On Monday, March 19 at 7 p.m. Ted Christians, CEO of Umoja, will be joined by others from this agency committed to student and community development to present the impactful work being done.


By Evan Newton

What we read and hear about Chicago public schools is overwhelmingly negative. Violence, budget disasters, labor negotiations, and school closures tend to steal the headlines. Now, take all these headlines into consideration and imagine yourself as a high school student in one of these schools. Your adult life remains ahead of you, and your goal is to create a better life for yourself and your family. How could one possibly have hope for postsecondary success under such dire circumstances?

Umoja is celebrating its 20th year serving Chicago public high schools and currently serves 3,600 students in 13 under-resourced institutions. 90 percent of Umoja’s students come from low-income households and 97 percent are youth of color. Their work transforms schools through a college and career readiness seminar and restorative justice peace rooms. The college and career readiness seminar keeps students on a path of success upon graduation while Umoja’s peace rooms keep students in the classroom and off the streets. In Chicago public schools, an out of school suspension reduces a student’s likelihood of graduation by 12 percent. Dropping out of school makes a young person eight times more likely to be incarcerated.

Importantly, Umoja’s programs are having an impact and working to reverse the narrative. 99 percent of seminar students are accepted to college, and college persistence rates have increased by 33 percent in Umoja schools. On average, there has been a 42 percent reduction in out-of-school suspensions across partner schools.

Please join us on Monday, March 19 at 7 p.m. to hear from Ted Christians, CEO of Umoja, and Kristin McKay, Restorative Justice Director of Umoja. Together they will explain how Umoja works with school administrators to prepare students for post-secondary success. And, Kristin will demonstrate a typical peace room session, an alternative to out-of-school suspensions.

We welcome your participation and encourage you to view this four-minute video about Umoja’s impact.