Joseph Pedott, 1932-2023
Before becoming our most generous donor, Joe was first a client of SGA. Born in Chicago in 1932, Joe had a difficult childhood. He moved out on his own as a teenager and lived at a local YMCA. He worked 30-40 hours weekly to support himself while attending school full-time. At age 17, he began working with a social worker from SGA. The agency saw that he was struggling financially and gave him $100 monthly to help with rent and living costs.
In a 2021 interview with an SGA staff member, Joe discussed his life as a high school senior living in a YMCA room: "It was a case of surviving and getting by. I didn't even consider myself poor; I just did what I had to do to survive. A big meal for me at that time and a treat would be a Vienna hot dog with French fries for 15 cents. I was making 65 cents per hour working."
With SGA's assistance, Joe graduated from the University of Illinois and later founded his own advertising company. At just 26 years old, he began supporting SGA with yearly gifts and stayed committed to giving back to the agency that had helped him so much when he was younger.
Joe helped SGA create the college readiness and retention program, Higher Sights, and established a fund for its operation. Mentors are paired with high-performing juniors and seniors and assist them with college and scholarship applications. The program follows the students through high school and college to ensure they have all the support they need to graduate.
Joe's commitment to education and his legacy will persist through the continuation of the Higher Sights College Readiness Program. SGA is proud to have played a role in his success story, and we are so grateful for Joe's support and advocacy over the years. Joe Pedott - his perseverance, his ingenuity, and his generosity - will be remembered fondly.
We'd like to share some of the kind tributes made in his honor.
View the Today segment featuring Joseph Pedott below: