CHICAGO (WLS) -- Former Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson is taking on a different kind of educational role as CEO of HOPE Chicago, a scholarship model created to serve Chicago students.
Jackson announced her involvement in the program Wednesday morning.
HOPE Chicago is committed to raise, invest and deploy $1 billion in college scholarships and support funding over the next decade, effectively creating pathways to economic success for multiple generations of Chicagoans, the organization said.
"As a life-long educator, I understand the barriers that college students face as they enter the higher education system. Many of those - financial, social, psychological and emotional have been further exaggerated by the COVID-19 pandemic hindering student success," Jackson said. "HOPE Chicago has a bold vision and an ambitious goal. However, through a generous initial investment, our operating and administrative costs are covered for the next three years meaning we can ensure every penny raised will go directly towards educating underserved Chicago families. With the help of the community, civic and business leaders, we have the opportunity to redefine the education landscape in our city."
More CPS students are graduating from high school than ever before, and 90% of surveyed CPS ninth graders aspire to go to college, the organization said. However, significant barriers exist between these students' dreams and earning a diploma; just 63% of CPS students enroll in college and only 27% earn a degree, according to a HOPE Chicago survey.
Through a holistic approach to supporting students and parents in every aspect of their education journey, HOPE Chicago aims to increase the district's college completion rate. HOPE Chicago scholarships will cover the full cost of attendance at participating two-and four-year non-profit higher education institutions. Students may also pursue post-secondary industry certification programs.
With the goal to raise $1 billion over ten years to cover both tuition and non-tuition expenses, HOPE Chicago can provide scholarships for approximately 24,000 first-year college students and aid more than 6,000 parents and guardians, the organization said.
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The group also plans to provide counseling, mentoring and career guidance.
In the 2021-2022 school year, HOPE Chicago will focus on raising its first $100 million and identifying priority schools and communities most in need.
Through investments totaling more than $20 million by The Kadens Family Foundation and HOPE Chicago Co-Founder, Ted Koenig, HOPE Chicago's operational and administrative costs are fully funded for the next three years so that every dollar raised will go directly to the scholarship fund and back to students, the organization said.
The first cohort of Hope Chicago Scholars will be selected in late spring 2022 and begin their postsecondary education in the fall of 2022.