“It’s Payback Time”

Joseph Pedott was a teen in need. After leaving home at 16, a local Chicago organization helped him get back on his feet and enroll at the University of Illinois.

While in college, Pedott and a friend started a small advertising company producing television commercials for retail and automotive clients using the profits to cover their college tuition. A few years later, after relocating to San Francisco, he founded Joseph Pedott Advertising & Marketing. He is the advertising genius behind the Chia Pet and the Clapper; iconic products with extremely catchy jingles that helped build his advertising empire. Both products are now part of the Smithsonian Institution’s archives.

Pedott credits his achievements to SGA Youth & Family Services, which helped him as a teenager and continues to support Chicago’s youth. In 2012, Pedott launched the Joseph Pedott Charitable Fund to bring more resources to Chicago’s low-income youth through investments in several nonprofits.

“I was one of those kids,” he said. “At the age of 16, I was on my own. I know how tough it was not only to survive but earn enough money to get through college.”

As a result of his experiences, Pedott believes in the power of mentors and that a college degree has the ability to change the trajectory of a person’s life. Research shows that college graduates earn over $1 million more in their lifetimes than those without a degree and is one of the surest ways to break intergenerational poverty. His support is helping more low-income students become college graduates.

“I’ve had four open-heart surgeries, I shouldn’t be here,” he once said. “It’s payback time. My goal is to help as many kids as I can. I’d just like to help.”

As steward of his funds, the Chicago Community Trust, one of the oldest community foundations, is working to support nonprofits specifically targeted to youth and education. College Possible was honored to be one of the organizations selected by the Joseph Pedott Charitable Fund.

“To me, giving back is an honor and a privilege, not an obligation. It makes me feel good,” Pedott said.

Pedott’s support of College Possible Chicago during our second year, was instrumental in supporting 345 CPS high school students in the 2016-17 academic year with great success; 98 percent of our seniors were accepted into a 4-year college and this fall, 83 percent of our high school graduates enrolled in college. We look forward to continuing our successes and furthering our partnership with the Joseph Pedott Charitable Fund.

  • Meet Jessica

    “Making it through college, a step that people think is impossible for students with backgrounds like mine, is the most amazing thing.”

    Read their story
  • Meet Huy

    “If I could describe my experience as a college student in one word—it would be ‘amazing!'”

    Read their story
Join our email list Join