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Chicago’s Best and Brightest Interview with Colleges from Across the U.S. at the Onsite College and Leadership Forum


On Tuesday, October 22, at Navy Pier, 1,068 high school students from Chicago Scholars and other Chicagoland-based organizations gathered to have in-person interviews with some of the top colleges and universities in the country at the Onsite College and Leadership Forum. At Chicago Scholars, our students have spent the month of October preparing for Onsite by participating in college selection advising sessions, college application reviews, and interview coaching. At Onsite, all of our Scholars’ hard work paid off—there were more than 1,100 offers of admission and $42 million in merit scholarships awarded. And those numbers are still growing. Click here to see the latest updates.


Armani Washington discusses her Onsite experience with ABC7 Chicago.

On top of all of this, the students who received offers of admission at Onsite are among the first in the nation to get college acceptances. Armani Washington, a Chicago Scholar and senior at Lane Tech High School, was one of those students. By the end of Onsite, Armani had an acceptance letter from Butler University and the opportunities to interview with other top schools on her list, including Duke and Yale. And because of the Chicago Public Schools’ strike, Armani got her first college acceptance on a day when classes were canceled. “Knowing my top colleges are done and I don’t have to worry about the strike coming into play, that is so amazing,” Armani said.

The Onsite College and Leadership Forum demonstrates how the belief and support from the larger Chicago community can be transformative for our Scholars. The event also hosted an annual luncheon to help cover the cost of Onsite and support the work of Chicago Scholars. During the luncheon, Chicago Scholar Marilyn Schatzel shared with attendees how she was accepted to DePaul University in 2018. “Last year at Onsite I interviewed with DePaul University, and at the end of the interview, I was accepted and offered a scholarship for half of my tuition,” Marilyn said. “I started crying when I got the acceptance and the money. My parents cried when I told them. My parents have always believed in me. It meant everything to be able to show my mom that everything she had done for me had paid off.”


Chicago Scholar Marilyn Schatzel shares her story at the Onsite College and Leadership Forum Luncheon.

Marilyn currently serves on Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Youth Commission with other Chicago youth, including fellow Chicago Scholar Arnrae Woodard. Arnrae, who also spoke at the luncheon, passionately shared his belief in himself and Chicago’s youth to address Chicago’s most pressing issues. Arnrae pledged to “help other youth rise to the challenge and create their own opportunities to change our city Chicago for the better.” As a senior at Morgan Park High School, Arnrae also interviewed with his top choice colleges at Onsite.

Arnrae Woodard, a Chicago Scholar and senior at Morgan Park High School, speaks at the Onsite College and Leadership Forum Luncheon.

While acceptance to college is an essential component for future success, we know that it is not the finish line for our students. Chicago Scholars supports students beyond gaining access to higher education to ensure persistence through college and that our Scholars graduate ready to lead in top industries and make a difference in their communities. This work would not be possible without the support and belief of our partners.

During the luncheon, Chicago Scholars CEO Dominique Jordan Turner honored the work of our partners who are committed to Chicago Scholars’ vision of a diverse Chicago powered by leaders from every neighborhood. Accepting awards were City Clerk Anna M. Valencia on behalf of Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, the University of Chicago, Mikva Challenge, Turner Construction, and Chicago Scholars Alum Nicole Johnson. “I’m proud to say that these are the organizations, companies, and individuals who are already modeling the way in their respective fields when it comes to creating a culture of belief and support for our young people in communities in Chicago,” said Turner of the honorees.



From left to right: Vice Provost Daniel Abebe accepting on behalf of University of Chicago; CEO Michelle Morales accepting on behalf of Mikva Challenge, Illinois Chapter; Chicago Scholars CEO Dominque Jordan Turner; Nicole Johnson accepting the Chicago Scholars Alumni Award; Vice President and General Manager Rick Blair accepting on behalf of Turner Construction.

The annual luncheon raised more than $550,000 to cover the cost of the Onsite College and Leadership Forum and further support the work of Chicago Scholars. This amazing day would not have been possible without the support of our corporate and individual sponsors—Best Portion Foundation, Northern Trust, Turner Construction, West Monroe Partners, BMO Harris Bank, UBS, Chapman and Cutler LLP, Constellation Brands, Cubs Scholars, Deloitte, Eaton Vance, EY, Jenner & Block / Reginald and Kimberly Hill, Greg Kranias, Joseph and Jennifer Lansing, and Loop Capital.

Onsite would also not have been possible without the support of our college and university partners—Denison University, University of Illinois at Chicago, Columbia College Chicago, Claremont McKenna College, Southern Illinois University, St. Olaf College, and Vanderbilt University.

We know our Scholars have the talent. Our partners help us make sure they are met by belief and opportunity.

You can find additional coverage of Onsite on ABC7, WBBM, and WTTW.