Questions are being posed. Discussions are growing louder. The hard look in the mirror has arrived.

2020 was a year of incidents large and small, tragic and disheartening. It has been a year where a pandemic threw a glaring spotlight on the racial inequities of our healthcare system. It has been a year of violence in our streets because questions have been asked as to what is justice, what is law, what is order? What is murder? Why do we continue to live with institutionalized racism?

City Colleges of Chicago serves an incredibly diverse student body as a gateway to both academic advantage and the potential of upward mobility. It has long ceased to be a holding ground for those with no other educational option. It is an affordable, quality education for those who seek a better life.

And yet it still can be out of reach.

City Colleges of Chicago matters because it is empowering the lives of Black Chicagoans. It serves a unique and critical role in this community and deserves the attention of the citizens it serves.

That is why in the month of February and March, the City Colleges of Chicago Foundation is bringing the strength of its seven colleges to bear for a series of live-streaming discussions – Seven Strong: Why City Colleges Matter.

Speaker Series Discussions:

Join us for the Seven Strong Speaker Series, Why City Colleges of Chicago Matters: Empowering Black Lives. Click the plus sign next to each topic to learn about the individual sessions. To receive a link to a discussion’s live broadcast, please register by clicking the corresponding “register” button. In addition, recordings will be made available following the live broadcasts.

Click to View Recording or Donate

Co-Hosts: Diana Rauner, President, Start Early; and Gary Rozier, Chair, City Colleges of Chicago Foundation and Managing Director, Oak Street Real Estate

Moderator: Walter E. Massey, Ph. D., Chair, City Colleges of Chicago Board of Trustees and Retired Chairman, Bank of America 

Speakers: David Clunie, CEO, Black Economic Alliance; Carlos Cubia, Senior Vice President, Global Chief Diversity Officer, Walgreens Boots Alliance; and John W. Rogers, Jr., Chairman and CEO, Ariel Investments


As awareness of the legacy and impact of institutionalized racism and injustice nationwide grows—the mandate for diversity, equity and inclusion across sectors is clear.  We have invited some of the nation’s top Black corporate leaders to engage in dialogue with Walter Massey, retired chairman, Bank of America with David Clunie, CEO, Black Economic Alliance; Carlos Cubia, Vice President & Global Chief Human Resources, Walgreens Boots Alliance and John Rogers, Chairman and CEO, Ariel Investments to discuss the larger context around championing diversity, equity and inclusion and how community colleges can support this mandate in the corporate sector.

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Host: Ola Bolton, Global Ethnicity Lead, Accenture 

Moderator: Elizabeth Swanson, Vice Chair, City Colleges of Chicago Board of Trustees and CEO, A Better Chicago

Speakers: Austan Goolsbee, The University of Chicago Booth School; and John B. King, Jr., CEO, The Education Trust


While many community college students “drop-out” early in their educational careers, Black and LatinX students do so at a higher rate. Shedding light on structural and systemic causes of this issue is critical to reimagining success for Black students. Join us for a conversation with Austan Goolsbee, Economist and Professor of Economics at University of Chicago Booth School, and John B. King, Jr., Education Trust CEO, moderated by Elizabeth Swanson, CEO of A Better Chicago, to explore these issues.

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Host: Ellen S. Alberding, President, The Joyce Foundation

Discussion Sponsor: The Joyce Foundation

Moderator: Darren Reisberg, Vice President of Programs and Strategy, The Joyce Foundation

Speakers: Khadijah Bilal, President, Harold Washington College Black Student Union; Angelique Nieves, Student, Olive-Harvey College; and David Sanders, President of Malcolm X College


The pandemic has wreaked havoc on community college students. In the best of times, many students, including those who have families to support, were surviving. The shift to remote learning, living in already under-resourced communities, and COVID-related unemployment has left community college students in a perilous financial situation. Join Darren Reisberg, VP of Programs and Strategy and The Joyce Foundation, Khadijah Bilal, President, Harold Washington College Black Student Union, Angelique Nieves, student, Olive-Harvey College, and David Sanders, President of Malcolm X College, and as they discuss how COVID has impacted their academic plans and lives moving forward and their beliefs about the recovery.

