Header Media

Black-and-white photo of people of diverse ages, all suited, standing before a building with wood doors
Black-and-white historic photograph featuring several people in jackets, dresses and suits standing before a brick building
Black-and-white historic shot of several people standing or kneeling together, outdoors, tree in background
Black-and-white historic photo of people standing before a house porch with the sign %22ABC House%22

Mission and History

Our Vision

To be the preeminent resource for identifying, recruiting and developing leaders among young people of color throughout the United States.

Our Mission

To increase substantially the number of well-educated young people of color who are capable of assuming positions of responsibility and leadership in American society.

Our History In Context: A Timeline

1957

Desegregation Begins

In Little Rock, Arkansas, under the protection of the National Guard, nine courageous youths are the first black students to attend a segregated high school.

1960

Peaceful Protest

A group of black college students in North Carolina holds a non-violent sit-in resistance campaign in an effort to block segregation in public facilities.

1962

Beginnings

23 headmasters in the New England area met to discuss the relationship of poverty to the lack of quality education.  This group, under the leadership of Richard Plaut, Director of the National Scholarship and Service Fund for Negro Students (NSSFNS), Howard Jones, President of Northfield Mount Hermon School, and John Kemper, Headmaster of Phillips Academy, concluded that providing better lives for minorities was to increase graduation rates from their institutions.

1962

College Desegregation Begins

James Meredith is the first black student to attend the University of Mississippi, thus breaking down the door to racial segregation at the college level.

1963

Project ABC Founded

Under a grant awarded by the Charles E. Merrill Trust, the Independent Schools Talent Search (ISTS) was formed to recruit qualified students to attend a preparatory program for "talented Negro boys" wishing to attend college. Dartmouth College, in Hanover, New Hampshire, became the site of a radical experiment known as Project ABC: A Better Chance.

1963

March on Washington

Martin Luther King, Jr., leads the historic March on Washington, D.C., for equal rights for all minorities.

1964

First Class

The inaugural class of 55 ninth and tenth grade students to enter private schools, each of which had agreed to accept them that fall. The eight-week tutorial summer session at Dartmouth College became a runaway success.

1964

Visiting Hero

Jackie Robinson, baseball legend and pioneer for racial integration in sports, visits the young A Better Chance Scholars at Dartmouth College to wish them luck and offer encouragement.

1964

Civil Rights Act

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlaws discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin and prohibits unequal application of voter registration requirements, racial segregation of schools, employment, and public accommodation.

1965

Voting Rights

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 suspends the use of literacy tests and voter disqualification devices and authorizes the use of federal examiners to supervise voter registration in some states.

1966

Public School Program

The Public School Program is created as a unique solution to address the needs of an ever-growing wait list of candidates.  The Dresden A Better Chance Public School Program opens in Hanover, New Hampshire; students live in a town residence while they attend Hanover High School.

1966

Headquarters Moves

A Better Chance headquarters moves from Hanover, New Hampshire, to Boston, Massachusetts.

1968

1st Black Congresswoman Elected

Shirley Chisholm becomes first Black woman elected to Congress, representing Brooklyn, New York.

1971

New Leader

William D. Berkeley becomes A Better Chance's first president, serving from 1971 to 1974.

1971

Joining Efforts

A Better Chance and the Public School Program formally merge to form A Better Chance, Inc.

1972

1st Rhodes Scholar

A Better Chance Alumnus, Jesse Spikes, Dresden A Better Chance Public School Program '68, becomes the first A Better Chance Alumnus to be named a Rhodes Scholar.

1974

President Boyd

Dr. William M. Boyd, II, becomes A Better Chance's second president, serving from 1974 to 1982

1983

President Griffin

Judith Berry Griffin becomes A Better Chance's third president, serving from 1983 to 2003.

1987

Awards Begin

The first A Better Chance Annual Awards Luncheon is held, presenting the first Corporate Award to John Akers, CEO of IBM. The event will raise over $22 million in support of the organization's programs over the next 30 years.

1988

Alumna Grammy

A Better Chance Alumna, Tracy Chapman, wins three Grammy Awards for “Best New Artist”, “Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female” for the song Fast Car, and “Best Contemporary Folk Recording.”

1989

Expansion

A Better Chance begins significant programmatic expansion.  Over the next decade, initiatives such as the Affiliated Colleges Program, the Business/Professional Partnership Program, and the Pathways to College Program with its companion guidebook “Pathways to College: An Explorer's Guide” are created.

1996

Star Power

A Better Chance supporter, Diana Ross, co-produces and stars in the Super Bowl XXX half-time show; her performance concludes with a nationally televised public-service announcement about A Better Chance.

2000

Endowment

Oprah Winfrey bestows a $10 million gift to establish an endowment for A Better Chance.

2002

Top Charity

A Better Chance makes WORTH magazine's 100 Best Charities in America list.

2003

Current President

Sandra E. Timmons joins A Better Chance as its fourth president on May 12, 2003.

2007

Alumnus Governor

Deval Patrick, Alumnus of A Better Chance, is elected Governor of Massachusetts, becoming the state’s first African American governor.

2008

Building Dreams

The DreamBuilder Society launches inviting members to be part of an esteemed group of annual fund donors who recognize the need to build a pipeline of leaders of color.

2009

1st Black US President

Barack Obama is sworn in as the 44th President of the United States, becoming the first African American to become President.

2013

50 Years

A Better Chance celebrates its 50th Anniversary and launches the There is No Stopping Us capital campaign.

2014

Alumna Best-Selling Author

Author and A Better Chance Alumna, Roxane Gay, publishes The New York Times-bestselling essay collection titled “Bad Feminist”.

2015

100%

All 405 A Better Chance graduating seniors enrolled directly into college.

2016

Capital Campaign Success

The There Is No Stopping Us capital campaign concludes, raising $16.2 million!

2016

1963 Society

The 1963 Society launches to recognize donors who contribute $5,000 or more annually and who share an enduring commitment to helping talented youth. 

2017

Pressman Society

The Ron and Mary Pressman Continuous Giving Society is named in honor of A Better Chance former Chairman, Ron Pressman and his wife Mary. The society recognizes individuals and organizations that have generously chosen A Better Chance as their top philanthropic priorities for three or more consecutive years.

2017

Soaring Ahead

The Boeing Company awards $500,000 to A Better Chance for Alumni engagement initiatives.

2018

New Record

A Better Chance places a record 571 students into its Member Schools nationwide.

Press

Tracy Chapman, in stonewashed denim, leans against the outside of a granite building.

As a resource for students and parents, ThoughtCo created this profile of A Better Chance, featuring some of our high-profile Alumni - including Deval Patrick and Tracy Chapman.