At The U School, students become “urban designers” who solve real-world problems in their communities through research, planning, designing, and by testing their ideas.

Through these project-based learning experiences, students will gain 21st-century skill sets. Traditional courses are reorganized into interdisciplinary courses that are broken down into learning modules. For example, “Urban Ecology” brings together learning objectives from the fields of science, social studies, and mathematics.


The U School’s instructional model includes some of  the following elements:

  • Youth development focus: all students will join an advisory team (called Possi) with peers and a mentor educator who will design and create a vibrant high school experience; Possi will support goal-setting, college and career planning, and strong engagement with families to support learner growth.
  • Personalized learning: every learner is supported in learning with the amount of independence they are ready to manage.
  • Competency-based education: learning goals are organized as “competencies” – the knowledge and skills learners must successfully apply in order to solve real-world problems. Learners only advance once they have demonstrated proficiency in the learning goals.
  • Design-based learning: learners lead personal and team-based investigations around the “Great Challenges of Our Time,” and develop key skills in research, problem-solving, communications, and taking action.