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Host: Namrata Yadav, Diversity and Inclusion Executive, Bank of America

Discussion Sponsor: Bank of America and Comcast

Moderator: Eric B. Lugo, Director, External Relations for Talent Programs, DPI

Speakers: Carlton Gordon, Jr., Managing Director, Midwest Region, Catalyte; David A. Gupta, CEO, SDI Presence; Jacqueline S. Hester, Dean, Community Education Programs, Kennedy-King College; and Cara Pan, Chicago Market Executive, Bank of America


Chicago has long desired to be a hub for innovation, technology and entrepreneurialism. City Colleges is partnering with a number of local companies to begin to build the pipeline for employees that can fill the roles focused on that innovation and technology. Eric Lugo, Director of External Relations for Talent Programs at DPI moderates a discussion with Carlton Gordon, Managing Director, Midwest Region at Catalyte; David Gupta, CEO of SDI Presence; Jacqueline Hester, Dean of Community Education Programs at Kennedy-King College; and Cara Pan, Chicago Market Executive at Bank of America that will focus on the Tech LaunchPad and the TechQuity programs, which strive to place more students into this high-earning field. We will hear from these corporate leaders about opportunity and equity in the tech industry. 

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Host: Martin Cabrera, Jr., CEO and Founder, Cabrera Capital Markets

Discussion Sponsor: Cabrera Capital Markets

Moderator: Natalie Y. Moore, reporter, WBEZ

Speakers: Helene D. Gayle, CEO, The Chicago Community Trust; Michelle Morales, President, Woods Fund Chicago; and Angelique Power, President, Field Foundation


Chicago’s philanthropic community has pivoted to investing specifically to counter anti-Blackness and systemic racism and to create a more equitable city. These philanthropic leaders will talk with us about the initiatives afoot and how we will see these dollars applied in the community college space.

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Host: Robin Lavin, President, The Osa Foundation

Moderator: Liz Thompson, President, The Cleveland Avenue Foundation for Education

Speakers: Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, City of Chicago (invited); Chancellor Juan Salgado, City Colleges of Chicago; and Eric Smith, Vice Chairman, BMO Harris Bank


This conversation between a special guest and Chancellor Juan Salgado will focus on how City Colleges is positioned to help lead the city’s post-COVID economic recovery and support communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and historical inequality in achieving upward mobility.

This event is by invitation only.

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Moderator: Xavier Ramey, CEO, Justice InformedSpeakers: F. Christopher Goins, Chief Diversity Officer, Thrive Chicago; Shawn L. Jackson, President, Truman College; and Michael Strautmanis, Chief Engagement Officer, Obama Foundation


Why do Black men comprise only 2 percent of the U.S. teaching force in American public schools? It is imperative to recruit, train and educate more Black male educators to ensure all student success, but especially Black student success. Having a teacher of the same race/ethnicity can have positive impacts on a student’s attitudes, motivation, and achievement. In this panel, moderated by Xavier Ramey, CEO of Justice Informed, Chris Goins, Chief of Equity at Thrive Chicago, Truman College President Shawn L. Jackson, and Chief Engagement Officer Michael Strautmanis of the Obama Foundation will examine the importance of this imperative and how to scale the work to ensure Black male student success.  

Why City Colleges of Chicago Matters:

Empowering Black Lives

  • Our anti-racism agenda places the elimination of anti-Blackness at the center of its work knowing anti-Blackness is the deepest, most enduring and damaging root of racism in our city and country. Addressing anti-Blackness opens the opportunity for all of us to live in a society more reflective of our vision and values as a city and nation.
  • City Colleges is already on the cutting edge of prioritizing equity and empowering our students– in 2020, each college released a strategic Equity Plan, a search was launched for an Associate Vice Chancellor of Racial Equity, and an anti-racism advisory committee made up of faculty, staff, students, alumni and administrators, is in the midst of being created.
  • Our diverse student population (more than 75% of CCC students are Black or Latinx) faces unique challenges that can deter them from continuing on their path to higher education and economic mobility–yet, despite the circumstances, CCC students succeed.
  • City Colleges also launched Fresh Start, a debt forgiveness program for students who left City Colleges with debt that prevents them from completing their degree or certificate. Fresh Start works with students to remove this debt, complete their programs of study, and achieve financial freedom, addressing historical racial and economic inequities.

