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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

4 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Board Member

Rating: 5

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.

Board Member

Rating: 5

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.


Board Member

Rating: 5

I became involved with Umoja as a volunteer. Over the course of a couple of years I joined the Board and now serve as Board President. Every experience I have with students and staff is impressive. There are very few organizations that I have been involved with that have the perseverance and perspective that Umoja has brought to each and every student and school they touch.


Board Member

Rating: 5

Umoja is an incredible organization serving high school students across Chicago! I've been lucky enough to have many relationships with Umoja... as a staff member, a volunteer, and a Board Member. Umoja is truly making an impact in the lives of students who really need extra support and in the schools of those students. For Umoja, supporting students to be successful in the world means having a HOLISTIC view of what a student needs... from academic support to college enrollment support to restorative justice support. Students who have Umoja in their lives have a team of relentless caring adults working to make sure they are on a path to success. It is truly inspiring! Umoja is one of the best nonprofits I support!