high level of success our students can achieve when communities and schools work together to prepare them for college, career and life,” said CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. “Like all our dual-enrollment postsecondary partners, we thank DeVry University for being leaders in our shared mission to prepare our students for 21st-century success.”

Among the many successful alumni expected to attend the anniversary event is Briana Macon, who graduated in 2007 and continued her education at Illinois Institute of Technology, earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Macon then went on to earn a master’s degree in human resource management from DeVry University’s Keller Graduate School of Management. She currently works at ComEd as a human resources generalist.

Also attending is DUAA alumnus Arian Johnson from the class of 2008. After graduation, Johnson attended the University of Illinois at Chicago where he earned a bachelor’s degree in criminology, law and justice. He now works for the Cook County Bureau of Technology as a field technician and is enrolled in DeVry University’s Keller Graduate School of Management, where he is working toward a master’s degree in information systems management with a concentration in information security.

“We are thrilled to welcome Advantage Academy alumni back to campus to celebrate their achievements,” said Sharon Thomas Parrott, senior vice president, external relations for DeVry Education Group, the parent organization of DeVry University and Advantage Academy. “DeVry University Advantage Academy was founded to expand college access for students from Chicago neighborhood schools with the belief that when we challenge and motivate them, they can succeed in high school, in college and in careers. Ten years later, these students and alumni have proven it works, and we could not be more proud of them.”

Launched in 2004 under then-CEO of CPS, Arne Duncan, and the CPS Office of Education to Careers, Advantage Academy’s first program offered students the chance to earn an associate degree in network systems administration (NSA). Current students may elect to pursue the NSA associate degree or an associate degree in Web graphic design. Instructors include certified CPS educators and DeVry University faculty.

After the program launched in Chicago, Advantage Academy was successfully replicated with public school districts in Columbus, Ohio, and Decatur, Georgia.

In 2012, researchers at the University of Chicago Becker Friedman Institute for Research conducted an assessment of Advantage Academy by surveying students and alumni. They found successful outcomes and high student satisfaction with the program. Among the findings: 90 percent of survey respondents would recommend Advantage Academy to other students; students who graduate from Advantage Academy are very likely to continue on to receive postsecondary degrees; and those who completed the program cited many advantages, including a smaller environment, helpful faculty, and excellent preparation for future schooling.

Editor’s note:

DeVry University and Chicago Public Schools will celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the Advantage Academy with an alumni reception and celebration at the DeVry University Chicago campus at 3300 N. Campbell Ave. on Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014 at 6 p.m. Media may RSVP to attend the event by contacting Maureen Meehan at (312) 573-5465 or maureen_meehan@jtpr.com.

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