 You Can Help

The City Colleges of Chicago Foundation needs your help to support our students as they persist, persevere, and ultimately achieve their academic and career goals no matter what may stand in their way. They want a quality education, and they work hard to attain one. Your donation directly supports our students in acquiring the services they need to put them on a path toward a certificate or associate degree, a four-year program, or a fulfilling career.

Why Donate to the CCC Foundation?

  • Our Black Excellence and Equity Fund creates a safety net for students, eliminating barriers to their academic success and ensuring an equitable space for them to flourish.
  • City Colleges of Chicago’s Emergency Fund was overwhelmed with applications when the CCC COVID-19 Emergency Fund was created. Funds have been exhausted, but requests for help are still coming in every day.
  • Scholarships and grants cover gaps that financial aid can’t, and are available to any student, including those who are undocumented.
  • The Chancellor’s Retention Fund provides direct support to students that face financial challenges and helps them cross the finish-line.
  • Student resources from Wellness Centers to Loaner Laptops are in high demand as students take part in remote learning and City Colleges offers all of our student services virtually. Supports like the Transfer Center, Tutoring Center, and Career Planning and Placement Center are always there to make sure students are reaching the goals they set for themselves.
SUPPORT SEVEN STRONG

Ella Flagg Young Award

Ella Flagg Young was the first woman in America to head a major urban school system and was superintendent of schools when City Colleges of Chicago opened its doors on September 11, 1911. This award is presented yearly during our Seven Strong event to a leader who has made a critical difference in Chicago through their partnership with City Colleges of Chicago.

The 2021 Ella Flagg Young Award Honoree is Timuel D. Black Jr.

The Ella Flagg Young Award recipient Timuel D. Black Jr. is a nationally-respected educator, political activist, community leader, oral historian, philanthropist, and philosopher. He also has a history with City Colleges of Chicago, having held both faculty and administrative positions within the system. For his courageous leadership and vast accomplishments, Black has received numerous honors and awards, including the ACLU’s Civil Libertarian of the Year and the City of Chicago’s inaugural Champion of Freedom medal. At 102 years old, Timuel Black continues to call the South Side of Chicago his home.

Read Timuel D. Black Jr.’s biography here.

Support the Seven Strong Speaker Series by Becoming a Sponsor or Donate Today

SUPPORT SEVEN STRONG

Sponsor Confirmation Form
Sponsor Benefits – PDF

Sponsor Benefits

  • Presenting Sponsor – $50,000
    • Sponsor recognition on Seven Strong Series press release
    • Verbal acknowledgment as Series Presenting Sponsor during all Seven Strong Series Discussion
    • Pre-recorded video statement during Seven Strong Series Promotion
    • Sponsor recognition during all Seven Strong Series Discussions
    • Unlimited access to all Series discussions
    • All benefits of Host Sponsor level 
  • Host Sponsor – $25,000
    • Option to host one series discussion (to be mutually agreed upon)
    • Pre-recorded introduction or close of one Seven Strong Series Discussion (to be mutually agreed upon between sponsor and CCC)
    • Access for 10 guests to all Series discussions
    • All benefits of Discussion Sponsor Level
  • Discussion Sponsor – $10,000
    • Sponsor recognition for one Seven Strong Series Discussion (sponsor will be recognized on all material specific to the determined Discussion; Discussion to be selected by Sponsor)
    • Verbal acknowledgment as Seven Strong Series Discussion sponsor during select Discussion (Discussion to be determined by Sponsor)
    • Pre-event social media promotion on CCC platforms
    • Special Thank You reception with CCC Chancellor and other VIPS
    • Access for 10 guests to one discussion
    • All benefits of General Sponsor Level
  • General Sponsor – $5,000
    • Sponsor recognition on general Seven Strong Series collateral (invitation, event website, and CCC website)
    • Access for 5 guests at one discussion

Presenting Sponsor

Host Sponsors

Discussion Sponsors

General Sponsors

Shirley and Walter Massey