"If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old."
— Peter F. Drucker
The story of CLCS Schools began in 1992, when the Alameda Unified School District (AUSD), in partnership with accounting firm Arthur Andersen, held a visioning conference about the future of education. This conference was intended to break the mold of traditional education and establish an innovative model that would yield consistently successful graduates.
This conference produced the "Graduate Profile" which identified the ideal skills, qualities and work habits of successful high-school graduates. These skills and qualities included traits like self-motivation and direction, effective time management, creative problem-solving, critical thinking, consistent application and follow-through, positive goal-orientation and community involvement.
From there, key conference attendees designed an educational model to cultivate and nurture these traits. They conceived a self-directed and project-based learning approach based on "facilitators" rather than teachers, "learners" rather than students, that also incorporated an interactive democratic community as a core value — all the while maintaining a highly-efficient application of per-pupil funding. Thus, the Alameda Community Learning Center (ACLC) was born.
ACLC was originally established as a grade 7-12 "incubator" within the Alameda Unified School District, with Arthur Andersen funding the original start-up costs, endowing it with state-of-the-art technological resources and staff training, and providing ongoing management consulting.
ACLC Charter & Success
Five years later, to further its stated goals and achieve its full potential, ACLC became a district charter school so that economic and educational decisions could be made directly by stakeholders. ACLC's charter status allowed the school to seek its own grants, determine its own standards, and enact policies that met the needs of their unique learning environment. The first ACLC Governing Board was formed, encompassing facilitators, parents, learners, community members and a school district representative.
In 2007, ACLC received accolades as a California Distinguished School, becoming the first charter school in Alameda to achieve this honor. Now, as an accredited school of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, ACLC serves close to 400 learners and has received numerous additional honors, including being recognized as one of US News & World Report's "America's Best High Schools" since 2009.
An Expanding Vision
In 2008, spurred on by well over a decade of positive educational outcomes and extraordinary learner success with college admissions and beyond, ACLC's leaders sought to spread its model to a wider and more diverse group of learners.
A vital goal for the new school was to apply the educational and financial efficiencies of ACLC to a comprehensive K-12 curriculum, thereby extending the model's effectiveness to the elementary grades and proving its relevance throughout a learner's formative years.
Nea—Immediate Success & Rapid Growth
Nea Community Learning Center became a Charter School in 2009, starting with grades K through 9, and achieved extraordinary API performance (over 800) in its first academic year, and continuing to raise API scores each year following.
Nea's immediate success also led to rapid growth in its learner population, confirming the community's desire for educational alternatives at the elementary level. Today, Nea serves over 500 learners who enjoy and benefit from this unique and innovative type of public charter school education.
CLCS — Managing and Supporting the Model
In 2006, Community Learning Center Schools, Inc. (CLCS), a 501c3 non-profit organization, was created to provide management and support to both ACLC and Nea, while helping the schools achieve even greater financial efficiencies and economies of scale. This restructuring yielded improved stability and fostered their detachment from the AUSD into independent charter schools.
The CLCS Board is composed of expert community members, interested parents and learner representatives from each school, with administrative and facilitator staff serving in advisory and informative roles. CLCS schools each have their own board composed of facilitators, parents, learners and community members, who are involved in important decisions including curriculum, budgeting, school policies, activities and culture.
The New Standard in Education
From the original vision of the ideal Graduate Profile back in 1992 to decades of sustained growth and proven outcomes, CLCS is setting The New Standard in Education as we seek to serve as many diverse learners as possible.
We invite you to apply your own expertise, energy or financial backing to our vital cause: improved educational opportunity for every child.
The quality and experience of an ACLC or Nea education makes it easy to forget that these are public charter schools. Graduates of CLCS schools consistently demonstrate outstanding academic achievement, a desire for lifelong learning, and a commitment to community betterment — key ingredients of a thriving culture and society.
We need your help to enhance the availability of the effective and efficient educational model that CLCS Schools has pioneered and proven. Please help us grow by becoming part of our story!