The whole pupil physique of 5 public excessive colleges in Chicago will study that they’re getting a full scholarship to one among 20 schools — and one among their mother and father may also get a scholarship.
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College students at 5 Chicago excessive colleges do not have to fret about how they are going to pay for school. They’re a part of a unprecedented program. And Sarah Karp, of member station WBEZ, was there right this moment when college students at one of many colleges came upon about it.
SARAH KARP, BYLINE: A DJ kicked off the meeting whereas mother and father and college students with pompoms of their arms questioned what was occurring. The auditorium at Juarez Excessive Faculty on Chicago’s southwest facet was packed. Quickly sufficient, entrepreneur Pete Kadens took the stage.
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PETE KADENS: I ask that you just give me your undivided consideration only for 30 seconds right here whereas I convey a extremely necessary message – as a result of, like I mentioned, nobody walks out of this room the identical right this moment.
KARP: Kadens then advised them that they are all getting school scholarships. That is tuition, room and board, books and charges. They will select from 20 schools. And never solely that, however one among their mother and father can also get a scholarship to go to school or to a job coaching program.
Whereas full rides have been awarded earlier than, this can be a massive deal. Each pupil, from freshmen to seniors in 5 Chicago excessive colleges – 4,000 altogether – are getting the information this week that they are going to have scholarships ready for them. It is being paid for by Hope Chicago, a bunch began by Kadens and different philanthropists.
When the announcement was made at Juarez, the auditorium of principally low-income, principally immigrant mothers and dads erupted.
KARP: Tears began streaming from Kimberly Lopez’s eyes, and her good friend hugged her.
KIMBERLY LOPEZ: I could not assist however simply, like, cry and take into consideration, like, all the restrictions. And that was, like, the one factor that was limiting me to my school training was, like, the monetary. And it was simply, like – it could have been such a tough factor.
KARP: Lopez’s 4 brothers and sisters and her mom and father work as laborers. Earlier than this announcement, her plan was to attempt to piece collectively scholarships and work to cowl bills.
Principal Juan Carlos Ocon interrupted the meeting to inform mother and father that this was additionally for undocumented immigrants. And once more, a burst of applause. Ocon says he is seen the hope drain out of the face of scholars once they understand they can not get any monetary assist.
JUAN CARLOS OCON: It leaves me speechless in so some ways. I feel that when our undocumented college students realized that their dream of going to school might be fulfilled as a result of that impediment, that barrier is not current, the sky is the restrict for these college students.
KARP: Michelle Miller-Adams is with the Upjohn Institute for Employment Analysis. She says the scope of what’s being provided is exceptional. She’s studied packages that provide college students a positive approach to pay tuition, typically referred to as promise packages. However she says few pay for all the pieces.
MICHELLE MILLER-ADAMS: And the wonderful factor is it really works for a lot, a lot much less beneficiant packages. So if the message round affordability is straightforward sufficient and it may be delivered constantly all through Ok-12, it modifications what college students do once they end highschool.
KARP: Miller-Adams additionally would not know of a program providing mother and father a free trip. Brenda Munoz is a stay-at-home mother who was planning to return to work. She says this can fully change her trajectory.
BRENDA MUNOZ: So all my test was going on to her college as a result of, like I advised her, we’re a group.
KARP: Now she has a brand new plan.
MUNOZ: I’ll college. I’m going to high school. There is no such thing as a staying house, you recognize? In the event that they’re giving the mother or father a chance, too, hey, why not take it, you recognize? Let’s dream massive.
KARP: These offering these scholarships assist giving mother and father and their youngsters a free school training will go a good distance towards lifting up total communities.
For NPR Information, I am Sarah Karp in Chicago.
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