Mission: The mission of LINK Unlimited Scholars is to connect high potential Black high school students with mentors, resources, and foundational skills required for success  ... (More)

LINK Unlimited Scholars is a 501(c)(3) organization, with an IRS ruling year of 1975, and donations are tax-deductible.

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Contact Information

  https://linkunlimited.org/

  2221 South State Street
Chicago IL 60616 

  312-225-5465


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Star Rating System by Charity Navigator


Charity Navigator evaluates a nonprofit organization’s financial health including measures of stability, efficiency and sustainability. We also track accountability and transparency policies to ensure the good governance and integrity of the organization.




Good

This charity's score is 82.33, earning it a 3-Star rating. Donors can "Give with Confidence" to this charity. 

This score is calculated from two sub-scores:

This score represents Form 990 data from 2021, the latest year published by the IRS. 

View this organization’s historical ratings.


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Star Rated Report

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Program Expense

Program Expense Ratio

67.6%


The Program Expense Ratio is determined by Program Expenses divided by Total Expense (average of most recent three 990s).


This measure reflects the percent of its total expenses a charity spends on the programs and services it exists to deliver. Dividing a charity's average program expenses by its average total functional expenses yields this percentage. We calculate the charity's average expenses over its three most recent fiscal years.


Source: IRS Form 990

Administrative Expenses

17.5%


As reported by charities on their IRS Form 990, this measure reflects what percent of its total budget a charity spends on overhead, administrative staff and associated costs, and organizational meetings. Dividing a charity's average administrative expenses by its average total functional expenses yields this percentage. We calculate the charity's average expenses over its three most recent fiscal years.


Source: IRS Form 990

Fundraising Expenses

14.7%


This measure reflects what a charity spends to raise money. Fundraising expenses can include campaign printing, publicity, mailing, and staffing and costs incurred in soliciting donations, memberships, and grants. Dividing a charity's average fundraising expenses by its average total functional expenses yields this percentage. We calculate the charity's average expenses over its three most recent fiscal years.


Source: IRS Form 990

Liabilities to Assets Ratio

6.3%


The Liabilities to Assets Ratio is determined by Total Liabilities divided by Total Assets (most recent 990).


Part of our goal in rating the financial performance of charities is to help donors assess the financial capacity and sustainability of a charity. As do organizations in other sectors, charities must be mindful of their management of total liabilites in relation to their total assets. This ratio is an indicator of an organization’s solvency and or long term sustainability. Dividing a charity's total liabilities by its total assets yields this percentage.


Source: IRS Form 990

Fundraising Efficiency

$0.14


The amount spent to raise $1 in charitable contributions. To calculate a charity's fundraising efficiency, we divide its average fundraising expenses by the average total contributions it receives. We calculate the charity's average expenses and average contributions over its three most recent fiscal years.


Source: IRS Form 990

Working Capital Ratio

1.28 years


Determines how long a charity could sustain its level of spending using its net available assets, or working capital, as reported on its most recently filed Form 990. We include in a charity's working capital unrestricted and temporarily restricted net assets, and exclude permanently restricted net assets. Dividing these net available assets in the most recent year by a charity's average total expenses, yields the working capital ratio. We calculate the charity's average total expenses over its three most recent fiscal years.


Source: IRS Form 990

Program Expense Growth

-2.70%


We compute the average annual growth of program expenses using the following formula: [(Yn/Y0)(1/n)]-1, where Y0 is a charity's program expenses in the first year of the interval analyzed, Yn is the charity's program expenses in the most recent year, and n is the interval of years passed between Y0 and Yn.


Source: IRS Form 990

Governance


Charity Navigator looks to confirm on the Form 990 that the organization has these governance practices in place.


Sources Include: IRS Form 990

Governance:
Independent Voting Board Members  ... (More)
No Material Diversion of Assets ... (More)

A diversion of assets – any unauthorized conversion or use of the organization's assets other than for the organization's authorized purposes, including but not limited to embezzlement or theft – can seriously call into question a charity's financial integrity. We check the charity's last two Forms 990 to see if the charity has reported any diversion of assets. If the charity does report a diversion, then we check to see if it complied with the Form 990 instructions by describing what happened and its corrective action. This metric will be assigned to one of the following categories:

  • Full Credit: There has been no diversion of assets within the last two years.

