WINTER 2021 GRANT ROUND 3rd RECIPIENT: Chicago Scholars

grant announcement

for March 4, 2021

We are excited to announce our Winter 2021 Grant Round Recipient!

Thanks to our generous donor community, Chicago Scholars is receiving a $25,000 grant towards their College and Career Support for 1st Generation Students Initiative!

Chicago Scholars believes that education is social justice and that success shouldn’t be determined by zip code or economic status. Without strong supports and resources, many of Chicago’s first generation or low-income youth would not navigate the road of selecting and getting to the right college well. A widely held belief that college is the finish line, has resulted in Scholars graduating with little to no work experience, setting them on a pathway to underemployment when entering the working world and thusly, increasing the racial wealth gap.

Chicago Scholars offers a unique 7-year, holistic program with a proven match-fit algorithm as the foundation to students who have demonstrated leadership and are committed to furthering their education. Their mission is to uniquely select, train, and mentor academically ambitious students from under-resourced communities to complete college and become the next generation of leaders who will transform their neighborhoods and their city.  Chicago Scholars serves as a leadership incubator that empowers students, who are often first in their families to attend college, to overcome systematic barriers while preparing the city’s businesses and organizations for the next generations of leaders. They begin working with students the summer after their junior year of high school and support them through critical transitions to and through college, and into their careers. Their curriculum includes individualized college counseling, career coaching, internship opportunities, and leadership skill development.

Chicago Scholars has served over 5,000 youth and there are over 4,200 Scholars in college, high school, and careers across the city of Chicago and the country coming from all 77 neighborhoods in the city. Scholars, corporate and college partners, staff, and Board are recruited to reflect the city’s racial diversity with an emphasis on the most historically underserved students.  The dual pandemic has increased the social, emotional, financial, college and career planning needs of the students. This grant supports key priorities from their strategic plan including the deepening of current supports and development of the Scholar Portal which is an innovation to program delivery that will allow them to more effectively and efficiently serve high school Scholars in a virtual environment as well as the thousands of Scholars at colleges across the country with career exploration and professional development activities.

This investment will be leveraged to help Chicago Scholars develop the Scholar Portal, an online platform that will increase efficiencies of delivering supports and trainings to Scholars across the country as well as create platforms for revenues through advertising. They are optimistic that in 2-3 years, the platform will pay for itself through earned revenue. They roughly estimate earning about $100,000 annually in ads and corporate licenses (a career search tool for corporate partners to access portal and recruit students) through the portal.

Additionally, the Legacy Collective grant will allow them to satisfy and solicit additional match-grant opportunities. Chicago Scholars is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2021 and one of the campaign pillars is Innovation and Technology. With an investment from Legacy Collective, they will see greater interests from current funders to also invest in the initiative. Per their strategic plan and with the investment in building out their development resources (people and systems), they have developed a strategy to diversify and grow revenue systems. Other efforts that allow them to focus on their core include: 1) Strengthening organizational culture, engagement, support and retention – this allows them to ensure continuity of information and relationships which positively impacts donor relations and 2) Improve data quality and use in programs and operations – stronger data collection and program evaluation allows them to tell a positive upward trend in Scholar outcomes and identify areas that are high-stakes areas of opportunity (such as internships for all). All of these factors will allow Chicago Scholars to continue to sustain and grow the impact of the Legacy Collective grant.

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