OneGoal Celebrates 10th Anniversary with Graduation Gala
The signature fundraising event raised $1.3 million and honored the more than 15,000 students the organization has served since its inception
CHICAGO (May 9, 2018) — OneGoal celebrated its 10th anniversary and raised $1.3 million at its annual Graduation Gala at Morgan Manufacturing in Chicago’s West Loop. The Graduation Gala honors OneGoal’s graduating high school seniors on track to earning a college degree, as well the organization’s partners and supporters.
“The degree divide is deep and complex, and the solution will need to match that depth and complexity. Our education system, our economy, our society were all designed to maintain privilege for the few,” said Jeff Nelson, co-founder and CEO of OneGoal. “This is no accident. Yet we at OneGoal get to work alongside brilliant students every day. Seeing their leadership gives us the certainty that when we can unlock student agency, we can and we will close the degree divide. But we can not do it on our own. ”
Local philanthropists Gary and Denise Gardner and their family received the organization’s John J. Dugan Award for their dedication to OneGoal and the students, known as Fellows, it serves across Chicago.
Notable attendees of the Graduation Gala included Chicago Public Schools Chief Executive Officer, Janice Jackson; former Olympian Jackie Joyner-Kersee; Liz Thompson, president of the Cleveland Avenue Foundation; and Steve Pemberton, best-selling author and chief human resources officer of Globoforce.
“My very nature is to defy, not to accept labels placed on me — like OneGoal does not accept the label placed on its students,” Pemberton said during his keynote address. “I am not an exception. I am truly a reflection of a great future that awaits you.”
Since its founding in Chicago 10 years ago, OneGoal has expanded to include six regions across the United States and has served more than 15,000 students. In communities where students typically have a 22 percent chance of graduating from college, 82 percent of OneGoal Fellows are enrolling in college and 78 percent are persisting in college or have graduated.
The gala also included remarks from OneGoal – Chicago Executive Director, Sarah Berghorst; OneGoal Fellow A.J. Rucker, a freshman at DePaul University; and OneGoal Alumna Evelyn Ruiz, a junior at Northeastern Illinois University.
“It’s because of the work that OneGoal does that students like me have a chance. It’s because of OneGoal that the number of Chicago students who enroll in colleges is growing,” she said. “It’s because of OneGoal that students who need that extra help can get it. It’s because of OneGoal that graduating from college is no longer a dream, but my goal. Period.”
OneGoal makes college graduation a reality for all students. We collaborate closely with public schools in low-income communities, providing teachers with a robust curriculum, technology, training and coaching to implement our three-year model with a group of 25 students (called Fellows) per cohort. Teachers (called Program Directors) support the same group of Fellows beginning in their junior year of high school and bridge the gap through their first year of college. In communities where students typically have a 22% chance of graduating from college, 82% of OneGoal Fellows are enrolling in college and 78% are persisting in college or have graduated. OneGoal works in Chicago, Houston, Massachusetts, Metro Atlanta, New York and recently expanded to the Bay Area.