College & Career Readiness

Umoja believes college is an option for all young people. Since our inception, Umoja has remained grounded in our passion for ensuring that all students — even those often considered non-college bound based on their test scores and years of education at underperforming schools — graduate high school with quality options for continuing their education.

With college students and graduates all over the country, Umoja knows that they can do it. We believe that all students deserve access to higher education and we believe that it is in society’s self-interest to invest in their success. 

“With Umoja, students learn to believe in their own future, and, as importantly, Umoja helps administrators, teachers and counselors push their own definitions of what is possible for our most academically underserved young people.”

Greg Darnieder, Special Assistant to the Secretary for College Access, U.S. Department of Education


Success in the 21st century demands skills, attitudes and abilities that make some form of postsecondary education a virtual requirement. In today’s world, a postsecondary credential has become as important as a high school diploma used to be (

The Consortium on Chicago School Research (CCSR) report on college success found the following activities were critical for postsecondary success: 1) developing strong teacher-student relationships to support and guide students in the college search and application process; 2) creating college cultures at schools, and; 3) providing access to information on college options, the application process and financial aid (Potholes on the Road to College, March 2008). 

Umoja’s College and Career Readiness program works: Manley High School’s graduation rate rose from 30% in 1998 to more than 50% in recent years, and its college enrollment rate grew from less than 10% to close to 60% in recent years. Our newest Senior Seminar model is also increasing college readiness - an average of 96% of students across 4 pilot Senior Seminar schools completed 3 college applications, with an acceptance rate of 91%, as compared to the CPS-wide average rates of 67% and 51% respectively last year.


Umoja builds the skills and behaviors that students need for college enrollment and completion through on-the-ground supports, comprehensive postsecondary curriculum, tools and protocols, and professional development for all teachers, counselors and paraprofessionals.

Recognizing the important role that non-familial adults play in the postsecondary transition process for the students we serve, Umoja works very intentionally to ensure that students have ongoing opportunities for one-on-one advising and support.

Programs and services include:

  • Individual counseling
  • In-school and afterschool application, financial aid and scholarship workshops
  • Integrated advisory model and grade-specific postsecondary planning curriculum
  • Parent/family workshops & events
  • Local, state and national college tours
  • ACT preparation classes
  • Career exposure opportunities & events
  • Post-graduation and alumni support