Our Mission

Pursue Scholars holistically invests in emerging urban leaders in pursuit of higher education. 

Our staff and volunteers identify, train, and offer ongoing support to emerging urban leaders as they pursue higher education.  Our vision is to see communities throughout the city of Chicago transformed as a new generation of leaders invests themselves into our neighborhoods.

How We Accomplish Our Mission

Pursue Scholars provides financial, social, and spiritual support to emerging urban Christian leaders in their pursuit of higher education:

Financially

We provide a wide range of leadership scholarships through our Daniels Scholars and Act Six Scholars programs.

Socially

We offer a community of support to help students know they are not alone. Our networking opportunities serve to create a connection with Pursue Scholars staff & volunteers, to foster a sense of community between scholars, and to help with employment after college.

Spiritually

We are strategic about investing in the spiritual formation of our scholars. The college years are a critical time for setting the foundation for a lifetime.

Our History & Facts

THE HUMBLE START

In July of 2007, Kevin Gwin began PURSUE with a vision to invest in the next generation of urban leaders.  This was done by supporting Christian young people who are pursuing a college education. PURSUE originally started as a ministry of Vision Nehemiah.  That first year began with investing in 3 college freshman. Each year, a new class of students were added.

BIRTH OF PURSUE SCHOLARS

In the fall of 2010, PURSUE became Pursue Scholars and incorporated with the state of Illinois as a recognized 501©3 charity.

THE FIRST CLASS

In 2011, we celebrated our first graduating class as our original 3 freshman all graduated from college. By this time, we now had 15 students on scholarship.

COLLEGE PARTNERSHIP

In 2015, Pursue Scholars partnered with Act Six to begin Chicago’s newest full-tuition, full-need urban leadership award. In 2021, our sixth Cadre of Chicago’s most promising urban leaders were selected for scholarships to Taylor University.

 2020 REFLECTION

Nobody was prepared for what we would face in 2020. When the world shut down two weeks before our annual fundraising dinner, we began our pandemic pivot. We adjusted our programming to support our scholars as they shifted off campus to virtual learning. As we replanned our fundraising efforts for the year, the highly successful Pursue Unity campaign was formed. By God’s grace, we ended the year stronger and in a better position to grow forward. In spite of the challenges of 2020, we are so thankful for all who were involved in the growth of Pursue Scholars in the midst of a season of adversity. The future continues to look bright as we are offering greater holistic support for a growing number of young leaders.

CONTINUAL PROGRESS

We have now seen 67 emerging leaders graduate from college with two thirds of them returing to Chicago.  We have 58 students planning to be in college for the 2021-’22 school year. We are excited to see a growing number of leaders reinvesting themselves back into our city. Pursue Scholars is successful when ambitious emerging leaders are graduating form college, feel equipped and empowered to step into their gifts and callings, and are collaborating with one another to bring sustainable change to our city.

Persistence Rate

92%

Awarded

$4,000,000+

Colleges

53

Scholars & Alums

146

Student Gender

  • Female
  • Male

Student Race

  • African American
  • Hispanic
  • Caucasian
  • Asian
  • Bi-racial

Our Staff

Our Board

Great work can only happen with great support. Here are our Board of Directors:

    • Robin Butler: (Secretary) Merrill Lynch, Wealth Management Adviser
    • Jeff Scott(Treasurer) Madison Capital Funding, Director
    • Candace Washington: Pivotal Impact, Founder and Chief Impact Officer
    • Bianca Mena: Alumni Representative – 2018 Graduate of Dominican University

Young Professionals Board

A group of young professionals, who gather to support the work and mission of Pursue Scholars.

Benefits

    • Opportunity to invest in the community

    • Network with other young professionals

    • Develop your professional and leadership skills

    • Personal knowledge of and interaction with Pursue Scholars

    • Exposure to PS staff and board of directors

    • Guest speakers at meetings

    • Avenue for engaging friends in the cause

    • Have fun

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Expectations & Responsibilities

    • “Give or get” at least $250 per year through fundraising

    • Attend at least 50% of scheduled meetings for the year

    • Help grow awareness of Pursue Scholars in your networks

    • Participate in other fundraising events through your skills, network, and support

    • Help develop new fundraising opportunities for Pursue Scholars

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