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Launch U

Launch U

September Literacy Month

with Launch U


How can we propel Chicago’s hardest working students to success?  This is the question that drives us at Launch U.  We cannot deny the statistics: the college graduation rate for CPS students who start college following their high school degree is just 16%. Only 14% of freshmen who start at a CPS high school will graduate from a 4-year college by their mid-20s, and these rates are even lower for African-American and Latino students. (Univ. of Chicago Consortium on School Research).  What we must do with these dire projections is understand how to directly impact Chicago Public School students to develop the tools and ambition that will help them drive these numbers in a positive direction.


At Launch U, we understand the power of a role model: someone who has accomplished already what our students are trying to achieve.  Our 5-year plan for each Launch U student is to be accepted to and enroll at a 4-year college, graduate from that college, and gain employment in a career field of their choice.  To do this, we pair each student with a personal, young professional mentor who has done just this so that students can receive support and guidance via first-hand knowledge.  While our program lasts the duration of the student’s senior year, the relationship they develop with their mentors can last much longer.  As 2017 Launch U student Gabriel puts it, “truly, [our mentors] are people we can talk to for anything we need, whether it’s personal or school-wise. Their presence in our lives has not only been mentoring, but becoming friends – hopefully lifelong friends.”

This year, Launch U will work with 250+ Chicago students who are on the path to success.  They have gotten the grades, taken the tests, and made the decision to apply to college, but what happens over the next 12 months could make the difference when it comes to showing up on campus in Fall 2018, and graduating from college in 2022. Over 90% of our students will be the first in their family to earn a Bachelors degree.  When they look to their family, friends, and community members, they are paving a path that many have not walked before, and they will need help and guidance along the way. Not only will their Launch U mentor help them through this process by supporting their application and helping them understand the path to success, but our students will also gain invaluable networking connections that can impact their long-term success when it comes to finding their first internship or job out of college.  We all know it “takes a village,” and Launch U is creating that village for each of our students through our incredible network of board and associate board members, mentors, and supporters representing 150+ companies.

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To learn more about how you can join us and impact a high achieving student on their journey to success, visit

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