The Crusader Newspaper Group

Hope Chicago surprises 4,000 students with full, debt-free college scholarships

On February 22, 2022, the entire student bodies at Benito Juarez Community Academy High School and Al Raby High School (1,800 students in total) 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.

Those two school announcements were just the beginning of a momentous week of surprise scholarship announcements from Hope Chicago for the entire student body at five Chicago public high schools across the city. On Wednesday, Feb. 23, Morgan Park High School, located 1744 W. Pryor Ave., learned it has been selected to receive multi-generational scholarships as well.

After Crusader press time, Hope Chicago planned to visit two yet-to-be-disclosed Chicago public high schools on the South, Southwest, or West Sides and surprise more unsuspecting student bodies and their parents with the same debt-free college scholarships the remainder of the week.

In total this week, Hope Chicago will award 4,000 students in 9th-12th grade and their parents (or guardians) the opportunity for debt-free post-secondary education, a chance to change the economic trajectory of their lives that they may have dreamed of but assumed would be financially out of reach.

Established in September 2021, Hope Chicago is a unique new scholarship program whose mission is to employ a transformative multi-generation scholarship model that seeks to redefine the education landscape in Chicago. Led by former Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Dr. Janice Jackson, Hope Chicago will raise and invest $1 billion in scholarships and other support over the next decade for Chicago students and their parents to attend four or two-year college, some private colleges, as well as trade and professional schools, effectively creating pathways to economic success for multiple generations of Chicagoans.

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, non-tuition costs like books, food, and housing as well as mentoring and counseling starting in high school. In case of an emergency or unexpected barriers, scholars can apply for additional funds to help them stay on track.

Students will receive wraparound support at in-network institutions, including but not limited, to academic and financial advising, career exploration assistance, mentoring, tutoring, workshops, and a consistent number of touchpoints from designated support staff associated with the Hope Chicago program at each campus.

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. One parent/guardian from a student’s family qualifies to participate in the Hope Chicago program.

As of February 2022, Hope Chicago has raised approximately $40 million. Funding partners include several corporations, financial institutions and private family foundations, and a public list of partners will be made available soon at With the help of two generous donations, Hope Chicago’s administrative and operational costs are fully funded for the next three years meaning every dollar raised will go directly to students.

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