Chicago Scholars

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  • Investment to Date $3.2M
  • Students Served 3,574
  • Grantee Since 2016
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Chicago Scholars selects, trains, and mentors academically ambitious students from under-resourced communities to enroll in, persist through, and graduate from college. Chicago Scholars provides seven years of programming beginning with supporting students with enrolling in the most selective colleges that best match their abilities and needs and continue as students persist through college and beyond. Through its programming, Chicago Scholars aspires to develop the next generation of leaders who will transform their neighborhoods and the city of Chicago.

Grantee Performance

Why We Invested

Chicago Scholars provides high-achieving, students from low-income backgrounds with development opportunities and mentoring to support them through key transitions on the path from high school to college to career. Of the 20 percent of Chicago Public School graduates who graduated with a 3.0 GPA or above in 2015, only 40 percent went on to enroll in a four-year college. Over the last three years,  more than 90 percent of Chicago Scholars students enrolled in a four-year university , greater than 90 percent of enrollees persisted, and over 80 percent earned a bachelor’s degree within six years, a rate far surpassing that of their peers with similar academic credentials and socio-economic backgrounds.

Looking Ahead

A Better Chicago has been consistently compelled by Chicago Scholars’ strong student outcomes and ambitious vision for growth. In 2019, Chicago Scholars embarked on a comprehensive strategic planning process and will continue to advance key strategic priorities, such as strengthening partnerships with colleges and employers; embedding diversity, equity and inclusion practices into its model; strengthening data systems and analytics; and developing digital student tools. Chicago Scholars will also pursue a randomized controlled trial to further validate the impact of its model. Chicago Scholars is continuing its track record of impressive year-over-year growth. Projections indicate that Chicago Scholars will serve 3,830 students in 2021, up from 1,658 just five years ago.

Our Impact

  • DEI Strategy: Chicago Scholars worked with FirstGen Partners to conduct a comprehensive organizational assessment to more intentionally integrate diversity, equity, and inclusion into strategy, operations, and programming. A Better Chicago helped select the consultant and covered 50 percent of the cost.
  • Strategic Planning: Chicago Scholars hired Revolution Impact to develop a multi-year strategic plan to guide Chicago Scholars on its path forward as it continues to grow and evolve. A Better Chicago provided thought partnership throughout and covered 50 percent of the cost.
  • President & Chief Operating Officer Search: Chicago Scholars hired Koya Leadership Partners to support search efforts for a President & Chief Operating Officer role to support its growing team. A Better Chicago helped scope the project, introduced Chicago Scholars to vetted consultants and covered 50 percent of the fees.