c3 hero

South Side College and Career Catalyst Program

Building on college readiness programming the University of Chicago has offered to Chicago public high school students for more than 50 years, the new South Side College and Career Catalyst Program (C3) provides year-round student development support, college and career exploration activities, and educational opportunities to prepare first generation, low-income Chicago public high school students from the South Side for academic and career-related postsecondary success.

college readiness


In 1968, coach and education pioneer Larry Hawkins founded programming on UChicago’s campus to support underserved and under-resourced Chicago high school students and the University has offered a version of that programming ever since. The new, multi-year South Side College and Career Catalyst Program (C3) carries on that legacy by supporting 9th- to 12th-grade students as they prepare for, apply to, and enroll in college and embark on meaningful future careers.

The new program begins with a six-week summer academic enrichment session with simulated college-level courses designed to expose students to core areas such as English, social sciences, math, humanities, and science/STEM. Students have an opportunity to live on campus while attending classes, gaining insights into the college experience.

Throughout the academic year and summer months, students also take part in activities including monthly college and career readiness workshops; local and national college visits; and cultural and community-building field trips. Students additionally have access to academic tutoring and college advising support, an annual college fair and career conference, and other student development resources.

college readiness

Who We Serve

  • 50 9th to 12th grade students per year
  • Priority will be given to low-income, or first-generation college students who live or attend a public or charter high school in one of the following communities in the Office of Civic Engagement’s nine-neighborhood focus area on the South Side:
    • Douglas
    • Grand Boulevard
    • Greater Grand Crossing
    • Hyde Park
    • Kenwood
    • Oakland
    • South Shore
    • Washington Park
    • Woodlawn
college readiness


Applications are accepted in the fall and spring. 

Students in grades 9-11, who live in or attend school on Chicago's South Side are eligible to apply.

Students must have:
• completed 8th grade and be enrolled in a Chicago Public Schools high school or public charter school in Chicago
• a GPA of 2.5 or higher
• a desire to grow and succeed academically
• an interest in exploring post-secondary options, including college and career pathways

Questions about the Catalyst Program? Email uccatalyst@uchicago.edu or call 773-702-8288. Click here to get a program flyer.