A close head shot of a middle-aged man with short blond hair smiling in front of a large building, wearing a black blazer and a white and blue striped dress shirt.

Jeff Nelson

Job Title
Co-Founder & CEO
One Goal
Corps Year: 
Corps Region: 
Chicago–Northwest Indiana
Alumni Region: 
Chicago–Northwest Indiana
Peter Jennings Award

Jeff is Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of OneGoal, an innovative, three-year college persistence program that identifies, trains and supports our nation’s most effective teachers to lead underperforming high school students to reach their full potential and graduate from college.

At the beginning of his tenure with OneGoal, Jeff developed the organization’s first five-year strategic plan, restructured the program model, and expanded the funding base 15 times over. In addition, author Paul Tough includes a substantial profile of Jeff and OneGoal in his recent bestseller, How Children Succeed:  Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character.

Jeff began his career as a Teach For America corps member at O’Keeffe Elementary in Chicago. During his tenure at O’Keeffe, Jeff led his sixth graders to an average of two years’ growth in math. He also co-founded the school’s student council, raised money to send the council on a five-day trip to Washington D.C. to meet then-U.S. Senator Barack Obama, and coached the football team to a city championship.

After completing his two-year commitment, Jeff served as a Teach For America Corps Member Advisor at the Philadelphia Training Institute and was awarded the 2006 Sue Lehmann Award for Excellence in Teaching for the Chicago Region. Jeff is also the recipient of Teach For America’s Distinguished Alumni Award, the Community Renewal Society’s 35 under 35 Award, Crain's 40 under 40 award, and the Bluhm/Helfand Social Innovation Fellowship. Jeff graduated from the University of Michigan with Phi Beta Kappa honors, earned his MA in teaching from Dominican University, and received his MBA from the University of Chicago.