The Launch of Chicago Early Learning

Today marked the launch of Chicago Early Learning, a new way to find and compare early learning programs in Chicago.

Here’s some snips from the press release from the Mayor’s Office:

As part of the his administration’s focus on increasing access to quality early learning programs for children across the city and emphasis on helping parents get and stay involved in their children’s education, Mayor Rahm Emanuel today launched a new online Early Leaning Portal, The portal is an easy-to-use, interactive website that puts information about hundreds of quality early learning programs across the city all in one place.


“We were happy to collaborate with the City on this interactive map, which will allow parents and families to find information about these programs easily and quickly. We’re interested in hearing from parents and caregivers on what would make the site more useful to them,” said Dan O’Neil, Executive Director of the Smart Chicago Collaborative. “We’re also releasing the code for the site as open source, so that it can be used to make similar map-based sites showing resources across the city.”

“Our focus is on making sure children are ready to learn when they enter kindergarten. M.K. and I share Mayor Emanuel’s strong commitment to providing high-quality early learning for infants, toddlers and their families,” said J.B. Pritzker, president of the J.B. & M.K. Pritzker Family Foundation. “Helping Chicago parents and caregivers identify the best early childhood educational opportunities in their neighborhoods is critically important. This online interactive, one-stop shop will help parents and caregivers access and better manage the challenging process of selecting a high-quality early learning program for their infants and toddlers.”

Here’s the code that drives the site.

Chicago Early Learning

Here’s a spot on CBS about the site featuring Kevin Hauswirth of the Mayor’s Office:

Review of Chicago Early Learning Portal on CBS with Kevin Hauswirth from Daniel X. O’Neil on Vimeo.

We worked with a really great team to get this first phase of the Web site launched:

  • At Smart Chicago, we had consultant Derek Eder of DataMade. Derek served as local technical technical project manager and was instrumental in getting the data for the site in good order
  • Azavea, a leading geospatial firm out of Philadelphia, did the heavy lifting around technology
  • The Urban Education Lab of the University of Chicago shepherded the project from the education perspective and worked with other stakeholders like Illinois Action for Children to make sure that the data was sound and the interface was useful key constiuents

We look forward to working toward a successful phase two, which will incorporate feedback from user testing we’ll be conducting in the months to come. Questions, comments, and feedback are always welcome at