National Nonprofit Launches in Chicago, Calls for More College Grads
Anchor Zoraida Sambolin, Author Rodney Walker, 24-Year-Old Ceo Zoe Damacela & Northwestern Professor Michele Rogers To Lead Student Summit
On Wednesday, a group of 100 low-income college-bound students will hear from a lineup of their heroes on what it takes to graduate at a daylong college summit, Closing Chicago’s Degree Divide. The summit will celebrate the first cohort served by College Possible in Chicago and kick off six years of comprehensive college coaching that will see students through their graduation days. College Possible has coached low-income students to and through college since 2000 and is working in 6 cities from coast-to-coast this fall.
Summit keynote speakers are:
- NBC5 News Today Anchor, Zoraida Sambolin
- 24-year-old Macy’s designer and cover model Zoe Damacela
- Director of Chicago Partnerships at Northwestern University Michele Rogers and
- Author Rodney Walker
Only 14 percent of Chicago Public School students earn a 4-year degree and 86 percent of the city’s students come from low-income families. Nationally, 8 percent of low-income students earn degrees compared to the 80 percent of upper-income American students who earn a college degree.
College Possible students graduate at rates ten times higher than their peers, positioning them to earn 1 million dollars more over a lifetime. The organization will reach over 140 students in the core program and over 350 students through citywide college workshops.
College Possible is working with four Chicago partner schools this year―at Bowen, Lake View, Thomas Kelly High School as well as Marine Leadership Academy―and aims to serve 2,400 students annually in five years. College Possible’s coaching sessions cover ACT/SAT test preparation, application support and financial aid consulting pre-college. Once students enter college, coaches focus on financial literacy, good study habits and addressing individual barriers to college graduation.
College Possible Chicago’s Executive Director Christine Poorman said, “I’m honored to lead this organization in Chicago and feel passionately that a young person’s ability to earn a college degree should be driven by their talent, motivation and effort and not their income. Chicago’s low-income students, if given support, will graduate from college, develop a unique set of skills and experiences and become Chicago’s next generation of leaders.”
Keynote speaker, journalist and anchor Zoraida Sambolin expressed excitement at the organization’s move to Chicago, “College Possible does exactly as its names suggests. It makes college graduation a reality for thousands of low-income young people. The kids are supported from high school through college graduation and given the resources, advice and support necessary to succeed. Lucky for us they are now in Chicago!”
Bowen High School Principal Nia Abdullah welcomed College Possible to the community, “Bowen High School is located in South Chicago where less than 15 percent of the residents have earned a 4-year degree. We recognized two years ago that our counselor and college and career coach could not adequately support our students as they navigated the myriad pitfalls on the road to college enrollment and graduation. What we like about College Possible is the dedication that the team has shown in their recruitment effort. Alison [College Possible coach] is great with the students and really seems to be connecting with them and making the process fun and engaging for them. She has great energy, and her upbeat attitude is just what students need for motivation during the prep sessions.”
Bowen junior Lashawn Iverson explains why she’s joined College Possible; “I want to go to college for those who couldn’t make it. I don’t want to be another statistic of those who graduate high school and then get a job. I want more and expect better things for myself.”
A recent Harvard University evaluation shows that College Possible’s approach is effective and that students served are significantly more likely to enroll in a four year college.
WHO/WHAT: Student Summit: Closing Chicago’s Degree Divide
- NBC News Today Anchor Zoraida Sambolin, Macy’s designer Zoe Damacela; Director of Chicago Partnerships at Northwestern University Michele Rogers and author Rodney Walker join forces to inspire low-income students to pursue college.
- 100 plus low-income, college-bound students gather to find answers to their questions, address their fears and share their excitement around college.
- Additional youth leaders, educators and college representatives deliver remarks to cheer students on and begin building their knowledge on getting to and through college.
11/18/2015, 9:00 a.m.-1 p.m.
Chicago History Museum, 1601 N Clark St, Chicago, IL
- Decked out in College Possible t-shirts designed by Johnnie Lovett—cheer on one another and peers who’ve gone before them in the historic Rubloff theatre.
- Receive college advice and inspiration from heroes who have proven earning a degree is possible!
- Are introduced to college representatives after receiving instruction on attending their first college fair.
College Possible leadership, coaches, summit speakers and college-bound students from Chicago are available for interview.
College Possible is making college admission and success possible for low-income students through an intensive curriculum of coaching and support. College Possible operates in Minnesota, Milwaukee, Omaha, Portland, Philadelphia and Chicago.