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Photo of Dominique Jordan Turner

Dominique Jordan Turner

2018 Obama Fellows


The Problem:

The United States is becoming increasingly diverse—however, these changing demographics are not reflected in positions of power, resulting in a gulf between those who hold leadership roles and the people they lead. Education serves as a key pipeline for leadership, but not all populations can fully access educational opportunities. Just 8% of under-resourced youth across the US currently graduate from college. In Chicago, only 18% of public school freshmen—and only 6% of African-American males—ultimately graduate from college by age 25. Without college degrees, these students are often cut off from upwardly mobile careers or positions of leadership in their communities.

The Approach:

Chicago Scholars Opens in a new tab works to change these realities through a seven-year education and mentorship program that serves the most under-resourced students in the city of Chicago. 86% of Chicago Scholars graduate from college within six years, becoming the first in their families to obtain college degrees and breaking generational cycles of poverty. Through leadership development, mentoring, college matching, and access to resources, the Scholars program Opens in a new tab empowers participants to attend college, supports them in successfully obtaining degrees, and connects them to career opportunities back home in Chicago. Universities around the country see the program’s participants as appealing members of their incoming student classes, and companies look to the program’s college graduates to find diverse talent. By working in collaboration with the entire community, Chicago Scholars is starting to change the narrative of what’s possible for young Chicago residents—and demonstrating the power of developing a new generation of local talent and leadership.

My civic hero:

Tosha Downey, of the Memphis Education Fund. She uses her voice to lift up other leaders and create change in her hometown community.


Dominique's organization was chosen by LeBron James as Team LeBron's charity of choice at NBA All Star!

Today we continue our #BlackHistoryMonth Opens in a new tab series with one of our #ObamaFellows Opens in a new tab Dominique J. Turner, whose organization @ChicagoScholars Opens in a new tab , was selected as #TeamLebron Opens in a new tab ’s @NBAAllStar Opens in a new tab charity.

“I’m just like them. As a first-generation, low-income student, education changed my life.” Opens in a new tab

— The Obama Foundation (@ObamaFoundation) February 19, 2020 Opens in a new tab