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

69 percent of Chicago Public Schools high school freshmen aspire to earn a college degree, yet projections show only 19 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 OnTrack 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 OnTrack indicator into its accountability framework in 2003, but the district’s Freshman OnTrack 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 OnTrack rates. In response, CPS began providing every high school with bi-weekly Freshman OnTrack data reports and the University of Chicago’s Network for College Success began providing training and resources to help CPS schools put Freshman OnTrack 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 OnTrack 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 OnTrack 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.

The 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 OnTrack 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:

The To&Through Project: Alexander Seeskin
Alex Seeskin
Director of The To&Through Project; Chief Strategy Officer
The University of Chicago Urban Education Institute
Dominique McKoy
Associate Director of the To&Through Project
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
Network for College Success
Meghan Baer
Director of Development
Network for College Success
Dayna Dion
Senior Director of National and Global Engagement
The University of Chicago Urban Education Institute
Jasmin Lee
Research Analyst
UChicago Consortium on School Research
Shelby Mahaffie
Research Analyst
UChicago Consortium on School Research
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: 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
Krystal Payne
Leadership Coach
Network for College Success
LaKisha Pittman
Impact Manager
Network for College Success
Jessica Tansey
Communications Manager
UChicago Consortium on School Research
Paulina Torres-Orejuela
Research Analyst
UChicago Consortium on School Research
Alexandra Usher
Associate Director for Data Research; Senior Research Analyst
UChicago Consortium on School Research

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
Chris Broughton
Executive Director
Bottom Line Chicago
Jessica Canas
College Pipeline Specialist
Little Village Education Collaborative
Catherine Deutsch
Chief of Staff
Aarti Dhupelia
Vice President of Strategic Initiatives
National Louis University
Augustine Emuwa
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
Washington High School
Marv Hoffman
AIM High
Christopher Kelly
Phoenix Pact Fund
Patrick Milton
Executive Director, Office of School Counseling and Postsecondary Advising
Chicago Public Schools
Matt Niksch
Chief College Officer
Noble Network of Charter Schools
Paige Ponder
Chief Executive Officer
One Million Degrees
Arie van der Ploeg
American Institutes for Research
Ashley Richardson
Executive Director
Spark Chicago
Will Torres
Chief College Officer
UChicago Charter School
Dominique Jordan Turner
President and CEO
Chicago Scholars
Kyle Westbrook
Executive Director
Partnership for College Completion