The To&Through Project’s mission is to close the aspiration-attainment gap with research, data, and resources designed to give every student who aspires to earn a college degree the opportunity and support to do so.

Chicago—with the right research, data, and resources—has moved thousands more students to and through high school and college. As a nation, we can move millions.

Arne Duncan
Managing Partner, Emerson Collective; Former U.S. Secretary of Education and CEO of Chicago Public Schools

Our Mission

76 percent of Chicago Public Schools high school freshmen aspire to earn a college degree, yet projections show only 18 percent of them will go on to earn a four-year college degree within ten years. Nationally, the vast majority of all high school students aspire to earn a college degree, yet less than one in three succeed.

The To&Through Project’s mission is to close this gap, with research, data, and resources designed to give every student who aspires to earn a college degree the opportunity and support to do so.

Helping more students make it to and through high school and college is critical, not only because it will result in more students realizing their college aspirations, but also because research tells us that a college degree is still the most effective path out of poverty. People who finish college also tend to be healthier and happier—less likely to get involved in crime or suffer from illness, and more likely to volunteer, vote, engage in their communities, and even live longer.

The To&Through Project has seen the three pillars of Research, Data, and Resources come together to catalyze dramatic improvement in Chicago’s schools.

Our Theory of Change

We believe that every student who wants to earn a college degree should have the opportunity and support to do so.

We know that there are key attainment milestones on the path to and through high school and college.

We commit to providing educators, families, and policymakers with the research, data, and resources they need to move more students to and through high school and college.

Our History

The To&Through Project builds off of the tremendous success of Freshman On-Track in Chicago—the story of research, data, and resources enabling the third largest school district in the United States to make dramatic, systemwide progress on its high school graduation rates. In the late 1990s, groundbreaking research from the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research revealed that being “On-Track” at the end of freshman year—having no more than one core course failure and having enough credits to be promoted to 10th grade—is more predictive of a student’s likelihood of graduating from high school than race, socioeconomic status, and prior achievement combined. Chicago Public Schools (CPS) incorporated the Freshman On-Track indicator into its accountability framework in 2003, but the district’s Freshman On-Track rate remained flat for nearly half a decade. In 2007, the Consortium expanded on its seminal research and issued a new report identifying specific strategies for improving Freshman On-Track rates. In response, CPS began providing every high school with bi-weekly Freshman On-Track data reports and the University of Chicago’s Network for College Success began providing training and resources to help CPS schools put Freshman On-Track research and data into practice.

This combination of research from the UChicago Consortium, real-time data from CPS, and training and resources from the Network for College Success supported the ongoing work of Chicago school leaders and partners to improve the ninth grade transition across the district and helped spur a 24-point increase in Freshman On-Track rates between 2007 and 2015. During the same time frame, high school graduation rates rose from 57 to 74 percent. The To&Through Project will provide education stakeholders in Chicago and across the nation with the same key ingredients that supported the Freshman On-Track initiative’s success: a combination of research, data, and resources focused on what matters most for student success.

 

Our Team

The To&Through Project is a partnership among the University of Chicago’s Urban Education Institute and Network for College Success that brings together expertise across the key domains of research, data, and training resources.

UChicago Consortium at the Urban Education Institute has conducted more than two decades of research on Chicago Public Schools to discover what matters most for school improvement and student success, providing the insight and knowledge that ground The To&Through Project. Over the last 10 years, at least 13 cities have replicated the Consortium’s model for place-based research partnerships, including New York City, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., New Orleans, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

UChicago Impact, the Urban Education Institute’s not-for-profit LLC, designed the To&Through Online Tool and partners with districts and schools across the country to provide other empirically based tools and support services that foster reliably excellent schooling. UChicago Impact currently works in more than 4,500 schools across 60 major cities in 33 states, and more than 2.8 million students nationwide have used its tools.

The Network for College Success (NCS) at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration designs and provides training and support resources to help schools and school partners build the capacity to use research and data to improve student outcomes. In addition to creating the Freshman On-Track Toolkit, NCS provides To&Through training institutes to all Chicago public high schools and recently hosted its first National Freshmen Success Institute, leading seven days of learning with teams of educators from across the country.

Finally, the Urban Education Institute’s Strategic Communications and Engagement Team works collaboratively with all of these units and organizations, enabling The To&Through Project’s research, data, and resources to reach educators and families nationwide.

