Silas Purnell is the legendary founder of our acclaimed College Preparation & Placement Program. For several decades, at our offices in the basement of the Dearborn Homes housing development project on Chicago’s south side, he opened a critical door of opportunity for African American students to receive a post-secondary education. Thousands of leaders and professionals locally and throughout the country credit Mr. Purnell for putting them on the path to a promising future. Students left his office with moral support, an advocate for their success, and the financial resources they needed to afford and attend college. His approach was personable, inspiring and persistent.
Mr. Purnell founded our College Preparation & Placement Program in the 1960s, and it continues to thrive.
- We have now placed more than 75,000 African American high school students in over 400 colleges and universities throughout the United States, many of whom have been first-generation students.
- We have helped secure over $100 million in grants and scholarships over the last seven years alone, including $10.5 million for two consecutive years in 2020 and 2021, despite the pandemic and the challenges it presented.
- The program has expanded to provide early intervention to 1,700 elementary and high school students annually through field trips, college tours, workshops, living and learning resources, mentorship, and academic support.
If Silas Purnell helped you attend college, or you are an alum of the College Preparation and Placement Program that continued after his tenure, we invite you to fill out the form below to receive updates on the current work of the program and how you can support this legacy.