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Over 4,000 students from five Chicago high schools will receive full scholarships thanks to Hope Chicago, a nonprofit that funds college scholarships for Chicago Public Schools students. According to officials, a parent or guardian of each student is also eligible for a scholarship.
The scholarship covers all tuition, room and board, books and fees for any one of 20 partnering colleges and universities in Illinois. The list includes four-year state public colleges, two-year City Colleges of Chicago, several private colleges, and trade schools. All for the free!
A wealthy businessman, Peter Kadens says he benefitted from privilege growing up as a White man with means and access to opportunities simply because of the color of his skin. “This country was built on the notion that no matter where you come from, you can become successful and wealthy — that just factually is not true,” Kadens said.
Over the next decade, Kadens and other donors plan to invest $1 billion into Hope Chicago. In 2020, Kadens launched a pilot program at Scott High School in his hometown of Toledo. Students there were given the same scholarship opportunity to attend college for free. That program claims it’s been able to issue funding for more than 150 students since its initial launch.
“As a life-long educator, I understand the barriers that college students face as they enter the higher education system,” Dr. Janice Jackson, CEO of Hope Chicago and former CEO of Chicago Public Schools, said in a statement. “Hope Chicago has a bold vision and an ambitious goal. With the help of the community, civic and business leaders, we have the opportunity to redefine the education landscape in our city.” Jackson called their initiative a “game-changer” that could be a model for other cities across the U.S.