UMOJA STUDENT DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION

Rating: 5 stars   12 reviews

Issues: Education

Location: 954 West Washington Blvd, Suite 225 Chicago IL 60607 USA

Mission: Umoja partners with Chicago’s most challenged public high schools to create positive, youth-centered environments that increase student attendance and engagement, reduce violence, promote academic success and increase graduation and college enrollment rates. Founded in 1997 at Manley High School – a school on the west side of Chicago with a 99.8% African-American and 97% low income student population – Umoja has supported driving a 67% increase in the graduation rate, a dramatic increase in the college enrollment rate from less than 10% to close to 60%, and a 45% decrease in out-of-school suspensions. By building a web of dynamic relationships where schools, families and communities partner to bridge the gap between the talents and ambitions of low-income youth and the resources they need to thrive, Umoja equips young people to succeed in college and confidently claim their future.
Results: • Nearly 100% of Manley’s 2012 seniors applied for college, collectively submitting almost 1,000 college applications and 87% received college acceptance letters. • Manley’s Class of 2012 collectively earned more than $1 million in scholarships. • More than 95% of the seniors in Manley’s Class of 2012 completed and submitted the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), an integral step on the road to college for low-income students. This completion rate far exceeded the 57% FAFSA completion rate for seniors nationally in 2010. • More than 120 teachers and administrators from 12 schools attended the Umoja University 2012 Summer Institute. Nearly 100% of participants reported that the week-long training was well-organized and a productive use of their time; 94% said the workshops would positively influence their teaching practice. • Since implementing the Restorative Justice program at Manley, out-of-school suspensions have decreased by more than 40% and school attendance has increased by more than 18%.
Geographic areas served: Chicago

2012 Top-Rated Nonprofit
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Community Reviews

Rating: 5 stars  

I am as proud of my affiliation with UMOJA -- the most impactful organization I have been associated with -- as anything I have done in my professional life. I began as a volunteer, then pro bono counsel, then director -- whatever I can do. UMOJA's impact is apparent to the many students, parents, teachers, administrators and even volunteers who have been touched by the skills, smarts and dedication of UMOJA's outstanding professional staff. To be able to impact not just individual lives and futures, but entire school cultures, while increasing graduation rates, college readiness, social and emotional growth, and teaching conflict resolution and other critical life skills sets UMOA apart. It is an outstanding, impactful organization worthy of our support.

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of board members?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you tell others about this organization?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

My family and I have been donors to and volunteers at Umoja for the past 6 or 7 years. We've been around long enough to see the impact that our modest donation makes in the hands of Umoja' very capable, talented and dedicated staff and board members. Most of the people we've met eat, breathe and sleep Umoja. My donations have been money well spent by people who are able get a huge amount of bang for my buck. This organization meets a very real need in an underserved/non-served group of Chicago students...and they succeed, OH BOY do they succeed. Statistically and anecdotally I see them changing lives. The organization partners with communities, the school system, the students and other nonprofits make an unfair world a little more fair for the students they serve. I feel very lucky to have been a tiny part of their success stories.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

None. I love these guys.

Was your donation impactful?

Definitely

How likely is it that you would recommend that a friend donate to this group?

Definitely

How likely are you to donate to this group again?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

I began volunteering at Umoja events in 2007 and was awestruck by the efforts that were being made to impact the lives of these kids. The work that Umoja does is invaluable and I am proud to be involved with pushing this important work forward. Umoja is an excellent, excellent organization.

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of board members?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you tell others about this organization?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful? 
Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 5 stars  

UMOJA is a rock! I realize that UMOJA means unity, and that is everyting that this intuitively organized, people-friendly, student-loving nonprofit epitomizes, but, more importantly, they connect, and support, young people in the range of "communities" that they serve. And, UMOJA serves across a broad range of holistic, student development communities: self and social-awareness communities, peace communities, educational navigation communities, post-secondary and career planning communities, citizenship, neighborhood and global communities! Yes! I just spent 14 years of the most rewarding part of my teaching life while partnering with UMOJA at Manley Career Academy H. S. on Chicago's Westside! When I look back over the 5 school administrative changes that have occurred in that time, the first thing that comes to mind is the unwavering stability and the creative, pro-activite energy of the UMOJA staff and thier mission of enriching young peoples lives. As a carpentry instructor, I used their develpment foundations to build successes upon, and, ....in the meantime we managed two full-home renovations in the neighborhood!

