Chicago Urban League's 50th Annual Golden Fellowship Dinner

November 7, 2011 9:40:27 AM PST
For 95 years, the Chicago Urban League has been a leader in building strong sustainable African American Communities and creating opportunities with the power to transform people's lives.

Andrea Zopp, President and CEO of the Chicago branch says that is the mission of the organization when it was founded in 1916, and remains true today. Zopp arrived last year and helped cut the organization's $2 Million deficit and steer the league back to its roots. This Friday night, The Chicago Urban League is celebrating its 50th Annual Golden Fellowship Dinner with special guests, radio personality, Steve Harvey and singer Patti LaBelle.

The Chicago Urban League's Various Programs (release)


Our Education Department offers comprehensive programs that give students at the middle school and high school levels the skills and confidence necessary to compete academically while exposing them to various careers, social and cultural opportunities.

We work with 200 middle school students annually, through our National Urban League Incentives to Excel and Succeed (N.U.L.I.T.E.S.), an intense after-school program that teaches leadership skills, financial literacy and how to successfully transition to high school from both an academic and social standpoint. The program also works with parents in order to foster improvement in students' learning and overall well being.

Over 100 students from eight high schools annually participate in our Young Investor/Entrepreneur Project (YIEP). YIEP educates high school students in entrepreneurship, capital markets, and business investments. At the end of the program the students participate in a business plan competition. In the eight years that the program has been running 100% of the participants have graduated from high school and 85% have gone on to college.

We also run two college readiness programs for high school juniors which provide academic, social and leadership skills and prepares them to participate in an on-site college admissions process. Last year close to 150 students participated and 97% of the eligible students were accepted to four year colleges. We also award scholarships funded by various donors in order to support students needing financial assistance to begin, continue and complete their post-secondary educational goals


Our Entrepreneurship Center serves over 1,000 clients annually and provides strategic business consulting, intensive training programs and business development to emerging and established African American entrepreneurs. We work with new and established business owners through a series of program offerings aimed at different levels of expertise.

Our nextSTEP program provides introductory business classes taught by industry experts to emerging and existing small business owners. The classes, which meet Tuesday and Thursdays generally draw between 25-30 people.

In partnership with Loyola University, the nextLEVEL Entrepreneurial MBA project helps clients enhance business functions, operations and profitability, market expansion and analysis, revenue mapping, business modeling, financing and cost management, and customer identification.

We also have a program focused on contractors looking to increase capacity, win contracts, and sustain success in the construction industry. The 25 firms that participated in the program last year obtained $20 million in new business and $2 million in new bonding capacity. Finally, the nextONE business accelerator, done in partnership with the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, is a competitive, nine-month program designed to accelerate the growth of entrepreneurs. Over 55 firms have graduated from the nextONE program. In a recent survey of the nextOne participants, over 70% of the respondents reported increased revenues and hiring following the program.


The Center for Employment and Human Capital Development provides expert workforce training, life coaching, and employment services to our clients.

In our employment program we provide general work readiness training that includes resume writing, interviewing, computer training and other basic skills training. Last year we worked with over 3,000 people. Additionally, we work with specific employers to recruit and screen applicants. We also operate job specific training through our Pre2 Construction Apprenticeship and Commercial Driver's License Programs. Last year we placed 447 individuals with over 100 companies.

In our Human Capital Development area we provide life coaching, personal and employment counseling, academic assistance and mentoring to over 400 predominantly male clients. Our high school clients, which include 100 students from Hyde Park and Harper high school, have improved academic performance and attendance. Our adult clients have improved relationships with their families, made commitments to child support and sought and obtained employment.


Our Housing Counseling Department is a HUD-certified counseling agency and a City of Chicago Department of Housing Delegate Agency. We provide low-to moderate-income residents with professional housing counseling assistance through our programs and services. Our service areas include: foreclosure prevention, mortgage default counseling, first time homebuyers counseling, predatory lending counseling, rental counseling, landlord/tenant matters and senior reverse mortgage counseling. Last year over 1,500 individuals received housing and mortgage delinquency counseling. Over 300 attended first time homebuyer seminars and 50 purchased new homes.


The Chicago Urban League's multimedia platform, which includes broadcast, print, and online media, promotes the Chicago Urban League's programs, messages, and positive images of African Americans.


Our Policy and Research Department advocates for policies and programs that stimulate economic growth and promote educational achievement, homeownership, health and wellness, and career success in the African American community. Our two major initiatives this past year were research and community education work funded by the MacArthur foundation on the disproportionate contacts of minorities with the criminal justice system and our lawsuit against the Illinois State Board of Education regarding the unconstitutionality of our property tax based school funding system.


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