Chick-fil-A Leader Academy | Whiteboard
Case Study: Chick-fil-A Leader Academy
Re-imagining High School Leadership
The Vision
High school students want an outlet to learn and lead. Most programs using speakers, seminars, or books offer short-term motivation, but long-term frustration without an outlet for action. Chick-fil-A Leader Academy engages students in monthly Leader Labs where they learn important leadership skills they'll ultimately use to create student-led Community Impact Projects.
Application Design & Development

Chick-fil-A Leader Academy is a platform built on Ruby on Rails with a plethora of open source Ruby Gems. Over the past 3 years, Whiteboard led the custom design and development of the web application and continues to grow the platform today.

Web Experience

Alongside a custom web application, Whiteboard designed and developed the front-facing website for Chick-fil-A Leader Academy to share the message, stories and purpose of the leadership program.


As the program is growing by the year, Whiteboard continues working on strategies and implementing features to maximize how user experience and technology is implemented on behalf of Chick-fil-A Leader Academy as they scale.

Why Whiteboard?
"Whiteboard is the rare company that can dream, design, and deliver an awe-inspiring experience and exceptional final product. They simply hit a grand slam in making the world come alive on the web."

Garrett Gravesen

01 Web Experience

For the past 66 years, Chick-fil-A has built a foundational commitment to service – service to their customers, service to their franchised Restaurant Operators and their Team Members, and service to communities all over the United States.

To Chick-fil-A, service goes beyond the restaurant doors – They serve communities through volunteerism and giving, and make a commitment to take care of the people who take care of their communities. Their philanthropic giving reinforces that commitment to service by helping children and families in need. This is what makes Chick-fil-A so great.

Chick-fil-A Leader Academy is a fresh approach to leadership development and empowers young people to truly make a difference.

In 2013, Chick-fil-A Leader Academy launched in more than 20 high schools across the metro Atlanta area. Chick-fil-A Leader Academy involves 30 students per school in a seven-month curriculum, with an opportunity for the entire student body to get involved in the Impact Project portion. As of 2016, Chick-fil-A Leader Academy serves over 600 schools and has 20,000 users on the platform.

Schools in the Program
as of 2016
Users on the Platform
as of 2016
02 Application Design & Development

Whiteboard engaged ADDO in a project to plan, design, develop, and deploy a web application to support the in-classroom and out-of-classroom experiences for Chick-fil-A Leader Academy. The application serves as the central hub of content distribution and communication between the ADDO administrative team and the volunteer teachers and students at participating schools.

The project started with consultation on the social and technological implications of the application itself. Whiteboard sat across the table from ADDO and asked questions like, “of all of the students who are in the program, how many will have smart phones?” and “is it wise to allow students to see each others’ progress? What about letting students from different schools communicate?”

Perhaps the most important revelation in the early stages was the definition of user scenarios.

On one hand, we have a student who uses the application to re-watch a video and review some curriculum from a past session. On the other hand, we have a teacher who presents the curriculum in a live classroom environment. The application should support both, and do it with the same level of excellence in each scenario.

From these initial planning, consulting, and discovery meetings, we synthesized the needs of the ADDO team into actionable features, and went to work designing and developing the application. With Chick-fil-A Leader Academy, design and development happened simultaneously. In-browser prototyping and multiple iterations allowed the application to naturally adapt to the needs presented to us by ADDO.

Along the way, both ADDO and the development team at Whiteboard uncovered new needs and buried what turned out to be unnecessary features.

Technical Implementation

The platform itself is built on Ruby on Rails with a plethora of open source Ruby Gems, in combination with custom JavaScript and CSS. We deployed through Heroku, and utilize Amazon S3 for asset storage. The security concerns of private or identity-specific information related to students were a major consideration when creating access control flows; many different levels of users needed different levels of access. Architecting the security walls of the application was a primary concern. 

Final Thoughts

Whiteboard continues to work alongside the Chick-fil-A Leader Academy team. Updates to the platform continue being made that enhance how teachers and students engage the leadership curriculum. Our hope is for students who engage Chick-fil-A Leader Academy will learn how to cast vision and define values that anchor their lives.

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