FROM 60 TO 600



Now is the time for Thrive Scholars Chicago to expand access to our community and grow our impact by providing a transformative educational experience to even more Chicago students. We have set forth the ambitious goal to increase the number of Scholars we serve in Chicago from 60 to 600 students by 2026. We are committed to providing even more talented, underrepresented students the program support they need to succeed academically in our nation’s most selective colleges and realize their full potential.


There are 2,750 students of color from economically disadvantaged communities in Chicago with the academic qualifications to get into top colleges, yet only 50% apply to even one.

To succeed at top colleges and thrive in careers, Chicago’s students need extra support – but there simply aren’t enough citywide programs like Thrive Scholars tailored to meet their unique needs.

We understand the opportunity gaps – and their impact: 

  • Because of a lack of access to rigorous high school coursework, many Scholars perform poorly in first-year classes and are often advised to switch to less rigorous majors. In fact, less than 25% who pursue rigorous majors actually graduate in that major.
  • Most lack access to a network of college graduates who can share knowledge about the college experience. 83% of our Chicago Thrive Scholars are first-generation college-goers. 
  • Underrepresented students can’t afford college or daily expenses as easily as many of their peers. They often graduate with more debt and lower career earnings potential.


There is a misplaced assumption that Chicago’s highest-achieving students of color from low-income backgrounds will succeed in college without extra support, given their talent and achievements. Instead, only about 40% of Chicago Public School students attend four-year colleges, and only half graduate. Too few Chicago students graduate high school prepared for top careers. And too few Chicagoans of color build generational wealth.


From 60 to 600: The Campaign for Thrive Scholars Chicago is a $9.5 million fundraising campaign that will expand capacity and increase impact for Chicago’s high-achieving, underrepresented students from economically disadvantaged communities to graduate from college equipped to achieve their full potential. 


Thrive Alum ' 24

Before getting into Thrive, I thought I was almost too ambitious. I had big dreams of making big money and having a big house and whatnot, but also making a big difference in my community. I had no clue how I would do that, and I didn’t know anyone who had similar goals as I did, much less anyone who had achieved them. Thrive helped me prove to myself that I can, and will, do whatever I set my mind to. I am extremely grateful to Thrive Scholars for encouraging my family and I to dream big.

With your support, we will expand access to even more students in Chicago, like Kiara, and grow our impact by advancing the following campaign priorities: 


Help change the legacy of hundreds of deserving students and create a pipeline of Chicago's future diverse talent.

Support Chicago Thrive Scholars

Frequently Asked Questions

Thrive Scholars is committed to assisting high-achieving, economically disadvantaged students of color in gaining admission to and successfully graduating from top colleges, providing them with the tools to realize their full career potential. Over the past two decades, we’ve served over 3,000 underrepresented students nationwide.

Thrive Scholars exists to empower talented and deserving, high-achieving students of color from low-income communities by providing comprehensive support, including academic preparation, mentorship, career development, and financial assistance. We aim to bridge systemic gaps, ensuring these students not only access top colleges but also thrive academically and launch successful careers, thus breaking the cycle of limited opportunity and advancing diversity in leadership and high-trajectory professions.

Our Scholars are high-achieving students of color from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Nationally, they exhibit exceptional academic qualifications, with 82% identifying as Black or Latino, 85% being first-generation college-goers, and 85% attending Top 50 colleges. Our Scholars outperform not only similar students but also the general population at the colleges they attend.

We expanded to Chicago in 2019, starting with a cohort of 9 scholars. Currently, we have 60 Chicago Thrive Scholars, with plans to increase this number to 600 by 2026. Our local cohort represents various communities across Chicago, with a focus on the South and West sides. Like our national cohort, 84% are first-generation college-goers.

Thrive Academy Chicago is a regional summer program, launching in Summer 2025, designed as an academic intensive for Chicago-area students. It offers a six-week summer experience to prepare students for the rigors of college.

Thrive Academy is a day program that will provide students with 6 weeks of intensive education, including calculus and writing, conducted by college professors on a college campus. Participants will also receive college advising support, career development workshops, and access to internship and job opportunities.

By 2026, Thrive Scholars Chicago will move from enrolling 30 students per year to 275 students per year.

To address the need for increased college readiness, we plan to open Thrive Academies in Chicago and nationwide. Our first two Academies in Los Angeles and New York are slated to open in the Summer of 2024. This expansion allows us to reach thousands of deserving students and make a substantial impact on their academic and professional success.

There is no cost for students to participate in Thrive Academy. Thrive raises all funds from private sources, including foundations, corporations, and individuals.  Our plan is to support the cost for students through funds that we raise, and as such, we don’t plan to charge partnering organizations that direct students to us.

The goal of our campaign is to raise $9.5 million in the next 18 months. These funds will be utilized to expand the size of our program and launch Thrive Academy Chicago, a critical initiative to support 600 talented students annually.

The funds will capitalize our 6-Year Program and establish Thrive Academy Chicago. The 6-Year Program includes two summers of residential Summer Academy before college and four years of support during college. Thrive Academy Chicago is a six-week local day program the summer before senior year of high school.

Your support is critical to the success of the campaign for Thrive Scholars Chicago because it directly impacts our ability to expand its transformative programs. Every dollar raised will enable Thrive Scholars to increase the number of students served, launch Thrive Academy Chicago, and provide essential resources for mentorship, academic preparation, and career development. Your support is instrumental in creating meaningful opportunities for high-achieving, economically disadvantaged students of color, fostering their success in top colleges and beyond, and breaking down barriers to achievement and career advancement.

You can make a difference in multiple ways, such as donating, volunteering, or joining our campaign committee. We hope you will join us in investing in our bold vision for the future of Chicago’s students. If you would like to make a multi-year campaign pledge, volunteer, or join the campaign committee, please contact our Executive Director, Kylia Kummer, at or 773-572-0094.

Yes, make your contribution go further and take advantage of tax benefits by donating stocks, bonds, or mutual funds to Thrive Scholars. Your gift will support our mission and deserving students while avoiding capital gains tax on the appreciation of your stock. Doing so allows us to receive a larger donation often while saving you money on your taxes. Please call or email or (323)389-7471 to receive transfer instructions and applicable information to assist you or your broker in making your gift to Thrive Scholars. You will have to contact your broker to initiate the transaction

Giving through your donor-advised fund is a great way to maximize your impact on our Scholars and their educational and career aspirational goals. Thank you for recommending grants from your DAF to Thrive Scholars. Your fund sponsor (local community foundations; investment companies like Fidelity, Schwab Vanguard; and other select nonprofits) handles all record-keeping, disbursements, and tax receipts. You can find us on your donor advised fund sponsor’s list of charities as Thrive Scholars or SCS Noonan Scholars (our prior name). You can also find us through our Tax ID #: 45-5619310.

Thrive Scholars values and recognizes the generosity of its donors. Pledge donors will be acknowledged on our website and in campaign-related materials. Donors may also receive invitations to exclusive events, updates on the impact of their contribution, and opportunities to engage with Thrive Scholars’ community and programs.

To learn more about Thrive Scholars Chicago and our commitment to supporting even more of Chicago’s deserving students, please contact our Chicago Executive Director, Kylia Kummer, at or (773)572-0094.