Umoja Student Development Corporation

BCG’s Center for Illinois' Future helped Umoja expand its innovations in holistic student development from one Chicago area high school to 14.

Umoja Student Development Corporation

Umoja Student Development Corporation sought to expand its successful innovations in education beyond one Chicago high school into many. But the organization was not equipped to standardize its offering and then roll it out on a larger scale. Umoja engaged BCG to help design a comprehensive long-term expansion strategy and implementation plan.


BCG Solution

In 2008, the BCG team developed a strategic plan to focus and standardize Umoja’s offering, its tool to evaluate potential partners, and an economic model to evaluate the social return on investment (SROI) by the program. BCG also helped transform Umoja’s organizational structure, talent management, board development, and fundraising model.

Since completing this early work, BCG has provided support in maintaining the organization's focus on holistic student development. We have assisted Umoja's leaders in defining products and offerings that will help expand their organization’s impact while staying true to their commitment to support every student in the school.


Over the past two decades, Umoja has grown from working with one school to working with more than 3,400 students and more than 400 teachers at 14 public high school partners across Chicago.

The organization has made huge strides in its three central areas of focus—college and career readiness, social and emotional learning, and restorative justice.

  • In 2014, 96% of its senior seminar graduates applied to three or more colleges, and 91% of these seniors were accepted to college.
  • After attending Umoja's professional development institute for educators, 96% of Umoja University teachers reporting feeling more confident in meeting student development goals.
  • In schools partnering with its Restorative Justice program, Umoja has seen a 35% reduction in out-of-school suspensions.

Through its work with BCG, Umoja has incorporated the SROI model into grant applications and used our metrics framework to track its performance against strategic objectives.
By distinguishing itself as an organization focused on high-performing college access and success, Umoja has experienced strong demand for its curriculum and training from school districts across the country.

This interest has been so great that Umoja has asked BCG to help the organization consider how best to prioritize these requests for assistance. BCG’s long-term commitment to helping Umoja achieve its goals is now in its ninth year.

About Umoja Student Development Corporation

Umoja Student Development Corporation partners with 14 Chicago-area high schools to increase graduation rates and reduce youth violence through college readiness, restorative justice, and social and emotional learning. Since 2008, BCG has helped Umoja transform its organizational structure, talent management, board development, and fundraising models.