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This month, 45 Evanston Township High School juniors began their six-year journey to college graduation with Evanston Scholars. The Evanston Scholars program guides students through the college admission process, supports them to persist through college graduation, and connects them to internships, professional networks and employment opportunities with the aim of graduating from college and finding strong jobs.
“We are thrilled to welcome our largest-ever cohort of 45 students,” said Executive Director Steve Newman. “Ten years ago we started with 10 students, and every year a greater number – with increasing diversity – of mentors, partners and donors have stepped forward to ensure that more Evanston students get the support they need to succeed in college and launch their careers.”
Evanston Scholars works with Evanston students of color and students from low-income families to get into and through college. Their focus is on college completion since it promises the greatest career and economic possibilities for students, given that college graduates earn significantly more than people with only high school degrees.
During the COVID-19 crisis, supporters rallied to help underrepresented Evanston students succeed in college. While many organizations nationally struggled through the pandemic, Evanston Scholars received unprecedented support from every sector of the Evanston community. Many community members gave what they could, be it time, expertise or technical or financial support. Despite the many difficulties posed by the pandemic, more than 95% of Evanston Scholars students remained enrolled in college through the 2020-2021 academic year.
While Evanston Scholars is celebrating their largest cohort so far, they report that there is more work to be done. Demographic and income data indicates that many more students could use the support Evanston Scholars offers. Board President Katie Dealy emphasized that “Evanston Scholars provides a level playing field for students who do not have automatic access to the resources or connections that are typically available to wealthier students. We are committed to expanding this highly effective program to meet the full need in Evanston.”
The recent expansion in cohort size is one step towards realizing the organization’s vision, which is that “every qualified Evanston student with the desire to earn a college degree can attend college, graduate, and obtain a strong career, thereby creating a more just and prosperous Evanston.” Newman adds, “Everyone involved with Evanston Scholars will keep working until we realize our vision.”
About Evanston Scholars
Evanston Scholars is a non-profit organization that improves college access and success for a diverse group of ambitious Evanston students who are traditionally first-generation college entrants, students from low-income families, and students of color, starting with the college admissions process and continuing through college graduation. The comprehensive, six-year program offers workshops, mentors, ACT/SAT prep, college counseling and career readiness support to support students with financial and academic needs.