One Million Degrees

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  • Investment to Date $2.6M
  • Students Served 805
  • Grantee Since 2013
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One Million Degrees accelerates community college students’ progress on career pathways to economic mobility by providing academic, professional, personal, and financial supports to highly motivated, low-income students pursuing associate’s degrees or post-secondary certificates.

Grantee Performance

Why We Invested

One Million Degrees (OMD) is enabling low-income community college students to earn their degrees at three times the typical rate in Chicago. The City Colleges of Chicago serve more than 80,000 students annually. Unfortunately, only 18 percent of students will earn an associate’s degree or certificate within three years. In contrast, 58 percent of OMD’s most recent cohort earned an associate’s degree or certificate within three years of starting with OMD. One Million Degrees is showing what is possible when talented students are matched with compelling supports. OMD is poised for long-term success with a compelling leadership team, strong civic support, and a track record of effectively scaling.

Looking Ahead

OMD is undertaking a randomized controlled trial and early results are very promising. OMD has grown from serving 252 students in 2015 to over 800 students in its signature program and 50 in its apprenticeship support program today. OMD is planning to serve a similar number of students in 2019. The coming year will be an important one for OMD as the organization adjusts to a newly unionized group of employees and operationalizes its path forward to drive greater impact, following on from the strategic planning process that concluded in early 2018

Our Impact

  • Evaluation: 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 the 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 is participating in Leading for Impact®, a cohort-driven leadership development program run by the Bridgespan group. A Better Chicago is covering 50 percent of the fees.