  • Partial Credit: There has been a diversion of assets within the last two years and the charity has used Schedule O on the Form 990 to explain: the nature of the diversion, the amount of money or property involved and the corrective action taken to address the matter. In this situation, we deduct 7 points from the charity's Accountability and Transparency score.
  • No Credit: There has been a diversion of assets within the last two years and the charity's explanation on Schedule O is either non-existent or not sufficient. In this case, we deduct 15 points from the charity's Accountability and Transparency score.
(Less)
Audited Financials Prepared by Independent Accountant ... (More)

Audited financial statements provide important information about financial accountability and accuracy. They should be prepared by an independent accountant with oversight from an audit committee. (It is not necessary that the audit committee be a separate committee. Often at smaller charities, it falls within the responsibilities of the finance committee or the executive committee.) The committee provides an important oversight layer between the management of the organization, which is responsible for the financial information reported, and the independent accountant, who reviews the financials and issues an opinion based on its findings. We check the charity's Form 990 reporting to see if it meets this criteria.

  • Full Credit: The charity's audited financials were prepared by an independent accountant with an audit oversight committee.

  • Partial Credit: The charity's audited financials were prepared by an independent accountant, but it did not have an audit oversight committee. In this case, we deduct 7 points from the charity's Accountability and Transparency score.
  • No Credit: The charity did not have its audited financials prepared by an independent accountant. In this case, we deduct 15 points from the charity's Accountability and Transparency score.
(Less)
Does Not Provide Loan(s) to or Receive Loan(s) From Related Parties ... (More)
Documents Board Meeting Minutes ... (More)
Distributes 990 to Board Before Filing ... (More)
Compensates Board ... (More)

Policies


Charity Navigator looks to confirm on the Form 990, or for some metrics on the charity's website, that the organization has these policies in place.


Sources Include: IRS Form 990 and organization's website

Policies:
Conflict of Interest  ... (More)
Whistleblower ... (More)
Records Retention and Destruction ... (More)
CEO Compensation Process ... (More)
Donor Privacy ... (More)

Donors can be reluctant to contribute to a charity when their name, address, or other basic information may become part of donor lists that are exchanged or sold, resulting in an influx of charitable solicitations from other organizations. Our analysts check the charity's website to see if the organization has a donor privacy policy in place and what it does and does not cover. Privacy policies are assigned to one of the following categories:

  • Yes: This charity has a written donor privacy policy published on its website, which states unambiguously that (1) it will not share or sell a donor's personal information with anyone else, nor send donor mailings on behalf of other organizations or (2) it will only share or sell personal information once the donor has given the charity specific permission to do so.

  • Opt-out: The charity has a written privacy policy published on its website which enables donors to tell the charity to remove their names and contact information from lists the charity shares or sells. How a donor can have themselves removed from a list differs from one charity to the next, but any and all opt-out policies require donors to take specific action to protect their privacy.
  • No: This charity either does not have a written donor privacy policy in place to protect their contributors' personal information, or the existing policy does not meet our criteria.

The privacy policy must be specific to donor information. A general website policy which references "visitor" or "user" personal information will not suffice. A policy that refers to donor information collected on the website is also not sufficient as the policy must be comprehensive and applicable to both online and offline donors. The existence of a privacy policy of any type does not prohibit the charity itself from contacting the donor for informational, educational, or solicitation purposes.

(Less)

Transparency


Charity Navigator looks to confirm on the Form 990, or for some metrics on the charity's website, that the organization makes this information easily accessible.


Sources Include: IRS Form 990 and organization's website

Transparency:
CEO Salary Listed on 990 ... (More)
Board of Directors Listed on Website ... (More)
Key Staff Listed on Website ... (More)
Audited Financial Statements on Website ... (More)
Form 990 Available on Website ... (More)

Additional Information

Unscored

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Total Revenue and Expenses

Total Revenue and Expenses

This chart displays the trend of revenue and expenses over the past several years for this organization, as reported on their IRS Form 990.

