Join us on this journey!

This was an exciting week for Chicago Scholars and President and CEO Dominique Jordan Turner as she attended the first Obama Fellow Retreat. Yesterday, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama welcomed the fellows as they began this collaborative journey.

Check out CBS Chicago’s coverage of the day, including an interview with Dominique!

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Last month, Dominique was announced as one of twenty leaders from around the globe chosen to be part of this two-year program meant to scale the impact of their work. This opportunity means that more people than ever will begin to learn about the transformational work happening at Chicago Scholars and our mission to develop the next generation of Chicago leaders.

This happens as we are set to welcome our new class of 715 Scholars, our largest class yet. Your support makes it possible for us to continue to offer our program to even more talented Chicago Scholars.

Join us on this journey, please consider making a donation today to help us as we grow and expand our work during this exciting time!

A Letter from Our CEO on COVID-19

When Chicago Scholars was founded, our objective was to elevate the voices of Chicago’s young and talented people into leadership positions across the city. Since then, we’ve fostered an incredible community of people who support each other, motivate each other, and love each other. Through our Scholars, we have seen that leadership takes many forms, and shines brightest in times of crisis.

Our Scholars, spanning from high school to early career, are stepping up to support their loved ones and those most impacted by COVID-19. Take Cristal, who is leveraging her networks to highlight the unique challenges that low-income, first-generation college students are facing in their transition to virtual learning. Daniel, an alum and Chicago Elementary School teacher, is spending time cooking with his mother. Jeanpierre, a student at Loyola, helped his friends pack and store their belongings during nation-wide college closures. Across the board, we are so proud of our Scholars who are stepping up as leaders and doing what they need to care for themselves and others.

During this COVID-19 outbreak, things continue to evolve rapidly. Amidst this uncertainty, we continue to stay focused on people: getting our Scholars, our staff, and our community through this crisis and into a stable and hopeful future.

To this end, we have expanded our Emergency Lifeline Grant funding and created the Chicago Scholars Response Fund to support our Scholars with emergency funding for expenses like travel, rent, utilities, and technology resources as they and their families adapt to closed college campuses and losses of income associated with industry-wide closures.

Our staff continues to work tirelessly and collaboratively to transition our programming and events into meaningful virtual gatherings. This includes our Scholar Interview Nights, where Chicago-area professionals have the opportunity to help us select our next class of Scholars. You can still sign up for volunteer shifts on our website. Our staff, mentors, and counselors are also helping our Scholars in high school choose the best college for them; keeping our Scholars in college on track to graduation and launching them into fulfilling careers; and continuing to offer our Scholar Alums career and networking resources to ensure they maintain a growth mindset and nurture their leadership skills.

This work is not just about our Scholars but ensuring Chicago as a whole makes it through this crisis stronger and more unified than ever. We are strengthening our ties with community partners to identify and meet the needs of the people we serve. We are working with our corporate and foundation partners to envision how best to provide summer internships – a critical milestone in leadership and career development – in our changing and uncertain workforce. Our Associate Board is identifying ways to transition our UnTied fundraiser to a virtual platform and elevate the leadership of this year’s 35 Under 35. We are reaching out to families to ensure that they have not only knowledge, but access to both local and federal resources. You can view our compilation of resources here.

The true test of a leader is how one responds over time and under pressure. Determining how to respond to uncertainty is, quite frankly, uncertain. All of us face the question: how do you know what to do when you don’t know what to do? At a time when we want to hold those dearest to us close, we are told that we must stay distant, for the safety of them and the public at large. As a mother, friend, non-profit CEO, and proud Chicagoan, I know that our city and its people are resilient and tenacious. We have already seen incredible forms of leadership and solidarity as our Scholars and partners band together to uplift those most in need. Caring for each other is how we emerge stronger and more unified than ever.

Where is the Class of 2020 headed this fall?

