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One Million Degrees

One Million Degrees (OMD) provides holistic, wraparound services to accelerate community college students’ progress on pathways to economic mobility. These services include financial support, academic support, coaching and professional development. Founded in 2006, OMD is the only organization in Illinois providing comprehensive support to low-income community college students to help them succeed in school, life and work. OMD serves 900 scholars per year across all seven City Colleges of Chicago as well as three community colleges in suburban Chicago and has impacted over 3,000 scholars cumulatively.

The central point of connection between a scholar and OMD is the program coordinator embedded within the scholar’s campus. Program coordinators meet bi-weekly with scholars, connect scholars to resources, support goal setting, and help scholars navigate their college’s systems and bureaucracy. Scholars participate in OMD’s scholar development program, a series of workshops designed to help them build the career and personal skills to launch an upwardly mobile career. Volunteer coaches also meet with scholars monthly to provide career planning support, resume reviews, practice interviews, and to help scholars develop meaningful connections to potential employers. Scholars are also eligible for up to $1,000 in participation-based stipends, emergency grants, enrichment grants, and last dollar scholarships which cover the difference between a scholar’s Pell grant or STAR scholarship funding and the cost of tuition.

OMD has built a powerful evidence base in support of our model. The latest results from the University of Chicago’s Inclusive Economy Lab randomized controlled trial (RCT) show that when scholars apply to OMD before enrolling in community college and participate in the program, they are 70% more likely to enroll, 94% more likely to persist from fall to spring semester, and 73% more likely to earn a degree than the control group. Ultimately, 59% of OMD Scholars complete the program and attain an associate degree or advanced certification, successfully transition to a bachelor’s degree program, or do both–more than double that of peers.