Learn more about our team members below:

UEI Director Sara Ray Stoelinga
Sara Ray Stoelinga
Sara Liston Spurlark Director
The University of Chicago Urban Education Institute
The To&Through Project: Alexander Seeskin
Alex Seeskin
Director of The To&Through Project; Chief Strategy Officer
The University of Chicago Urban Education Institute
UChicago Consortium Jenny Nagaoka
Jenny Nagaoka
Deputy Director
UChicago Consortium on School Research
The To&Through Project Team: Network for College Success Sarah Duncan
Sarah Duncan
Co-Director
Network for College Success
UChicago Consortium Elaine Allensworth
Elaine Allensworth
Lewis-Sebring Director
UChicago Consortium on School Research
Dayna Dion
Dayna Dion
Senior Director of National and Global Engagement
The University of Chicago Urban Education Institute
The To&Through Project Team: Network for College Success Adelric McCain
Adelric McCain
Transition Success Coach and Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Facilitator
Network for College Success
The To&Through Project Team: UChicago Consortium Bronwyn McDaniel
Bronwyn McDaniel
Director of Outreach and Communication
UChicago Consortium on School Research
The To&Through Project Team: Network for College Success Eliza Moeller
Eliza Moeller
Associate Director of Research and Data Strategy; Research Analyst
UChicago Consortium on School Research, Network for College Success
The To&Through Project Team: Network for College Success Liz Monge-Pacheco
Liz Monge-Pacheco
Postsecondary Coach
Network for College Success
UChicago Impact Orrin Murray
Orrin Murray
Director of Technology and R&D
UChicago Impact
The To&Through Project Team
Tunde Olabisi
Data Analyst
UChicago Consortium on School Research
The To&Through Project Team: UEI Ashley Szofer
Ashley Szofer
Associate Director of Communication Strategy
The University of Chicago Urban Education Institute
UChicago Impact Maggie Walsh
Maggie Walsh
Co-CEO; Director of STEP Literacy
UChicago Impact

Our Partners and Supporters

The To&Through Project is made possible by the collaboration of many school leaders and community partners throughout Chicago Public Schools as well as the generous financial support of organizations and individuals. We would like to thank all who have been and continue to be part of our work, and recognize all of our supporters that have contributed $30k or more to fund The To&Through Project as well as the members of the To&Through Project’s Advisory Group for their guidance and support.

The Boeing Company
The Crown Family
Mary and Paul Finnegan
Harriet Heyman, AM’72 and Sir Michael Moritz
The Joyce Foundation
The Kersten Fund for Urban Education
Lewis-Sebring Family Foundation
W. Clement & Jessie V. Stone Foundation
UEI Partners Committee of the UChicago Women's Board
Saul Zaentz Charitable Foundation

 

The To&Through Advisory Group:

 

Sandra Abrevaya
President and Chief Impact Officer
Thrive Chicago
Sarah Berghorst
Executive Director
One Goal – Chicago
Anne Birberick
Vice Provost
Northern Illinois University
Ben Boer
Deputy Director
Advance Illinois
Ted Christians
Chief Executive Officer
Umoja Student Development Corporation
Catherine Deutsch
Chief Strategy and Talent Officer
Illinois Network of Charter Schools
Aarti Dhupelia
Vice President of Strategic Initiatives
National Louis University
Augustine Emuwa
Principal
Gale Math and Science Academy
Sue Farruggia
Assistant Vice Provost for Undergraduate Affairs
University of Illinois at Chicago
Jon Furr
Executive Director
Education Systems Center
Kevin Gallick
Principal
Washington High School
Marv Hoffman
AIM High
Landon Jones
Chief Alumni Officer
UChicago Charter School
Christopher Kelly
President
Phoenix Pact Fund
Alan Mather
Chief of the Office of College and Career Success
Chicago Public Schools
Patrick Milton
Executive Director, Office of School Counseling and Postsecondary Advising
Chicago Public Schools
Halleemah Nash
Executive Director
iMentor Chicago
Matt Niksch
Chief College Officer
Noble Network of Charter Schools
Dakota Pawlicki
Director of Strategic Partnerships and Projects, Office of School Counseling and Postsecondary Advising
Chicago Public Schools
Paige Ponder
Chief Executive Officer
One Million Degrees
Arie van der Ploeg
Retired
American Institutes for Research
Dominique Jordan Turner
President and CEO
Chicago Scholars
Janice Wells
Principal
South Shore International College Prep
Kyle Westbrook
Executive Director
Partnership for College Completion