Salary of Key Persons

Presented here are this organizations key compensated staff members as identified by our analysts. This compensation data includes salary, cash bonuses and expense accounts and is displayed exactly how it is reported to the IRS. The amounts do not include nontaxable benefits, deferred compensation, or other amounts not reported on Form W-2. In some cases, these amounts may include compensation from related organizations. Read the IRS policies for compensation reporting



Jonathan T. Swain, President & CEO

$178,500 (7.09% of Total Expenses)


Current CEO and Board Chair can be found in the Leadership & Adaptability report below.

Source: IRS Form 990 (page 7), filing year 2021

Business Master File Data

Below are some key data points from the Exempt Organization IRS Business Master File (BMF) for this organization. Learn more about the BMF on the IRS website


Activities:

Scholarships (other) (BMF activity code: 040)

Other student aid (BMF activity code: 043)


Foundation Status:

Organization which receives a substantial part of its support from a governmental unit or the general public   170(b)(1)(A)(vi) (BMF foundation code: 15)


Affiliation:

Independent - the organization is an independent organization or an independent auxiliary (i.e., not affiliated with a National, Regional, or Geographic grouping of organizations). (BMF affiliation code: 3)

Data Sources: IRS Forms 990

The Form 990 is a document that nonprofit organizations file with the IRS annually. We leverage finance and accountability data from it to form Encompass ratings. Click here to view this organization's Forms 990 on the IRS website (if any are available).

Pandemic Response

Due to the unprecedented nature of the pandemic, we give charities such as this one the opportunity to share the story of COVID's impact on them. Charities may submit their own pandemic responses through their nonprofit portal.


LINK Unlimited Scholars reported being impacted by COVID-19 in the following ways:
  • Program Delivery

  • Fundraising Capacity

  • Revenue

  • Administrative Capacity


How COVID-19 impacted the organization's operations financially:

Initially, like many organizations, we had to cancel a large fundraising event in the late spring. We instituted a virtual campaign in its stead where we were able to raise some funds, but not as much as we would have expected with our usual celebration. We also experienced some diminished donor capacity as individuals redirected their giving to more immediate needs like food insecurity. Fortunately, we received a PPP loan that helped fill gaps at the time. Since those first few months, the pandemic has continued to limit our ability to hold in-person fundraising events (outside of our summer Golf Outing that returned in 2021) and donor stewardship opportunities. We also haven’t had any in-person volunteer opportunities which equates to fewer opportunities for potential donors to connect with Scholars and our mission.


How COVID-19 impacted the organization's delivery of programs:

The pandemic forced our program offerings to go virtual and we continue to deliver all cohort programming (including our six-week Summer Learning intensive), tutoring, and individual check-ins through Zoom. This included retooling our curriculum implementation for digital platforms for both our Scholars and Mentors. We also needed to fill a technology gap for many Scholars and we now provide laptops to all Scholars, and wifi hotspots to those who needed improved internet connectivity to engage both with LINK programming and their school’s academic work. Additionally, we built out our social-emotional learning and mental health supports both through individualized support from case managers as well as introducing social “kickbacks” where Scholars have the opportunity to engage with their peers and across cohorts in a non-academic setting. We also hosted a virtual “Scholar Awards Ceremony” to celebrate our graduating seniors and highlight the accomplishments of all our students.


How this organization adapted to changing conditions caused by COVID-19:

All aspects of LINK operations went virtual, including a fully remote workforce through summer 2021. We adopted new technologies like an internal communications platform that allowed employees to stay connected with others both around their work product and their social needs to engage with each other while isolated. Additionally, external events like Mentor trainings, board meetings, etc. all operated over Zoom. On mentorship specifically, we updated our guidelines for how Mentors engaged with their Scholars to keep everyone safe and still foster a bond especially between Mentors and Scholars who had not met in person prior to the pandemic. We gradually restarted some in-person activities for staff in summer 2021 which required updated health protocols for vaccinated employees to be in the building with each other and for limited opportunities for other partners to come into the building, e.g. our board retreat. In early 2022, we returned to a remote schedule with the Omicron surge.


Innovations the organization intends to continue permanently after the pandemic:

We anticipate continuing to offer some elements of our programming virtually to keep it accessible to our full Scholar population. Specifically, many of our students would need to take public transportation to our office, which can come with significant safety concerns. We also expect virtual offerings to be critical for our pilot middle school program, Junior LINK, which launched during the pandemic. Given the younger age of the students, we anticipate additional transportation challenges as they may not be able to travel to our office independently.


