One Million Degrees: Taking Chicago's Community Colleges Through the Pandemic and Beyond


When the pandemic hit Chicago’s community colleges, One Million Degrees started thinking about how they could best support their students.

Before the pandemic, “students were already challenged to buy groceries, make ends meet, to pay for hospital bills,” said Danielle McConnell, director of program at One Million Degrees (OMD). “Our program was set up to provide those wraparound supports, to always think creatively about how to support students financially.”

OMD created an emergency fund of roughly $150,000, through which they were able to directly support about 300 students. One of those students was Noale Peacock, who used her pandemic payment for groceries and wireless, a necessity for all-virtual learning environments.

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