How does this organization compare with others in the same sector?

Very Well

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you recommend this organization to others?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

Umoja is an amazing organization that has dedicated tremendous effort to refine their model in order to remain sustainable, efficient and effective to the thousands of young people that they impact through their work. I worked there in the past and currently have the privilege of working for a foundation that funds their work. I have seen first hand the impact of their work on teachers, school culture and most importantly on the lives of minority youth who often don't have the chance to reach their potential due to numerous life adversities. Umoja in many ways addresses these barriers. I am proud to know them.

Was your donation impactful?

Definitely

How likely is it that you would recommend that a friend donate to this group?

Definitely

How likely are you to donate to this group again?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

Umoja is an amazing program where I was fortunate enough to get the chance to become apart of. A little over ten years ago, I can remember clearly, seeing our current CEO Ted Christians walking through the halls of Manley with boxes of pizza and me following the scent wondering how could I get a slice and Ted telling me to sit in on a conversation and you can have as many as you want, which was obviously a trick that saved my life of course, because all the conversations from that day forward were only to help me better myself and pursue my dreams, throughout our friendship I was able to travel the Mid-west and Down South colleges and become apart of great family, I really am grateful of finding Umoja/Ted and Him Leading me to the wonderful Lila Leff and to have that extended family support that they have given me for the past ten years and more to come thanks for everything UMOJA!!!!!!!

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

I've been involved with Umoja for over a decade. I first became aware of the organization through my work at the McCormick Foundation. I was so impressed with Umoja's impact, I happily joined its board when asked. My tenure as a board member came to an end several years ago, but I'm still a supporter of the organization. Umoja's staff is incredibly skilled at working with youth from urban environments, inspiring them to dream big dreams, and helping them achieve those dreams. The organization has a very impressive track record in helping academically at-risk youth find their way to post-secondary opportunities. Umoja consistently accomplishes great things, and are certainly worthy of ongoing support.

Was your donation impactful?

Definitely

How likely is it that you would recommend that a friend donate to this group?

Definitely

How likely are you to donate to this group again?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful? 
Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 5 stars  

In the past two decades I have consulted with dozens of non-profit on issues ranging from strategic planning to fundraising to organizational impact. I can say without hesitation that Umoja is one of the best run, most effective and forward-thinking organizations I have seen. In the past fifteen years I have watched Umoja grow from a start up non-profit to one of the most well respected in Chicago. Leaders in the philanthropic, education and social justice communities all hold Umoja up as a model. And even more important, I have been fortunate meet some of the thousands of people and work in some of the many communities that have been impacted by their work.

How does this organization compare with others in the same sector?

Very Well

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you recommend this organization to others?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful? 
Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 5 stars  

Umoja is one of Chicago's leading non-profits for making public schools safer places to learn and grow. Their work in the field of restorative justice is absolutely incredible and their evaluations of these efforts are second to none. Without question, Umoja has unlocked many of the secrets to successful school reform, education policymakers should take note of their model.

How does this organization compare with others in the same sector?

Very Well

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you recommend this organization to others?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

As a former board member, sometimes-consultant, and friend of Umoja, I highly recommend the incredible work they do with teachers and students. The Umoja team recognizes that school communities play a very important role in the lives of children, and they work to ensure that the whole community is equipped to support students in pursuing and reaching their goals. They contribute measurably to building the positive climate and college/career culture in the schools where they work, and they help teachers grow in their instructional and relational skills. Umoja's program evaluation team works hard to collect and study impact data and to enable the program team to make adjustments where they are needed. The most important champions of Umoja are their alumni - students who have graduated from some of the most competitive colleges nationally and who regularly return to support other high school students on that same path.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful?