The City of Chicago, in association with the Smart Chicago Collaborative and the University of Chicago’s Urban Education Lab (UEL) partnered to launch the Chicago Early Learning Portal. The application provides a one-stop shop for finding early learning centers, assessing and comparing program quality by location, and tracking data about Chicago’s early childhood systems.
An interesting aspect of this application is that users do not need a web connection to access the wealth of information the application contains. Indeed, a text feature enables users to search and access information about programs by text message, without requiring an Internet connection. Parents and families can text their zip codes to 773-886-1819 to receive information about nearby early learning sites.
Information available about the early learning programs include: site name, address, phone number, email and website, number of classrooms, range of ages that are served by the program and programming schedule. The portal also notes which programs are nationally accredited through the National Association for the Education of Young Children and includes information about each program’s statewide rating, pulled from the Illinois Quality Rating Improvement System.
All of the code for the application, including a full API of the data that drives the site, is available in English and Spanish and was released as open source under the MIT License and is available on GitHub. This means that other organizations can leverage the investment the Smart Chicago Collaborative has made in this project to implement early learning portals for their own communities.