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Umoja Student Development Corporation

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Education, Educational Services, Vocational & Technical Schools

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

Community Stories

3 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

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!


Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

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.

Ryan L.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

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.