Historical Ratings

Date PublishedForm 990 FYEOverall ScoreOverall Rating
Rating Version: 2.1
8/1/20222021 82.33
3/1/20222020 80.16
5/1/20212019 78.23
12/23/20202019 76.88

This organization received multiple star ratings within this fiscal year, due to an update to its Accountability and Transparency data and/or the receipt of an amended Form 990.

8/1/20192018 80.94
7/1/20182017 83.38
10/1/20172016 83.93
6/1/20162015 86.76
Rating Version: 2.0
10/1/20152014 85.16
10/1/20142013 84.73

Previous: Finance & Accountability  / Next: Leadership & Adaptability

...   Impact & Results


This score estimates the actual impact a nonprofit has on the lives of those it serves, and determines whether it is making good use of donor resources to achieve that impact.


Impact & Results Score

Not Currently Scored

LINK Unlimited Scholars cannot currently be evaluated by our Encompass Rating Impact & Results methodology because either (A) it is eligible, but we have not yet received data; (B) we have not yet developed an algorithm to estimate its programmatic impact; (C) its programs are not direct services; or (D) it is not heavily reliant on contributions from individual donors.

Note: The absence of a score does not indicate a positive or negative assessment, it only indicates that we have not yet evaluated the organization.

Learn more about Impact & Results.

Do you work at LINK Unlimited Scholars? Join the waitlist for an updated Impact & Results score.


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Additional Information

Unscored

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Largest Programs

Largest Programs



LINK Unlimited Scholars reported its three largest programs on its FY 2021 Form 990 as:


$1,005,639

Spent in most recent FY

61%

Percent of program expenses


Academic Enrichment


$283,092

Spent in most recent FY

17%

Percent of program expenses


Leadership Development


$269,564

Spent in most recent FY

16%

Percent of program expenses


College Access


Previous: Impact & Results  / Next: Culture & Community

...   Leadership & Adaptability


This score provides an assessment of the organization's leadership capacity, strategic thinking and planning, and ability to innovate or respond to changes in constituent demand/need or other relevant social and economic conditions to achieve the organization's mission.


Leadership & Adaptability Score

100

out of 100

The score earned by LINK Unlimited Scholars is a passing score. This score has no effect on the organization's Star Rating.

Encompass Rating V4 provides an evaluation of the organization's Leadership & Adaptability through the nonprofit organization submitting a survey response directly to Charity Navigator.


Back to Overall

Leadership & Adaptability Report

100

of 100 points

Mission

The nonprofit organization presents evidence of strategic thinking through articulating the organization’s mission


The mission of LINK Unlimited Scholars is to connect high potential Black high school students with mentors, resources and foundational skills required for success as they advance into, through and beyond college.


Source: Nonprofit submitted responses

Vision

The nonprofit organization presents evidence of strategic thinking through articulating the organization’s vision.


Our vision is to actively equip LINK Scholars with the knowledge, skills, resources, and social equity to further college completion and career placement in order to increase the economic mobility and stability of Black students in Chicago and create a diverse leadership pipeline for our city.


Source: Nonprofit submitted responses

Strategic Goals

The nonprofit organization presents evidence of strategic thinking and goal setting through sharing their most important strategic goals.


Goal One: We are deepening an investment to the city of Chicago by targeting recruitment in 10 South and West Side neighborhoods that began in 2020.

Goal Type: Grow, expand, scale or increase access to the existing programs and services.


Goal Two: We are developing a middle school pipeline and targeting Chicago Public School students through the Junior LINK pilot middle school program.

Goal Type: Grow, expand, scale or increase access to the existing programs and services.


Goal Three: We are increasing our LINK Scholar population to more than 500 high school students by 2025-26, allowing us to reach and better equip more Black students in Chicago.

Goal Type: Grow, expand, scale or increase access to the existing programs and services.


Source: Nonprofit submitted responses

Leadership Development

The nonprofit provides evidence of investment in leadership development


Describe an investment in leadership

At LINK, we prioritize mental health for our Scholars, Mentors, and staff - especially in the wake of the COVID-10 pandemic. In summer 2021, our leadership team participated in a series of full day trainings about mental health through Thrive Chicago that was designed for organizations that provide mentoring services for youth. These sessions not only allowed our leadership team to examine the ways that they are impacted by working with youth who’ve experienced trauma, but they also taught the team how to support others in the organization.

