Chicago Collaborative for Undergraduate Success

Mission. The Chicago Collaborative for Undergraduate Success is a network of Chicago-area, non-profit institutions of higher education whose mission is to create a Chicago where all young people live up to their educational potential, by raising college graduation rates.

Actions. The Collaborative was formed in 2013 and brings together the major institutions of higher education in Chicago, to focus their collective resources, expertise, and data on solving the problem of undergraduate college persistence and graduation, with a particular focus on low-income students and those from Chicago Public Schools. Member institutions work together with high schools and other community organizations to share data and develop evidence-driven initiatives to increase post-secondary student success and degree completion.

Membership. The Collaborative includes the broadest range of non-profit institutions: community colleges and four-year colleges, private and public institutions. There are currently over 40 members, including the 23 Associated Colleges of Illinois, the 7 City Colleges of Chicago, the University of Illinois at Chicago, Columbia College, DePaul University, Illinois Institute of Technology, Loyola University, Northeastern Illinois University, Northern Illinois University, Northwestern University, Roosevelt University, the University of Chicago, and the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research. Other Chicago-area institutions will be brought on board as the Collaborative grows. Each institution is represented in the Collaborative and at its quarterly convenings by a Provost, Vice Provost, or a similar-level administrator who has decision-making authority for student success initiative issues.

Potential for Impact. Collaborative institutions currently enroll a total of 203,400 undergraduates. Over half of all students in Chicago Public Schools alone who recently enrolled in college did so in a Collaborative institution; 20 of the top 50 Colleges attended by CPS graduates in 2012 were Collaborative institutions. We know of no other city in the nation with such a coalition of higher education institutions organized for collective action with other community partners to increase student success, even in the cities most known for collective action such as Boston. The Collaborative is unique, and with its commitment to cooperative action with high schools and others, it will make a difference.

Community Partner Board. The Collaborative is supported by a Community Partner Board, which serves as an important source of information, advice, and perspective from the local, state, and national community. Members of the Board include:

  • Arnie Rivera, Deputy Chief of Staff for Education to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel
  • Jim Applegate, Executive Director, Illinois Board of Higher Education
  • Aarti Dhupelia, Chief Officer for the Office of College and Career Success in Chicago Public Schools
  • Jim Parsons, President, The Brinson Foundation, and Co-Chair of the Donor’s Forum College and Career Access, Persistence, and Success (CCAPS) Funder Group
  • David Tretter, President of the Federation of Independent Illinois Colleges and Universities

Leadership and Staffing. The Collaborative is led by Executive Director Bette L. Bottoms, who is also Dean of the Honors College and Professor of Psychology at University of Illinois at Chicago. The Director is Dr. Susan Farruggia, Visiting Research Assistant Professor of Psychology, and the Project Coordinator is Dr. Mary Leighton, both also at UIC. Additional Collaborative staff members include a Postdoctoral Researcher, Dr. Cheon-woo Han, two UIC graduate students, and several undergraduate students who actively engage in the research.

The Chicago Collaborative for Undergraduate Success is funded by generous grants from an anonymous Chicago foundation as well as the Kaplan Family Foundation. We welcome all inquiries about becoming our partner as we change the trajectories of Chicago youth for the better.