More than 500 students showed up to Farragut Career Academy Friday and received the surprise of a lifetime: They — and a parent — would be getting full rides to college.
The school was the fifth targeted by Hope Chicago, a new program headed by former CPS CEO Janice Jackson, for full scholarships to some 20 Illinois schools and colleges.
“If you are a freshman, sophomore, junior or senior, your college tuition, your room and board, your books and fees will be paid for. You are going to college for free!” Hope Chicago co-founder Pete Kadens announced at a ceremony at the Little Village school, as students cheered.
The first students to learn they were a part of the scholarship pledge this week were at Benito Juarez HS in Pilsen. The other three schools include Al Raby HS in Garfield Park and Morgan Park HS and Noble Johnson College Prep in Englewood.
The 4,000 students at those schools are eligible to receive a “debt-free post-secondary education” under the program, which also applies to undocumented students and one parent from each student’s families.
Hope Chicago is not yet revealing the 20 partner colleges and programs, but they include the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Illinois State University. Students who choose not to attend one of the partner colleges and programs will get a yearly stipend of $1,000 for extraneous expenses.
“As a life-long educator, I understand the barriers that college students face as they enter the higher education system,” Jackson said in a press release. “Many of those — financial, social, psychological and emotional — have been further exaggerated by the COVID-19 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.”
Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Gov. JB Pritzker also attended the announcement Friday.
In total, Hope Chicago officials said they were raising $1 billion to target some 24,000 students and 6,000 parents for scholarships and support over the next decade.