The average cost of college tuition is $35,331 per student, and Black and African students owe an average of $25,000 of student loan debt. With the free community college proposal being taken out of the Build Back Better Act and borrowers awaiting some form of loan forgiveness, students can use all the help they can get.
Thankfully, with organizations like Hope Chicago, initiatives are happening to change young peoples lives. According to the Chicago Tribune, the Hope Chicago team, led by former CPS CEO Janice Jackson and co-founders and co-chairmen Pete Kadens and Ted Koenig, announced that a “citywide, multigeneration scholarship program that covers tuition, room and board, books, fees and surcharges for CPS students and one of their parents or guardian.”
The organization visited five high schools — including Benito Juarez High School, Al Raby High School, Morgan Park High School, and Noble-Johnson College Prep to share the news. Four thousand students would benefit from these initiatives.
Tonya Hammaker, principal of Farragut Career Academy high school, the fifth school that would benefit from this scholarship, thinks her students will see this as life-changing:
“I am a first-generation college student and when I started college, I didn’t really have anyone to ask when things went wrong, or I was stressed, or I didn’t know what to do,” Hammaker said. “I think this is not going to be the case for my students because they are going to have the support from Hope Chicago and from Farragut in making their dreams a reality.”
Kadens and other donors plan to invest $1 billion into Hope Chicago, according to their website. $40 million has been raised with funding partners, including several corporations, financial institutions, and private family foundations. The organization equity-based census data, college enrollment, completion data, and other factors help identify neighborhoods and schools that need a boost.
Additionally, Hope Chicago outlined some details in how students can use the scholarship:
Hope Scholars can use their fully funded scholarships at one of Hope Chicago’s 20 partner colleges, universities or other educational programs across Illinois including four-year colleges, the two-year City Colleges of Chicago and some private colleges as well as trade and professional schools.
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Illinois State University are among the partner schools. Hope Chicago had not yet revealed the names of other partners.
Enrolled students will also get a laptop and a small annual stipend to cover other necessities.