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As of 2022, only 36% of current Chicago Scholars identified as young men, and only 28% as Black or Latine men. We know that when young men of color enroll in Chicago Scholars, they are far more likely to earn a college credential and be employed than their peers. But too often, young men of color are sidetracked in tenth grade, when the resources earmarked for first years runs out. With our partner organizations, we’re dedicated to addressing this disparity.

The Why

Shifting the Narrative, Changing the Outcome

Only one in eight Black men and one in five Latine men who graduate from Chicago Public Schools will complete a college credential within 10 years, and young men of color experience higher disengagement rates in school and work than any other racial and gender groups. Equally dire is the harmful public narrative around men of color in our society, which affects how young men of color are perceived by others and understand their own struggles. With our partners at Project OneTen, Becoming a Man (BAM), Youth Guidance, and CHAMPS Male Mentoring, Chicago Scholars’ Young Men of Color Initiative seeks to not only offer support for these young men to stay on track, but create positive narratives about people who look like them.

The How

Our Commitment

In Summer 2022, Chicago Scholars’ launched a set of Young Men of Color Initiatives pilot programs, which brought 60+ tenth-grade men of color into relationship with Chicago Scholars two years before they were eligible to apply for our core program. We seek to increase the enrollment of young men of color in the core Chicago Scholars program by 10% by 2025 (Class of 2030) and more closely align our resources with the needs of young men of color. We also seek to focus more strongly on the Auburn Gresham, Austin, Back of the Yards, Brighton Park, Greater Grand Crossing, Little Village, North Lawndale, Roseland, South Shore, and Woodlawn neighborhoods as we recruit new Scholars.



Shifting the public narrative to amplify positive stories about young men of color and highlight their unique identities, voices and abilities.


Working with other youth-focused nonprofits to ensure a “warm hand-off” from one program to another, creating a continuous support structure for young men as they work toward college and careers.


Ensuring all young men of color enrolled in Chicago Scholars programming are matched with staff, mentors, counselors, volunteers and institutions that look like them, acknowledge their unique identities and perspectives, and/or have shared lived experiences with them.


Forming affinity groups for current Scholars, Alumni, and Young Men of Color Initiatives participants

Building a Community

The Chicago Scholars community is made up of a diverse pool of professionals, college and corporate partners, community-based organizations, and civic leaders who all believe in our vision of a vibrant Chicago powered by diverse leaders from every neighborhood. We believe that by bringing more young men of color into this community, we are not only providing them resources to follow their passions through college to a career, but giving them mentors and role models who look like them. Through our collaboration with other youth-based nonprofits in Chicago, we’re expanding this community every day.