Youth Development

Link Unlimited Scholars

  • Chicago, IL
  • http://www.linkunlimited.org

Mission Statement

LINK Unlimited Scholars provides educational college preparatory opportunities for economically disadvantaged African American high school youth. In so doing, it integrates mentoring relationships, college readiness and leadership development to foster academic success, personal development and interracial understanding and harmony.

Main Programs

  1. Academic Enrichment
  2. College Readiness
  3. Summer School Enrichment
Service Areas

Self-reported

Illinois

We currently serve disadvantaged African American youth that reside in Cook County Illinois.

ruling year

1975

Principal Officer since 2015

Self-reported

Dr. Roslind Blasingame-Buford

Keywords

Self-reported

African-American, education, mentoring, youth, disadvantaged, under served, college prep,

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Also Known As

LINK Unlimited

EIN

23-7386928

 Number

0633344846

Physical Address

2221 South State Street

Chicago, IL 60616

Contact

Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Youth Development Programs (O50)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Programs + Results

How does this organization make a difference?

Overview

Self-reported by organization

LINK Unlimited Scholar's mission is to provide educational college preparatory opportunities for economically disadvantaged African American high school youth. Founded in 1966 to build upon Martin Luther King’s Dream of equality and justice, we became the link that provided opportunities to African American youth who had and continues to have few alternatives to underperforming public schools in their neighborhoods.

LINK Unlimited continues to be Chicago’s highest performing and most experienced African American high school mentoring and scholarship program, bringing together the comprehensive resources and rigorous approach required to shape high potential youth from underserved neighborhoods into academic achievers and life-long learners. We link our scholars to mentors and educational opportunities to move them from margins to the mainstream, enabling them to confidently and courageously impact their communities.

Programs

Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Program 1

Academic Enrichment

Our Academic Enrichment program consists of a six-week summer school session required for all rising freshman, sophomores and juniors which begin the second week of June. This is the first component of the relationship LINK Unlimited builds with our students.

Category

Youth Development, General/Other

Population(s) Served

Blacks

Youth/Adolescents only (14 - 19 years)

Poor/Economically Disadvantaged, Indigent, General

Budget

$20,000.00

Program 2

College Readiness

The college readiness programs provide students with in-depth exposure to higher education and one-on-one counseling. Programs Include:

One-on-one college counseling
College campus visits and tours
College information nights and fairs
LINK Unlimited alumni college information sessions
College essay and financial aid workshops
ACT Prep

Category

Youth Development, General/Other

Population(s) Served

Blacks

Youth/Adolescents only (14 - 19 years)

Poor/Economically Disadvantaged, Indigent, General

Budget

$42,200.00

Program 3

Summer School Enrichment

Rising Freshman Scholars

Required to attend a six-week LINK Unlimited-sponsored summer school session
Focuses on English, algebra or pre-geometry, and study skills
Classes are held at Fenwick High School in Oak Park, Illinois.

Rising Sophomore Scholars

Required to attend a six week LINK-sponsored summer school session
Focuses on English (with an intense focus on writing); Math (a focus on pre-geometry and pre-algebra 2/ trig); Identity and Global Awareness. This course will focus on non-cognitive skills and helping our sophomores to understand how they fit into, and can personally contribute to the global world around them. This class will be held five days per week in 65 minute intervals and will be formatted seminar style, with a capstone project presented at the end of the six weeks.
Classes are held at Fenwick High School in Oak Park, Illinois.

Rising Junior Class

Studies have shown that test scores are a high predictor of college admissions and scholarship awards; LINK enables economically disadvantaged youth to compete on a level playing field for college admissions testing.

Required to attend a four-week ACT foundations class.
Focuses on the skills necessary to improve English grammar and vocabulary, Writing, Math
On Fridays, students participate in a debate course to enhance their public speaking and presentation skills
Classes are held at the LINK Office in Chicago, Illinois

Category

Youth Development, General/Other

Population(s) Served

Blacks

Youth/Adolescents only (14 - 19 years)

