A new scholarship fund aims to offer scholarships to seniors graduating from Chicago Public Schools next spring. The fund also intends to give scholarship money to parents of CPS students, making it a multi-generational pathway to further education.
The plan for the new fund, Hope Chicago, is to raise and pay out $1 billion over 10 years to students and families. The aim is for Chicago students to graduate from college debt-free. So far, $20 million has been raised by the group’s founders, who hope to raise $100 million by the spring of 2022.
Hope Chicago is a nonprofit organization that seeks to reduce economic and social inequity by funding post-secondary scholarships and non-tuition costs for CPS graduates and adult family members who want to return to school to update their skills. The group, run by former CPS CEO Janice Jackson, will start by choosing schools and communities with students who are most in need of financial help. While 63 percent of CPS graduates enroll in college, only 27 percent end up earning a degree, often because of financial difficulties.
Scholarships will be available to colleges and programs with which Hope Chicago has reached a “memorandum of understanding.” Those schools are still being identified, and they include both two-year and four-year schools. So far, those schools include community colleges in the city of Chicago and schools in the University of Illinois system. More colleges will be added as the year goes on.
In addition to tuition, Hope Chicago intends to offer financial support for non-tuition costs, such as housing, food, health care, and emergencies. It also will offer career guidance and provide mentoring to students searching for an education pathway. Scholarships will be renewed and adjusted each year to account for changing financial circumstances. The scholarships are good for six years.
CPS students from the selected schools and neighborhoods will have a chance to apply for the scholarships later this fall. Eligibility is not dependent on GPA or test scores. Hope Chicago aims to identify its first group of Hope Chicago Scholars by next spring.
Both students and parents will be eligible to attend not only a two- or four-year college, but also gain technical degrees in industry training or certification programs as their post-secondary option.
You can learn more about Hope Chicago at the group’s website.