Coronavirus Updates

As graduate degrees become more sought after in the workplace, Chicago Booth and local nonprofit – Chicago Scholars – are joining forces to establish a pipeline for students to attend graduate level programs like Chicago Booth, as well as create a longstanding relationship with real impact in the Chicagoland area. Chicago Scholars provides academically ambitious students from low-income or first-generation college-going backgrounds with the tools to overcome systemic barriers and succeed in college and beyond. Simultaneously, Chicago Scholars works to prepare the city's businesses and organizations for the next generation of leaders.

We talked to Donna Swinford, Associate Dean for Student Recruitment and Admissions at Chicago Booth, and Andre Hebert, Director of College Partnerships at Chicago Scholars to learn more about the importance of the collaboration and what this newfound partnership has in store for incoming students.

Why did Chicago Scholars and Chicago Booth form this new partnership?

Donna: We’ve been working with Chicago Scholars on a potential joint endeavor for quite some time and both of our programs are thrilled to announce that this unique collaboration is now a reality. It is a tremendous opportunity for Chicago Booth to engage with a local organization that helps prepare the next generation of leaders for college and careers. In higher ed, we recognize the importance of establishing connections, building relationships, and working with learners as early as possible to nurture their path to college, MBA/grad school, and beyond. Additionally, joining forces with an organization that has its roots right here in Chicago’s local neighborhoods is extremely special for us. We are honored to be a forerunner in this type of alliance that provides support, access, and a shared mission to help drive the economic future of our local communities.

One of the reasons we decided to establish this partnership is to continue our strategic goal of preparing our Scholars for the world and the world for our Scholars. We find that some of our Scholars are interested in pursuing a graduate degree and this creates a pipeline for better access and resources. Deciding to partner with Chicago Booth made sense because of our history of partnership with the University of Chicago. Not only is the University of Chicago a longstanding, invested institutional partner of Chicago Scholars, but there are multiple relationships and linkages between the organizations. Knowing that both organizations share a similar mission and vision of removing barriers for underserved students made this partnership easy to establish.

What unique opportunities and programming will be available to Chicago Scholars as a result of the partnership?

Donna: Because of this partnership, Chicago Scholars will have an established relationship with Chicago Booth that begins very early on in their educational and professional journey. That connection will carry through their time in the Chicago Scholars program and college years to their post-grad careers. Chicago Scholars will benefit from regular events and special sessions with our community, MBA application fee waivers, and even dedicated scholarship awards. There is also a great opportunity for Chicago Scholars to secure future admission to Booth through our deferred MBA program, which candidates can apply to while they are still in undergrad. Our team is already planning some exclusive touchpoints with Chicago Scholars students and alumni so they can take advantage of our early admissions route and benefit from the valuable network, resources, mentorship, and development opportunities that comes with Booth’s deferred MBA program.

Chicago Scholars is excited to welcome Chicago Booth into our programming. With this pilot year, we are hoping to have Chicago Booth engage with all current college Scholars by way of newsletters and workshops. We also hope to integrate Chicago Booth’s offerings to our Scholar Alumni for those who may be interested in pursuing a graduate degree. Given a successful year, we are hopeful to evolve programming and bring in more graduate level college partners.

Grey Placeholder Image

“Chicago Scholars helped shape my path to a Booth MBA by allowing me to have the support system I needed to be able to get an undergraduate degree at a world-class institution. This opportunity allowed me to not only grow in ways I wouldn’t have imagined but it pushed me to consider a graduate degree, specifically an MBA, as a viable option post-undergrad. To put it succinctly, Chicago Scholars helped me see the potential I had.” – Guillermo Camarillo, Evening MBA Student

In what ways do you hope this newfound partnership supports students in meeting their future career goals?

Grey Placeholder Image

Andre: Having a masters degree is a growing requirement in the workplace. This partnership allows both organizations to be at the forefront of graduate educational access and equity by removing barriers to a graduate degree. We hope that Scholars see this partnership as an extension of their experience within the Chicago Scholars program and feel at ease knowing that the University of Chicago Booth School of Business is investing in their future. We hope that this partnership makes Scholars more marketable in the workforce all while keeping their financial barriers at bay.

Anything else you’d like to add or share about this exciting endeavor?

Donna: This organization is local to Chicago and it supports educational and leadership development with an impact in our own backyard. Booth is excited to invest in this first-ever partnership with experts who have a shared mission and local ties. We are looking forward to working with future business leaders very early on in their career to provide networking, advising, professional development, resources, and other meaningful opportunities to both students and alumni of the program. The University of Chicago has been a long-term institutional affiliate with Chicago Scholars and we’re pleased to build on that legacy with additional offerings from a graduate level perspective. This initiative is important to our school and it’s a significant step in progressing towards more access to graduate education—both across the board and in our hometown.

Chicago Scholars is truly excited about the opportunities this partnership can create. We are grateful to Chicago Booth for wanting to walk in-step with Chicago Scholars on this journey of building meaningful relationships between CBOs and Higher Education institutions with the goals of greater educational access and attainment.