On Tuesday, Class of 2020 Scholars announced their college decisions at our annual College Choice Celebration. Here’s where they plan to enroll this fall:

Adrian College

Agnes Scott College

Albion College

American Academy of Art

Amherst College

Augustana College

Aurora University

Ball State University

Bates College

Benedictine University

Bowdoin College

Bradley University

CCC, Harold Washington College


CCC, Malcolm X College

CCC, Olive-Harvey College

Central Michigan University

Claremont McKenna College

Colgate University

Columbia College Chicago

Cornell University

Culinary Institute of America

Dartmouth College

Davidson College

Denison University

DePaul University

DePauw University

Dominican University

Eastern Illinois University

Elmhurst College

Emory University

George Washington University

Georgetown University

Governors State University

Grand Valley State University

Hampton University

Harvard University

Harvey Mudd College

Haverford College

Hope College

Howard University

Illinois Institute of Technology

Illinois State University

Iowa State University

Jackson State University

Kalamazoo College

Knox College

Lake Forest College

Lawrence University

Lehigh University

Lewis University

Loyola University Chicago

Loyola University New Orleans

Macalester College

Marquette University

Michigan State University

Middlebury College

Middlesex University

Morehouse College

North Carolina A&T State University

North Park University

Northeastern Illinois University

Northern Illinois University

Northwestern University

Oakton Community College

Oberlin College

Pitzer College

Pomona College

Saint Xavier University

Southern Illinois University, Carbondale

Spelman College

St. Olaf College

Stanford University

Taylor University

Tennessee State University

Trinity College

United States Naval Academy

University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff

University of Chicago

University of Illinois at Chicago

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

University of Indianapolis

University of Iowa

University of Michigan

University of Missouri Kansas City

University of Pennsylvania

University of San Francisco

University of South Alabama

University of Southern California

University of Tampa

University of Wisconsin, Madison

University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

Valparaiso University

Vanderbilt University

Washington University in St. Louis

Wesleyan University

Western Illinois University

Xavier University of Louisiana

Youngstown State University

Our Summer Challenge


We welcomed the Class of 2021 as our biggest class of Scholars and engaged more than 200 mentors to guide them through the college application process.

We cheered the Class of 2020 as they were accepted into colleges and universities around the country and announced their college decisions.

We connected the Classes of 2018 and 2019 with junior and senior Peer Mentors to help them maximize their first years at school.

We expanded the networks of the Class of 2017 and facilitated summer internships and employment opportunities.

We celebrated the Class of 2016 as they graduated from college, often the first in their families to receive a college diploma.

We engaged alumni to become leaders in Chicago and helped them find opportunities with employers and graduate schools.


As we join the Scholars in celebration of their achievements, we know that we are here today because of supporters like you who volunteer, mentor and give financially to Chicago Scholars. It is this community of support that empowers determined, bright young people to lead, drive change, and make Chicago the best place to live, work, and raise a family.

Now we need your help to make an even bigger impact this coming year. If you donate now, your donation will be doubled by a grant from a generous donor, who has agreed to match up to $20,000.

Please help us maximize this grant and ensure Scholars like Christopher (’20)Michera (’15), and Melissa (’16) reach their highest potential.


Dominique Jordan Turner featured on WCIU’s You & Me

Dominique Jordan Turner joined “You & Me” hosts Jeanne Sparrow and Melissa Forman on WCIU this morning to discuss how high school students can become the “ideal college candidates” and better there chances of getting accepted into their dream school.

Perfecting the college application is central to the Launch phase of Chicago Scholars program, and the first year of our seven-year program is focused on the college admissions process. Dominique shared some of our best practices that any high school student can use to improve their application.

Watch the video by clicking below!


Coronavirus-Related Resources for Chicago’s Underserved Communities

Now, more than ever, it’s important for us to band together and support our city’s most vulnerable populations. Below, we have compiled a list of resources to support people and communities most impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, and ways you can get involved. If there are additional resources that we should be including, please directly email our Senior Associate of Communications, Anthony Santa Maria.










