It was recently reported more than 1 million fewer students are enrolled in college now than before the pandemic began. This was attributed to not only mental health factors, but financial challenges as well.
The administrators at Chicago-based Benito Juarez Community Academy High School and Al Raby High School are aiming to shift this narrative. Last week, 4,000 students from both schools received a surprise visit from Hope Chicago and were told that they and their parents are receiving full, debt-free college scholarships to partner colleges and universities.
Hope Chicago, a scholarship program launched in 2021 that aims to employ a transformative multi-generation scholarship model that seeks to redefine the education landscape in Chicago. Former Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Dr. Janice Jackson currently leads Hope Chicago and hopes to raise $1 billion in scholarships and other support over the next decade for Chicago students and their parents to attend college or trade school, effectively creating pathways to economic success for multiple generations of Chicagoans.
“As a life-long educator, I understand the barriers that college students face as they enter the higher education system, said Janice Jackson, CEO of Hope Chicago in a news release. “Many of those – financial, social, psychological and emotional – have been further exaggerated by the COVID-19 pandemic hindering student success. 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.”
According to a news release, Hope Scholars can use their fully funded scholarships at one of Hope Chicago’s 20 partner colleges, universities, or other educational programs across the state of Illinois. Hope Chicago covers tuition and wraparound services and support, including non-tuition costs like books, food, and housing as well as mentoring and counseling starting in high school. Hope Chicago scholarships are not for high school students only – they’re for their parents or guardians, as well, a first-of-its-kind multigenerational approach intended to help lift entire families out of poverty.