Source: Nonprofit submitted responses

Mobilizing for Mission

The nonprofit provides evidence of leadership through focusing externally and mobilizing resources for the mission.


This organization mobilizes for mission in the following ways:
  • Strategic Partnerships

  • Networks of Collective Impact Efforts

  • Thought Leadership

  • Raising Awareness

  • Community Building

What are this organization’s external mobilizaton efforts?

Partnerships are a critical component of LINK’s success, including our partnership with UpMetrics which helps us use data and analytics to tell a more comprehensive story of our impact on Black students in Chicago. We also tell our story through social media and other public relations efforts to not only recruit donors and Mentors, but also to educate the broader community. Corporate engagement is another key piece of our external mobilization as we build connections with business/employee resource groups and help companies advance their diversity, equity, and inclusion goals. This includes job shadowing and internship opportunities for our Scholars.

Source: Nonprofit submitted responses

Story of Adaptability

The nonprofit has an opportunity to tell the story of how the organization adapted to tremendous external changes in the last year.


Our commitment to the four core components of our model, and the mentoring system that undergirds it, has remained the same despite external changes. It is only the vehicle of delivery that has changed as almost all programming has been virtual since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Initially this involved adapting our Scholar and Mentor-facing curricula to the remote environment and since then our team has made improvements as we receive feedback and as circumstances have changed. We have also adapted to decisions made by schools and education agencies like the decision to waive standardized testing. This has pushed us to reconsider what data points we are tracking and how we measure our students’ success. More robust and automated (where possible) data collection was already a goal as our program size increases but external circumstances have often highlighted the importance of improving these systems sooner rather than later. Adopting Salesforce has been one of the best improvements we have made to our infrastructure this year, both for our program and for our fundraising efforts.

Source: Nonprofit submitted responses

Additional Information

Unscored

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Organization Leadership

Organization Leadership


Jonathan T. Swain

President, CEO

Stephen C. Hackney

Chairman

Previous: Leadership & Adaptability

...   Culture & Community


This score provides an assessment of the organization's culture and connectedness to the community it serves. Learn more about how and why we rate Culture & Community.


Culture & Community Score

100

out of 100

LINK Unlimited Scholars has earned a passing score. This score has no effect on the organization's Star Rating. The organization provided data about how it listens to constituents (Constituent Feedback) and its Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI) practices (see report below).

The Culture & Community Beacon is comprised of the following metrics:

  • Constituent Feedback: 100/100 (30% of beacon score)

  • Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion: 100/100 (70% of beacon score)


Back to Overall

Culture & Community Report

100

of 100 points

This beta feature is currently viewable only on desktop or tablet screens. Check back later for updates.

Constituent Feedback

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

100/100 points

70% of beacon score


This organization's score of 100 is a passing score. The organization reported that it is implementing 11 diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) practices. Charity Navigator believes nonprofit organizations implementing effective DEI policies and practices can enhance a nonprofit's decision-making, staff motivation, innovation, and effectiveness.


View this organization's DEI Strategies


Methodology


We are utilizing data collected by Candid to document and assess the DEI practices implemented by the organization. Nonprofit organizations are encouraged to fill out the Equity Strategies section of their Candid profiles to receive a rating.


Learn more about the methodology.

Constituent Feedback

100/100 points

30% of beacon score


This organization reported that it is collecting feedback from the constituents and/or communities it serves. Charity Navigator believes nonprofit organizations that engage in inclusive practices, such as collecting feedback from the people and communities they serve, may be more effective.


View this organization's Constituent Feedback Practices




Methodology


We've partnered with Candid to survey organizations about their feedback practices. Nonprofit organizations can fill out the How We Listen section of their Candid profile to receive a rating.


Learn more about the methodology.

Analysis and Research


Like the overall Encompass Rating System, the Culture & Community Beacon is designed to evolve as metrics are developed and ready for integration. Below you can find more information about the metrics we currently evaluate in this beacon and their relevance to nonprofit performance.


Constituent Feedback


Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

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