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Chicago Innovation Award Winner

One Million Degrees

Winner in: 2016
Winner Category: Neighborhood Award
Industry: Non-Profit

One Million Degrees is a nonprofit serving nearly 700 low-income students in traditionally underserved areas of Chicago who attend the seven City Colleges of Chicago as well as four partner community colleges in suburban Cook and Lake Counties. OMD’s unique and effective model of academic, personal, professional, and financial supports, its Scholar Development Program, ensures more students receive their associate’s degrees and launch upwardly mobile professional careers. For the first time this academic year, OMD has embedded full-time trained staff at eight regional community colleges, providing students and the colleges themselves with real-time assistance to prevent college drop-out and promote student success. The outcome opportunity of this innovation has the capability to transform the lives of our scholars and offer an extensive return to the local and regional economies. Since our inception in 2006, 65% of OMD Scholars have received their associate’s degree and 77% of alumni have gone on to pursue their bachelor’s degree (while just 13% of entering community college students nationwide receive their bachelor’s degree). Researchers estimate that the return on investment of each associate’s degree earned is $530,000 in earnings, tax revenue, and savings on social expenditures.

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