Photo: OneGoal /

Chicago-based organization OneGoal is planning to increase the percentage of students from low-income communities who complete college after receiving a $1.5 million contribution from AT&T.

The organization, which focuses on college access and success, started as an afterschool program serving 32 students. Originally called OneGoal Fellows, it has grown to a larger organization that equips teachers with the curriculum, technology, training and coaching to implement OneGoal’s three-year, in-school model. OneGoal plans to serve more than 9,300 Fellows throughout the country by the end of the 2016-2017 school year and is currently working with fellows and teachers in 180 high schools nationally — 84 of which are in Chicago.

AT&T’s contribution will allow OneGoal to serve more Fellows in their flagship region of Chicago, as well as Houston, Massachusetts and New York City.

“AT&T’s investment will allow us to increase our reach to more than 5,000 Fellows within Chicago, and fuel our expansion nationwide,”OneGoal CEO and co-founder Jeff Nelson said. “This collaboration is also the catalyst to key innovations of the OneGoal model, from curriculum, to the training and support of those teachers who lead it. We are continuously improving not only how we support our Fellows, but how we can better recruit and coach the truly gifted teachers who work with Fellows throughout the three-year program. We couldn’t be more grateful to AT&T for recognizing the incredible talent of our teachers, and ultimately becoming a part of our Fellows’ success stories.”

This contribution is part of AT&T Aspire — AT&T’s philanthropic initiative geared toward innovation in education.

“It is exciting to see these high school students accelerate their academic achievement and succeed into their college years with the support of the OneGoal, and AT&T is proud to support the expansion of OneGoal to help thousands of more students – here in Chicago and in communities across America,” AT&T Illinois President Paul La Schiazza said. “Through Aspire, we are committed to supporting organizations implementing verifiable, evidenced-based interventions focused on improving high school retention rates and preparing students – especially those most at-risk – for college or careers.  ”

A University of Chicago evaluation found that OneGoal provides a huge benefit to the students it serves — increasing college enrollment and college persistence rates by 10 to 20 percentage points; improving high school academic indicators including ACT scores, the number of credits accumulated, GPA, and absences; and growth in non-cognitive skill development.

“The evidence from OneGoal demonstrates that non-cognitive skills are key drivers for important life outcomes, and also that they are malleable into late adolescence,” said James Heckman, Nobel Laureate and director at the Center for the Economics of Human Development at the University of Chicago.

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