  • Access living has put together these resources.


  • 5 ways to help teens manage anxiety about coronavirus.

  • Mental Health America has compiled resources for disease outbreaks.


  • Thrive Chicago has put together resources spanning education, food access, employment and housing assistance, and more.

Chicago Scholars announces REACH, a first-of-its-kind platform to close the gap between talent and opportunity

For over two decades, Chicago Scholars has empowered nearly 6,000 high-performing, under-resourced students to overcome systemic barriers to success in college. In addition to its wraparound support for Chicago-based students, Chicago Scholars has created REACH, a first-of-its-kind app designed to connect top talent with professional opportunities in ways that feel less like homework and more like a video game. 

REACH connects students, employers, colleges, and community partners in the virtual world, driving awareness and closing the gap between talent and opportunity. Students will earn badges and rewards for completing real-life tasks related to college and career success, such as applying for jobs and connecting with mentors. In addition, they will have access to community, support, and insider knowledge that often needs to be added for high-performing, under-resourced students whose families and friends may not have experience with college and the careers students would like to pursue.

Chicago Scholars CEO and REACH Pathways co-CEO Jeffery Beckham, Jr. presented this innovative opportunity as a finalist in the SXSW Pitch 2023, a competition showcasing innovative new technology to a panel of industry experts, high-profile media professionals, venture capital investors, and angel investors. REACH Pathways was the only Chicago-based startup to be recognized as a finalist in the 2023 pitch competition. REACH Pathways received an award in the Future of Work category, which focuses on technologies that enable, empower, change, and expand capabilities in the future of work and the working experience. 

“We’re honored to receive SXSW’s Future of Work award for REACH,” said Beckham. “It is important that our mission bridges the gap between talent and opportunity for students to succeed. REACH Pathways will achieve this through its access to community, support, and insider knowledge – this award is a testament to that mission.” 

Chicago Scholars is the largest education nonprofit in Chicago, welcoming 500-600 of the city’s most ambitious and driven underrepresented students into its class each year. Following the seven-year program, students have a 95% college enrollment rate, graduate at twice the rate of their peers, and 50% earn more than their parents did or are in management roles just a few years after college graduation. But the remaining 88% of eligible Chicago students – not to mention the millions of high-performing, under-resourced students nationwide – also deserve support. 

“To achieve our vision of a vibrant Chicago powered by diverse leaders from every neighborhood, we need to serve those students,” said Brooke McKean, co-CEO of REACH and President of Chicago Scholars. “We’re proud of the intimate and individualized approach we provide our Scholars. Pairing that with the REACH app, we can spread our impact and take a major step forward in developing the leaders of tomorrow.”

“REACH Pathways is grounded in the belief that a student’s zip code shouldn’t determine their life outcomes. Success looks like diverse young adults accessing better careers, increasing their lifetime earnings, and creating multi-generational wealth – in Chicago and beyond,” said Beckham.

For more information on REACH and to get involved as a college or corporate partner, volunteer, or bring REACH to a specific community, visit

From Forbes: How Chicago Scholars Is Changing The Lives Of Young Men Of Color

“Due to systemic discrimination and attacks on affirmative action, over the past few years college enrollment for Black men has dropped by 14.8%, and Latino men’s enrollment decreased by 10.3% in the United States. The Chicago Scholars, a nonprofit dedicated to fostering opportunity, is working to combat these decreases in enrollment with their newly launched program, Young Men of Color. With this initiative, Chicago Scholars is committed to increasing the young men of color served by their college access programs, and enriching their lives,” writes Marybeth Gasman of Forbes.

Read the full article here.



Chicago Scholars
247 S. State Street, Suite 700
Chicago, IL 60604




Chicago Scholars
247 S. State Street, Suite 700
Chicago, IL 60604