Poor/Economically Disadvantaged, Indigent, General

Budget

$156,750.00

Charting Impact

Self-reported by organization

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

  1. What is the organization aiming to accomplish?
    Our number one goal at LINK Unlimited Scholars is to provide every opportunity that will afford the scholars we serve a concrete blueprint by which they can confidently and successfully change the trajectory of their lives through the power of education. In so doing, we pay particular attention to the programs we provide – for rigor, effectiveness and content - and the results they produce, to make sure that our scholars achieve the ultimate goal of college graduation and a concrete career path!
    1. Pre-Collegiate Programming and Training (College awareness & completion curriculum; transition workshops; and retreats for graduating seniors that adequately prepare them for the academic, social, financial and cultural adjustment to college);
    2. College Visits (Allowing our scholars to visualize themselves in a college environment and to become acclimated with the process and expectations of college);
    3. Data Collection and Analysis (Analyzing retention and graduation rates to help determine areas requiring more focus);
    4. Communication, Intervention and Coaching (Reaching out to our collegiate scholars currently enrolled in college, counseling them on how to utilize resources and connecting them with other LINK scholars on campus); and
    5. Summer Tracking & Internships (The College Years Counselor (CYC) plays an active role in helping our LINK collegiate scholars, become aware of and be prepared for numerous internship and employment opportunities).
  2. What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?
    Gap Funding - Finances can be a major roadblock for retention in college. Research has found that college students who left school without a credential (degree) had little financial help. According to a 2009 study, more than 58% of college students who had left school without a degree or certificate received no financial help from their parents or other relatives (compared with 37 percent of students who graduated). LINK would like to create a retention fund to help bridge the financial gap for our scholars who would otherwise withdraw from college without additional financial assistance, after proving they are in “good academic standing”, on an academic path toward graduation and thoroughly demonstrating their specific financial need.
    Peer/Adult Mentoring – We have accumulated anecdotal evidence that our scholars need to receive more mentoring and guidance as they navigate their college experience. Mentoring is at the very core of our organizational history and an integral factor of the success of our high school programming. We believe that it is essential to formally provide mentoring as a pillar in our outreach to our collegiate scholars. We recognize the opportunity to connect our scholars to our vast, yet under-utilized network of alumni, mentors and supporters. We will develop an infrastructure to connect them to current collegiate scholars (adult mentoring). We will also create the groundwork to develop more peer-to peer mentoring on individual college campuses. For example, we currently have 14 scholars enrolled at Knox College. We will work to improve the peer-to-peer communication of those scholars whereas the LINK seniors enrolled at Knox will serve as mentors for our 1st year Knox scholars as well as for our high school scholars who consider Knox as a potential college choice.
    Career Development – We have further determined that our scholars need additional support as they start on the career path. We will develop programming that will consist of internship access, career fairs, resume assistance and other career development programming to give them the skills they need to be successful after they graduate from college. We will also connect our scholars with our mentors, board members, and other key stakeholders, as they build their social capital and access their LINK relationships to advance opportunities for successful futures.
  3. What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?
    We want all our scholars to be successful academically, to enroll in a selective four year college or university, persist through college and graduate, and ultimately, find success and fulfillment in a career that helps them better themselves, their family and by extension, their community. For the past three years, LINK Unlimited Scholars has successfully tracked the college enrollment and graduation of our scholars. We can accurately report on where they are enrolling and graduating from. 62 scholars completed our high school program in May 2014 and have since enrolled in 42 colleges in 20 states across the country. 29 of those colleges are rated as “Most, Highly, or Very Competitive” by Barron’s Profile of American Colleges. As for our college graduation success, 64% of the LINK scholars who completed our high school program in 2008 graduated from college. Nationally, the 6-year college graduation for all students is 57% and for African-American students it is 42%. We are proud of the success of our scholars but we believe we can further improve their college experiences, graduation rates, and career preparedness, and increase their access to success! Our plan is expand our current program by implementing the following extension: College Success: To, Through, and Beyond.
  4. How will they know if they are making progress?
    In 2020, LINK Unlimited Scholars will be recognized not only as Chicago’s premier and oldest educational preparatory program for economically-disadvantaged African American youth but is poised to be a pipeline of talent for Chicago’s corporations and community builders. We are developing a cadre of strong young leaders whose passion and goal is to change the trajectory of their communities by becoming the front-runners that corporations are seeking and to use that access, growth and financial stability to give back and rebuild their communities, creating yet another pipeline for young African American youth.
  5. What have and haven't they accomplished so far?
    We want all our scholars to be successful academically, to enroll in a selective four year college or university, persist through college and graduate, and ultimately, find success and fulfillment in a career that helps them better themselves, their family and by extension, their community. For the past three years, LINK Unlimited Scholars has successfully tracked the college enrollment and graduation of our scholars. We can accurately report on where they are enrolling and graduating from. 62 scholars completed our high school program in May 2014 and have since enrolled in 42 colleges in 20 states across the country. 29 of those colleges are rated as “Most, Highly, or Very Competitive” by Barron’s Profile of American Colleges. As for our college graduation success, 64% of the LINK scholars who completed our high school program in 2008 graduated from college. Nationally, the 6-year college graduation for all students is 57% and for African-American students it is 42%. We are proud of the success of our scholars but we believe we can further improve their college experiences, graduation rates, and career preparedness, and increase their access to success! Our plan is expand our current program by implementing the following extension: College Success: To, Through, and Beyond.
Service Areas

Self-reported

Illinois

We currently serve disadvantaged African American youth that reside in Cook County Illinois.

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Financials

Financial information is an important part of gauging the short- and long-term health of the organization.

Link Unlimited Scholars
Fiscal year: Jul 01-Jun 30
Yes, financials were audited by an independent accountant.

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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Link Unlimited Scholars

Leadership

NEED MORE INFO ON THIS NONPROFIT?

Free: Gain immediate access to the following:
  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2015, 2014 and 2013
  • Board Chair and Board Members
  • Access to the GuideStar Community
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Principal Officer

Dr. Roslind Blasingame-Buford

Governance

BOARD CHAIR

Paul Crimmins

BOARD LEADERSHIP PRACTICES

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices. Self-reported by organization

Yes

BOARD ORIENTATION & EDUCATION

Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?

Yes

CEO OVERSIGHT

Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?

Yes

ETHICS & TRANSPARENCY

Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?

Yes

BOARD COMPOSITION

Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?

Yes

BOARD PERFORMANCE

Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?