One Million Degrees

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  • Investment to Date $4.6M
  • Students Served 743
  • Grantee Since 2013
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One Million Degrees (OMD) empowers highly motivated community college students from low-income backgrounds to succeed in school, work, and life by providing academic, professional, personal, and financial supports. One Million Degrees’ scholarship and development model provides financial assistance through last-dollar scholarships and stipends, three-year workshop programming to build professional and social skills, and personalized coaching and academic assistance.

Grantee Performance

Why We Invested

One Million Degrees (OMD) is enabling community college students from low-income backgrounds to earn their degrees at two to three times the typical rate in Chicago. A randomized controlled trial conducted by the University of Chicago Inclusive Economy Lab validates OMD’s programmatic strength. Results from the study demonstrate that the randomized offer of a spot in the OMD program leads to a statistically significant and substantively meaningful increase in community college enrollment, persistence, and associate’s degree attainment three years after randomization. OMD has consistently focused on growth and has a track record of innovative strategic partnerships to reach more students and realize systems-level change. 

Looking Ahead

One Million Degrees (OMD) is continuing to innovate its core model, reduce barriers to enrollment, provide more individualized supports, and integrate technology into its model. The organization will amplify its impact by strengthening existing partnerships and exploring new opportunities with systems-level institutions, such as City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) and the Chicago Public Schools (CPS). OMD plans to expand its Earn and Learn program, which supports students via apprenticeships with various Chicagoland employers. OMD’s systems-level strategies have also been critical to scaling impact. Although we cannot concretely quantify the number of students that will benefit from these efforts yet, OMD is driving significant improvements to the ways large institutions support community college students across the Chicago region and beyond. 

Our Impact

  • Evaluation: One Million Degrees (OMD) is partnering with the University of Chicago’s Urban Labs to complete a randomized control trial. This multi-year research study launched in 2017. A Better Chicago helped with the planning process and secured funding for the study.
  • Strategic Planning: OMD worked with a consulting firm to develop its most recent long-term strategic plan and identify and prioritize future opportunities for growth. A Better Chicago helped scope the project and covered 50 percent of the fees.
  • Leadership Development: OMD’s leadership team participated in Leading for Impact®, a cohort-driven leadership development program run by the Bridgespan group. A Better Chicago covered 50 percent of the fees.
  • HR & Operations: OMD participated in a project with LightBee Consulting to support hiring for key staff positions.