Cities of Learning

Cities of Learning is a national effort to remake learning into an exciting enterprise that prepares all young people for the world they live in today and will work in tomorrow. Each City of Learning brings together all of a city’s resources to equip young people with the skills they need to succeed in the 21st century.

Washington D.C.


Cities of Learning address key educational needs for local communities, including:

A searchable network makes learning opportunities visible to all.

Exploration fosters curiosity, resilience and 21st century skills.

Skills development and internships promote workplace success.

Enticing learning opportunities help maintain academic gains.

Youth from all backgrounds can develop their talents and ambitions.

Tracking learning, wherever it happens, turns interests into opportunities.



Networked City

Cities of Learning turn entire cities into campuses for learning anytime and anywhere by networking the abundant learning opportunities that already exist throughout the community. Cities of Learning partners include libraries, parks, community centers, business internship programs, and schools, as well as online learning providers.

Each local City of Learning website allows young people and their parents to search and register for learning opportunities throughout the city. Young people can also jump from one learning program to another as they follow their interests and build their skills.

Connected Learning

Cities of Learning integrate the principles of connected learning, a learning approach that believes that when young people connect in-school learning with out-of-school interests, find supportive social networks of peers and mentors that encourage a passion, and create real things in the real world, they can visualize pathways toward a productive future.

Connected learning is designed for our times. It prepares young people for an ever-changing world where high-order skills, such as experimentation, creativity, and collaboration, are in demand and learning never stops. Connected learning leverages the tools of our connected age to create the makers and producers today’s economy demands. To learn more visit, clalliance.org.

Digital Badges

Cities of Learning issue digital badges to showcase participation and accomplishments. Like a letter grade in school, digital badges signify mastery of a skill. Badges store in-depth layers of information – including curriculum, examples of work, and peer assessments – creating a complete portrait of the learner.

Badges also unlock deeper learning experiences by connecting young people to related interests, and are easily shared with teachers, friends, and family via an online portfolio. Some colleges and employers are beginning to embrace digital badges as evidence of knowledge and skills which could help youth access internships, jobs, and school credit in the future.



Creating a City of Learning requires dedicated partners and a variety of resources:

Anchor Organization

A local organization that manages and trains network member organizations to implement City of Learning, as well as pursues and maintains local public and private partnerships that ensure long-term viability of the effort.

Political Champion

A civic official who commits resources and energy to enable city-wide integration of City of Learning programming, and dedicates staff to coordinate municipal agencies.

Network Members

Organizations that collaborate to create a network of City of Learning connected opportunities and outcomes, and align these opportunities and outcomes with employer and university interests.

School Representative

A local school official who facilitates the integration of City of Learning programming into the local curriculum, promotes opportunities to the community, and ensures that the programming meets district goals and curriculum requirements.

Funding Sources

A group of diverse philanthropic partners that raise funding for City of Learning programs, leverage capital to broaden participation, and invest in the sustainability of the effort.

Employers & Universities

Institutions that validate and accredit the City of Learning opportunities and outcomes, and explore new learning opportunities that could result in badges.

Community Organizations

Youth-serving organizations that plug their existing programs into the City of Learning network and therefore, extend its reach.


Learn More

Cities of Learning launched in Chicago with a successful summer program in 2013. Chicago is now a City of Learning year round, and Cities of Learning are underway in Dallas, Pittsburgh, and Washington, D.C. Additional cities are making plans to join.

Each City of Learning is fueled by local public-private partnerships and receives national support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Digital Youth Network, and the Connected Learning Alliance. These partners believe Cities of Learning can play an important role in addressing some of the critical educational issues of our times.