Chicago Scholars Wins 2017 College Access Organization Award of Excellence

September 12, 2017

By Allie Ciaramella, Communications Manager

Chicago Scholars received the College Access Organization Award of Excellence today at NCAN’s 22nd annual national conference in San Diego, CA.

The College Access Organization Award of Excellence recognizes the work of a college access/success program that is committed to college access and success so that all students, especially those underrepresented in postsecondary education, can achieve their educational dreams. Dominique Jordan Turner, President and CEO of Chicago Scholars, accepted the award from Linda Thompson, Senior Vice President - Program Administration & Organizational Learning at the Helios Education Foundation.

A seven-year program supporting first-generation, low-income students with college access, success and graduation and leadership development, Chicago Scholars serves more than 2,500 students (a.k.a. “active Scholars”) and 500 alumni. Thanks to scaling already in progress, the 20-year-old program is expected to support more than 4,000 students by 2019. Its three-tiered approach (Launch, Lift, and Lead) helps students (1) enroll and matriculate to the most selective colleges that match and fit their interest and abilities, (2) persist through college to graduation, and (3) transition successfully into careers or post-graduate programs.

The data-driven, research-based program model results in an incredible 88 percent of Scholars graduating with their bachelor’s degree within six years – compared to 50 percent of their peers in Chicago Public Schools – and 92 percent enrolling at a college that’s a good match and fit for them, including at more than 300 selective-to-highly-selective institutions nationwide. Chicago Scholars believes that partnerships and collaboration – be it with colleges, other organizations or companies – can create more, better opportunities for young people and “change the narrative for Chicago’s youth.”

A fine example of that philosophy – and its impressive results – is the annual Onsite Admissions Forum each October, where Chicago Scholars connects officials from over 175 colleges nationwide with more than 1,000 financially under-resourced and first-generation Chicago high school seniors for in-person, one-on-one admissions interviews. Prior to that day, the Scholars and students from 30 other partner organizations apply to up to six colleges, and most receive at least one acceptance letter and a merit aid package at the annual event. In 2016 alone, students gave more than 5,000 interviews, received more than 1,900 admits, and were offered $64 million in merit aid. The event impacts students in almost every Chicago neighborhood.

As the award-winner, Chicago Scholars will receive $5,000 to put toward general operating support, scholarships, and/or professional development. Past winners include:

  • 2016: Academic Success Program, Dallas, TX
  • 2015: College Crusade of Rhode Island, Providence, RI 
  • 2014: Robert and Janice McNair Educational Foundation, Forest City, NC
  • 2013: College Bound, St. Louis, MO
  • 2012: uAspire, Boston MA
  • 2011: College Forward, Austin, TX
  • 2010: Bottom Line, Jamaica Plain, MA
  • 2009: College Possible, St. Paul, MN
  • 2008: Ohio College Access Network, Columbus, OH
  • 2007: Access College Foundation, Norfolk, VA

NCAN solicits nominees from its membership for the annual Awards of Excellence in College Access and Success. A committee of NCAN members reviews all nominations, with final decisions confirmed by the NCAN board of directors. NCAN thanks the eight members of the 2017 Awards Committee for their service:

  • Michelle Alejano, Washington College Access Network
  • Janet Cunningham, Citizens for Educational Excellence
  • Linda Jensen, Arizona College Access Network
  • Zenia Henderson, CollegeTracks
  • Nancy Leopold, CollegeTracks
  • Kaitlyn Sanders, Nativity Miguel Coalition
  • Teresa Steinkamp, Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis
  • Ashley Woodous, ACCESS College Foundation

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