Graduation Gala

Last night, Us Empowered celebrated its Class of 2013. It was a spectacular evening for our first event, held in the cathedral room at the University Club of Chicago. Over 250 attendees showed up despite a huge rainstorm. Our net proceeds were over $140,000. Kudos goes to our amazing social entrepreneurship leaders: Jeff Nelson, Abbey Larner and Scott Goldner. 

My observations (video):

1) It was amazing to watch our fellows mix and mingle with business professionals, donors, and board members. One of the fellows told me that he had no idea how “big” this would be. One of the donors commented to me how “well-spoken” our fellows are. In the past two years, our fellows have gained a tremendous amount of self-confidence.

2)  Despite being in the worst recession in my lifetime, we surpassed our fundraising expectations substantially. I think we have a magical equation = great mission and cause, coupled with amazing social leaders, and an active board reaching out to its network. Thanks so much for all the attendees and their generosity.

3)  Our live auction yielded over $100k…I believe the ROI of our auction leader was about 33X in 18 minutes

4)  We recognized my partner, John Dugan, for his contributions from the beginning. John is an amazing person and mentor. I especially enjoyed seeing seven of John’s O’Connor & Associates partners attend and support this cause. It was nice to see a mini-reunion amongst partners. It was a nice example of how work partners can be friends for life.

At this event, our fellows from ACE Technical Charter HS, Corliss HS, and Southshore School of Entrepreneurship celebrated their entrance to college. For those readers who haven’t heard about the success of our program, here are some of our cohort’s significant accomplishments:

-100% of our Fellows has been accepted into college
-ACE Tech cohort improved its ACT scores by 30%, 4 points
-South Shore cohort improved its GPA by 40%, 2.21 to 3.08
-One of our students received the Gates Millennium Scholarship (full tuition to undergraduate and graduate students), and one became a Posse Scholar (full tuition leadership scholarship)

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I seek to find exceptional founders that have the grit and determination to continue the climb of building iconic startups.
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