SPRINGFIELD – Leading postsecondary success organization OneGoal and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) today announced the beginning of a new partnership that will bring OneGoal's postsecondary success support to districts and high schools across the state.
The two-year contract is driven by OneGoal's District Partnership Program, an initiative that integrates the nonprofit's proven postsecondary success model into the fabric of school districts by embedding the OneGoal class into high schools and co-creating system-wide solutions that leverage the professional learning, curriculum, data, and ongoing consultation OneGoal has honed over the past decade. The collaboration will support district leaders to strengthen postsecondary enrollment and persistence in their communities and bolster other leading indicators for college and career readiness, including FAFSA completion and Early College Coursework Enrollment. Ultimately, the partnership will ensure more first-generation students from low-income communities can explore multiple postsecondary pathways that lead to economic mobility and family-sustaining wages.
“Most high-paying jobs require some postsecondary education, whether a degree or other credential. For too long in postsecondary success we have seen opportunity gaps by race and family income—unacceptable gaps that the pandemic has only made worse,"
said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen I. Ayala. “Partnering with OneGoal is a critical step to close opportunity gaps and equitably support college and career success for all our students across the state. This new collaboration directly supports ISBE's core principles - equity, quality, collaboration, and community - and our responsibility to pursue educational equity for all of our students in all of our classrooms, schools, and districts."
“We are so excited for what this partnership means for students across Illinois,"
shared OneGoal CEO Melissa Connelly, who herself attended high school in an Illinois district. “Postsecondary success is a system-level challenge. With the right skills, knowledge, and support, leaders across the state can improve the quality and quantity of support students receive so all students in Illinois have an equitable opportunity to achieve their long-term career ambitions."
Districts are looking for systemic solutions to more equitably support advising for students, especially given the impact of COVID on postsecondary enrollment. Statewide in Illinois, the average student to counselor ratio is 579 to 1. In 2020, 57.6% of low-income students in Illinois enrolled in college within 12 months of graduation compared to 79.4% of their non-low-income peers.1 Overall, postsecondary enrollment dropped by 5.4% from 2019 to 2020, with larger decreases in community college enrollment (13.7% decrease) and undergraduate enrollment (7.2% decrease).2 Illinois' P-20 Council highlighted the need to address this crisis in its Learning Renewal Resource Guide, specifically prioritizing a “targeted (re)engagement strategy and communication program to boost enrollment in postsecondary."
OneGoal and ISBE have partnered to offer services to districts and schools across the state by leveraging $7.5 million in federal pandemic relief funds, which means no cost to inaugural partner districts. In the first year of partnership, OneGoal will offer its Postsecondary Leadership Series - a range of leadership development services aimed to build capacity at the system level to ensure more equitable outcomes for students, district leaders, and school leadership teams - in 30-50 districts in high-priority areas across all six geographic regions of school districts in Illinois. As an approved Administrator Academy in Illinois, school and district leaders who participate in the OneGoal Series will receive credit toward their administrative license renewal requirements. In the second year, leadership development services will continue, and approximately 80 schools across 15-20 districts will adopt OneGoal's core school-based model, which pairs a teacher with a cohort of about 25 students.
OneGoal isn't new to Illinois; the organization was originally founded in Chicago in 2007, and the District Partnership Program currently partners with Elgin School District U-46, a suburban district with over 37,000 students and 7 high schools.
“OneGoal provides us with the space to collaborate to improve our postsecondary structure for all of our students,"
shared Michele Chapman, Director of Postsecondary Success for Elgin. “Two years ago, our postsecondary enrollment numbers were not where we wanted them to be and we found inconsistencies between our schools. We knew we needed a systematic approach, and OneGoal has created that for us through leadership support and their in-class model. Our students can now articulate their postsecondary goals, and our staff know how to support them."
As their partnership gets underway, OneGoal and ISBE will collaborate to connect with districts across the state with a priority deadline of Monday, November 22 for applications. The application is open to all school districts; ISBE will select inaugural districts to participate based on current postsecondary outcomes, opportunity gaps, and financial need. Leaders who are interested in accelerating system-level change in their district are encouraged to visit
OneGoal's website to learn more, fill out an application, and connect with OneGoal's team.
OneGoal is a national postsecondary access and success organization dedicated to closing the degree divide in America and creating a more equitable future for all students whose career aspirations require a postsecondary degree, certificate, or credential. We do this by building adult capacity across schools and districts and by providing robust one-on-one advising to students so that more institutions can equitably support their students' postsecondary aspirations. 84% of OneGoal high school graduates enroll in a postsecondary institution and 75% of those who enroll persist one year after high school. In the 2020/21 school year, OneGoal reached more than 12,000 students through partnerships with schools and districts across the country.
The Crucial Role of College Counselors, The Atlantic, 2014
 Illinois State Board of Education