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The CS Ways Blog: We Understand the Assignment

From the moment a Scholar, family member, board members, or staff enters the Chicago Scholars office, our purpose, goals, and outcomes are clear. The purpose of Chicago Scholars is to  ensure that Chicago’s best students receive the college counseling, mentoring, and supportive community they need to move from high school to college and career. Our goals are to help Scholars navigate the college application process so they can enroll in the college that best matches their needs and begin building leadership skills. The immediate outcome is that our Scholars feel supported throughout these challenging years of their lives; the long-term outcome is a city where ambitious, motivated students meet their full potential regardless of their Zip code, family resources or financial situation. This is the assignment we have given ourselves – the assignment that we made our mission.

As our website proudly displays, our 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 our city.” In our day to day work, we   carry out our mission through what we call the CS Way: We Dream Big, We Show Up, We Embrace Our Difference, We Model the Way, We Care For Each Other, and We Keep Our Word. These are values that many organizations claim, but at Chicago Scholars, we put them into practice in everything we do.

Our Scholars have an assignment too —  Enroll, Engage, and Enrich! Our application process is rigorous and competitive. Our team expects a high level of engagement in our 1:1 College Counseling and participation in our Onsite Career and Leadership Forum. These are all tools our Scholars are expected to use to build a career that opens the door to economic mobility.

Our high school partners – teachers, counselors, principals – have an assignment too: encourage your students to apply. You know your students best! We heavily rely on high school visits, nominations, and attendance at our Open House events during recruitment season. The reason we have an opportunity to share our story with prospective Scholars is due to our school partnerships. We are grateful that high school across Chicago welcome us into their space.

The assignment for our community partners (Board members, community-based organizations, volunteers) is to share your time, talent, and resources with our Dream Team members. This allows the CS staff to carry out the day-to-day work required to ensure each Scholar has the support needed for success.

This is what you will receive when you come to my weekly blog: a real-time look at the strategies, challenges, and triumphs of our CS Ways, insights into recruiting participants and inspiring disengaged students, and the resources we use in our work. These resources are critical to setting us up for success and I want to share our knowledge with you!

Nameka R. Bates, Ph.D.

Managing Director of College Access