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Pod Leaders & Aides and Student Registration Open Now – January 8, 2021 

Classes Start February 1, 2020

Chicago, IL – SocialWorks and Altitude Chicago have partnered to support a remote Diverse Learner Pod created by local parent Danielle Giles and teacher Tori Niestrom. The goal is to help students with individualized education plans (I.E.P.) receive quality education during the pandemic and provide employment opportunities to teachers and aides. 

School districts around the nation are struggling to create remote education plans for diverse learners. To help fill the need for these students, SocialWorks and Altitude Chicago have created an education pod. Students within the SocialWorks’ e-pods follow the school’s curriculum within a controlled CDC compliant atmosphere and receive lunch, supervision, specialized tutoring, and socialization exercises throughout the school day. SocialWorks & Altitude Chicago hope to support 32 students and teachers & teacher aides this 2020-2021 school year. The deadline to sign up for students and Pod Leaders is Friday, January 8, 2021. Classes are scheduled to start Monday, February 1, 2021. 

SocialWorks and Altitude Chicago were inspired by a local parent, Danielle Giles, whose son struggled with remote learning. Danielle researched ways to help her son and realized that wealthier communities created their own pods and micro-schools. Frustrated with the lack of similar support in her area, Danielle made a GoFundMe page to help support diverse learners like her son, who is deaf. After connecting with Tori Niestrom, a local educator, and SocialWorks, the Diverse Learner Pod Program was born. 

“After an unsuccessful online semester, I struggled all summer trying to come up with an education plan that would work for my son,” said Danielle Giles. “Being deaf, remote learning was not successful because he benefits best from in-person instruction. Unfortunately, we were still in this pandemic, and the local school board was struggling to create a specific plan that would help the DHH (Deaf and Hard of Hearing) program. Parents of students with disabilities, in particular, are very concerned with their children’s educational progress related to the remote learning process. We do not want these students to be left behind this upcoming school year. This summer, I decided to explore the option of an education pod for the 2nd and 3rd graders in my son’s classroom. I then identified an energetic certified DDH Special Education Teacher, Tori Niestrom, who was very excited about the prospect of teaching this diverse group of children. We began to work to create the pod we have today.” 

Qualified teachers and aides are needed to make this programming possible and are encouraged to apply here. Pod Leaders and Aides must have experience with sign language or children with disabilities, be CPR certified, and a DCFS mandated reporter.

Parents and students can register here. Interested groups must have 3-8 diverse learners of the same grade and school to register for a pod. All students must individually register to be considered.

“We are incredibly proud of this partnership with SocialWorks. Although this year has been tough for Altitude Chicago, we have this opportunity to support our community in a unique, purposeful way that is a departure from our core business, said Kevin Kolb, Owner, Altitude Chicago. “Remote learning is just one of the challenges for many Chicago families during this pandemic, so we are very grateful to be able to directly impact our families through this program.” 

With the generous support of Intel, SocialWorks and Altitude Chicago can make this pod possible for diverse learners and their families.  If you are interested in supporting the pod please reach out to or donate here.

About SocialWorks: SocialWorks, founded by Grammy-award-winning musician and humanitarian Chance the Rapper, aims to empower the youth through the arts, education, and civic engagement. Since 2016, SocialWorks has created 5 initiatives that present youth the opportunity to learn and act on their passions. SocialWorks’ programming focuses on education, mental health, homelessness, and performing and literary arts – directly affecting thousands of youth yearly. Through the initiatives, OpenMike, Warmest Winter, Kids of the Kingdom, The New Chance: Arts & Literature Fund, and My State of Mind, SocialWorks hopes to inspire creativity, build dreams, and advocate for youth success in all its forms. For more information, visit:

Altitude Chicago: Altitude Chicago, the City’s first and only indoor trampoline park and event venue, opened in December 2018. Located in the west Fulton Market neighborhood at Ashland Avenue and Kinzie Street, Altitude Chicago is conveniently located just a few miles from Downtown. There are 12 attractions, including an indoor play place, for all ages to enjoy in the 33,000 square feet space. The facility is an homage to the surrounding neighborhood with lofted bow truss ceilings, original skylights and exposed brick throughout our large event space. Altitude Chicago is a family-owned business. 

For press inquiries, please contact Essence Smith at & Victoria Kent at or 815.529.1910.