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REACH wins at 2023 SXSW Pitch Competition

REACH Pathways, Chicago Scholars’ startup focused on our innovative new app, REACH, won the Future of Work category at the 2023 SXSW Pitch competition.

REACH is intended to bring Chicago Scholars’ curriculum to more students in Chicago and beyond. Through a ‘metaversity’ setting and a video-game-like approach, REACH rewards students for completing real-world tasks that will help them get into college and start a career. Partner colleges and businesses will have the ability to interact with a diverse pool of talent, and students will get the opportunity to explore the options available to them early in their educational journeys.

Learn more about REACH here.

From BuiltIn Chicago: Chicago Startup Reach Pathways to Pitch at SXSW

“Chicago Scholars is a nonprofit organization that works to support under-resourced students through college and into their careers. While there are 4,000 students who are eligible to complete the Chicago Scholars’ program every year, the nonprofit can only currently accept 550 into every class. The organization recently launched Reach Pathways as a way to serve more students by using technology. The startup developed REACH, a virtual metaverse platform that digitizes Chicago Scholars’ curriculum,” writes Ashley Bowden of BuiltIn Chicago.

Read more of BuiltIn’s coverage of REACH here — and see REACH in BuiltIn’s newsletter after its SXSW win!

Chicago Tribune: Chicago Scholars helps 1st-generation students make it to college and succeed

David Jeffries smiled — the kind of smile that started small, then instantly spread across his face. It wasn’t even 10 a.m. yet, and the 18-year-old from Rogers Park had two college acceptance letters tucked away in his folder.

“Going to college means everything to me,” he said.

Jeffries and hundreds of other college-bound seniors from Chicago packed into Navy Pier on a recent Tuesday where rows of college recruiters sat in wait. For the overwhelming majority of the students, many of whom swapped out hoodies and tennis shoes for crisp blazers and shiny oxfords, they were determined to become the first in their families to attend college.

Chicago Scholars Foundation, the nonprofit that spent months prepping the students, doesn’t want them to stop there. The organization’s goal is to change the criterion of success from merely getting into college — a cause of celebration for any high school kid — to graduating and finding a job, said Milton Rodriguez, the group’s vice president of development.

“We stay with our students through college and ultimately the first couple years of their career,” Rodriguez said. “That’s one of the things that sets our program apart. We really have a seven-year program.”

Chicago Scholars is one of many area nonprofits to receive financial support from Chicago Tribune Charities, a McCormick Foundation fund…

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Chicago Sun Times:
Chicago group helps youngsters attend college
and find a job

Treasury Blake-Marlow took a three-hour trip last summer from Chicago to visit Knox College in Galesburg.

She spent the day touring the campus, sitting in on classes and talking to students. Now, the college is offering the 17-year-old Whitney Young High School senior a $24,000 yearly scholarship. She made the trip with help from the nonprofit Chicago Scholars, which provides a seven-year program to help Chicago area youth attend college.

The program, which starts when teens are juniors in high school, helps low-income or first-generation college students apply to college, remain in college and find a job. Aside from adult mentors, students are peered with other students to provide a supportive network. Since Chicago Scholars started in 1996, more than 1,200 students have completed the program.

Read more…

Catalyst Chicago’s “Take 5 Education News Roundup”

On that note … The Chicago Scholars Foundation, which helps more than a thousand youths enter and persist through college every year, announced last week that it will be opening a new headquarters on DePaul University’s downtown campus. The space will be more than four times the size of its current location, which Chicago Scholars Foundation President Dominique Jordan Turner hopes will help make the organization and its programs more accessible.

“We see relationship-building as critical, and we see our space as a way of making sure we’re always staying connected,” Turner said. “We want it to feel like a college campus–a cool space to hang out, with all the tools and resources our scholars need right in our office.” This year, the foundation reached 350 new college-aspiring students. By 2018, they’re hoping to bring that number up to a thousand.

Read More…

Chicago Scholars Announces Dr. Tamara Hoff Pope as Vice President of Programs

CHICAGO— August 3, 2021– Leading youth development non-profit Chicago Scholars announced Dr. Tamara Hoff Pope as its new Vice President of Programs, a key member of the organization’s leadership. After spending more than a decade advising first-generation and low-income students in pursuit of higher education, Pope will continue this work in her new role overseeing all aspects of Chicago Scholar’s programming to cultivate a more vibrant Chicago, powered by diverse leaders from every community.

“My goal has always been not only to provide mentorship and direction for deserving students as they pursue their educational and career goals, but to build the foundation for long-term success throughout their lives.” Dr. Pope said. “In my new role, I hope to expand avenues that will further our mission to support education access and advocacy in Chicago and beyond.”

A staunch advocate of education equity, Pope has spent her career cultivating the academic, social, and leadership development of first-generation and low-income students in higher education. In her previous role as Chicago Scholars’ Managing Director of College Success, Pope oversaw engagement and connection with Scholars and the College Success Team. She has also taught, mentored and advised high school and undergraduate students through Upward Bound, McNair Scholars and 100 Strong African American freshman recruitment and retention programs.

“Dr. Pope’s ongoing commitment to Chicago Scholars’ mission and her skilled understanding of the unique needs of our students’ paths to success make her beyond equipped for this role,” said Jeffery Beckham, Jr., CEO of Chicago Scholars. “I am looking forward to her continued impact as she begins this new chapter of her career at our organization.”

Pope obtained her bachelor’s degree in Mathematics, master’s degree and doctoral degree in Educational Policy Studies all from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has taught in a number of higher education institutions in the Education/Educational Policy Studies, History, African American Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies departments.

To learn more about the team at Chicago Scholars, click here.

From WBEZ’s Reset with Sasha-Ann Simons: Chicago Scholars Program offers economic, college aid to first generation students

“The Chicago Scholars Program follows students from the end of their junior year of high school through their first job after college.

Reset learns about the program and included initiatives from community leaders,” writes Michael Liptrot of Reset.


Listen to Jeffrey Beckham, David Leon and current Scholar Jair Alvarez here.