OneGoal – Chicago Celebrates Graduating Seniors at Annual Gala
CHICAGO, May 9, 2019 — Leading college access and success organization OneGoal celebrated the Class of 2019 at its annual graduation gala on Wednesday, May 8. The signature event raised $1.4 million toward OneGoal’s mission of closing the college degree divide.
OneGoal’s Chief Program Officer Melissa Connelly, who will assume the role of CEO on May 24, shared her vision for the organization and addressed educational inequity.
“Today our education system is designed to privilege the few, not the many, but we envision a world where every young person has an equitable opportunity to achieve their greatest aspirations,” said Connelly. “Although we’ve made great strides in the last 10 years, the reality is nearly all high school students aspire to education beyond high school. Students from low-income communities are three times less likely than their peers from high-income areas to attain a degree or credential by age 25. There is an incredibly wide aspiration-attainment gap and we simply must do better.”
Local philanthropists Kimbra and Mark Walter, and their daughter, Sam, received the organization’s John J. Dugan Award for their dedication to OneGoal. Previous honorees, Liz and Don Thompson of the Cleveland Avenue Foundation, presented the award.
“We’ve invested in OneGoal because we believe in the young people in the room and the talent in Chicago,” said Kimbra Walter. “These students are incredibly intelligent, brilliant and talented. They just need the opportunities that OneGoal provides.”
Since its founding in Chicago 11 years ago, OneGoal has expanded to include six regions across the United States and will serve more than 13,500 students by the end of the 2018-19 school year. In communities where students typically have a 22 percent chance of graduating from college, 81 percent of OneGoal Fellows are enrolling in college and 86 percent are persisting in college or have graduated.
The gala also included remarks from OneGoal – Chicago Executive Director Sarah Berghorst and OneGoal Alumnus Jawon Mayberry, a senior at Southern Illinois University.
“Through OneGoal, my program director, Venice, helped me build my academic skills to increase my college options, and develop real life skills like resilience, goal setting, and resourcefulness,” Mayberry said. “Through OneGoal, Venice ignited my leadership potential – in academics and in my life. She helped me realize that I was already a leader – and that I just needed to push beyond my own expectations. Venice challenged me to strive for greater.”
OneGoal is a national organization of teachers, students, school leaders and education advocates working to close the degree divide and ensure all young people have an equitable opportunity to achieve their greatest postsecondary aspirations. 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 11th grade and bridge the gap through their first year after high school graduation. In communities where students typically have a 22 percent chance of graduating from college, 81% of OneGoal high school graduates enroll in a postsecondary institution and 86% of those who enroll persist one year later. OneGoal works in the Bay Area, Chicago, Houston, Massachusetts, Metro Atlanta, and New York.