Lion’s Pride

Back to all Grantees
  • Investment to Date $665K
  • Students Served 196
  • Grantee Since 2021
  • View Website


Lion’s Pride Mentoring, Inc uses a peer-to-peer mentorship model to foster empowerment in high school students. The program pairs ninth graders with high-performing upperclassmen to support the holistic success and well-being of both students.

Why We Invested

Lion’s Pride offers a unique peer-to-peer mentoring approach that supports students holistically while nurturing a supportive community within schools. Although the entire high school experience can be daunting to students, freshmen year is especially difficult. As students transition from middle to high school, students at all 8th grade GPA levels and prior educational achievement are at risk of a 9th grade GPA decline. The University of Chicago Consortium on School Research identified that despite an increase in CPS students’ overall average GPA for core classes since 2011, the GPA disparity between 8th and 9th grades continues to exist for freshmen on average. The model shows early promise in lifting 9th grade academic and SEL outcomes.

Looking Ahead

Gilstrap has an ambitious vision to grow Lion’s Pride’s programming into 13 Chicago-area high schools within three years, translating to nearly 500 students. Along with expanding school partners, Gilstrap’s longer-term vision includes stable and predictable sources of financing, an engaged and supportive board, scholarships for mentees to attend university, deeper relationships with alumni, community-based events to spread awareness, and staff representation from former mentors and mentees.