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A Better Chicago and the Chicago Blackhawks Foundation Announce Chicago Scholars to Join One West Side Initiative

Apr 23, 2024

Today, A Better Chicago and the Chicago Blackhawks Foundation announced Chicago Scholars has joined the One West Side initiative. Launched in 2020, One West Side is a multi-year, multi-million-dollar partnership between A Better Chicago and the Chicago Blackhawks Foundation focused on equipping local leaders and fueling programs and services that enable Chicago’s youth to thrive at all stages of life.

Founded in 1996, Chicago Scholars mentors students from under-resourced communities to complete college and become the next generation of leaders. Their seven-year model means they work with their scholars from the start of the college admissions process through their first job after graduation and beyond. They are directly responsible for increasing the number of college graduates of color in Illinois and increasing the overall lifetime earnings of those who participate in their programming.

One West Side pairs the Blackhawks’ platform of professional sports with A Better Chicago’s philanthropic expertise to support local organizations and leaders in efforts to create greater opportunity for youth in their own communities. The initiative is a commitment to invest in Chicago’s West Side, which includes some of the city’s most underserved and under-resourced neighborhoods.

“Since its inception, Chicago Scholars has created a blueprint for helping underserved students persist and thrive in college through impactful programming and mentorship,” said A Better Chicago CEO Beth Swanson. “We are proud to have them join the One West Side initiative as they are working directly with youth on the west side of the city through their Young Men of Color program, which seeks to increase the enrollment of Black and Latinx men in Chicago Scholars by 10% by 2025. We are grateful to the Chicago Blackhawks Foundation for their partnership and commitment as we work together to make meaningful investments and create lasting change in our city.”  

“We are thrilled to welcome Chicago Scholars to One West Side. Their model, which acknowledges the potential in all young people and invests in them in the long-term is exactly what One West Side is all about,” said Chicago Blackhawks Foundation Executive Director Sara Guderyahn. “We are grateful for our partnership with A Better Chicago as we work together to lift up community centered programs across west side neighborhoods and invest in their visions for the future.”

“We are so excited to be selected for the One West Side Initiative. It’s so important for our Scholars to see that organizations like the Chicago Blackhawks and the Black Hawks Foundation not only care about them, but are actively investing in them and their community,” said Jeffery Beckham, Jr., CEO at Chicago Scholars. “The Blackhawks represent a tradition of dedication, leadership, and winning. Chicago Scholar’s vision aligns and this commitment to the West Side of Chicago is an example of that championship lineage. Chicago Scholars is proud to join this group of organizations working to make our city great for all its residents.  This partnership will mean a lot to our Scholars, and Chicago’s youth as a whole.”

Recent metrics showing the impact of Chicago Scholars programming include:

  • Chicago Scholars have received more than $700 million in merit aid, which is 5X more merit aid than the average undergraduate student.
  • Young men of color who complete Chicago Scholars’ program earn salaries approximately 2.5 times those of their peers.
  • Chicago Scholars Alumni have collectively earned $6.8 billion more in lifetime earnings than they would have without Chicago Scholars programming.
  • Each Chicago Scholars Alum contributes an average of $500K back to their communities in societal benefits, leading to a $53.67 return for every dollar invested in the organization.
  • Four in five Chicago Scholars graduates are Black, Latinx, or Indigenous, compared to one in five graduates across Illinois. Because 80% of Chicago Scholars Alumni return to Illinois after college, Chicago Scholars is directly responsible for increasing the number of college graduates of color in our state.
  • 78% of Scholars graduate with a bachelor’s degree within six years of matriculation.
  • 52% of Chicago Scholars Alumni earn more than their parents did.

Chicago Scholars joins A Better Chicago portfolio organizations the Austin Childcare Providers Network, The Bloc, the Firehouse Community Arts Center, and the MAAFA Redemption Project under the One West Side initiative. Collectively, they reach Chicagoans at every stage of life – from birth to young adulthood – supporting education, social-emotional learning, mentorship opportunities, skills training, leadership development, and more. The initiative strengthens these organizations that are already deeply embedded in their communities and supports them as they expand the scale and impact of their work.

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About A Better Chicago

A Better Chicago is a venture philanthropy firm that invests in the most promising nonprofits helping children escape poverty. We’re a supercharger. We have provided more than $73 million in unrestricted funding and management support to help the nonprofits in our portfolio grow. Our donors want to make pivotal, well-researched investments that lift the outlook for our city.

About Chicago Blackhawks Foundation

The Chicago Blackhawks are proud to bring hope and support to the communities that have given our team so much. The Chicago Blackhawks Foundation seeks to create a healthier, smarter, more secure world for families in and around Chicago. We will drive impact and purpose by building authentic, community-based partnerships across the region, investing in and delivering meaningful programs, and providing resources to those that need them most.

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