Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel visits city, marks 10-year anniversary of CPS college scholarship

Leah Hope Image
Wednesday, January 10, 2024
Rahm Emanuel visits city, celebrates CPS college scholarship program
Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has returned to the city and marked 10 years since announcing the City Colleges Star Scholarship for CPS students.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Beginning his third year as Ambassador to Japan, former Mayor Rahm Emanuel has returned to visit Chicago.

"To me, I come back and this feels like home," Emanuel said.

The Ambassador's visit back coincides with the 10th anniversary of announcing the Star Scholarship as mayor. It provides a free college education at City Colleges for Chicago high school students with a B grade average or above.

By year's end, Emanuel expects 18,000 students to have received the scholarship. Most of them are the first in their families to go to college.

"Now graduating debt free they can start their lives they can own a home not have to pay for the past but invest for the future," Emanuel said.

Most people locally will recall that Emanuel was Chicago's 55th mayor.

He has been watching from a distance as the city deal with the challenges of welcoming new arrival migrants.

"We are being stressed, but don't lose who we are," Emanuel said.

Emanuel said the city was a welcoming place for his grandparents and will continue to be welcoming but the bigger issue of immigration needs to be addressed by the federal government.

"We are also a city that handles big things we are up to the challenge, but we are going to need federal help we are going to need the state and the city and everybody to get on the same page with a single strategy," Emanuel said.

He was the first Jewish Chicago mayor. His family home in Michigan recently had the word Nazi spray painted on a fence.

While it is still unknown who did it, he says he was moved by the support of his neighbors and especially the Islamic community.

I have my own personal anger about antisemitism I've experienced first hand," Emanuel said. "I don't have to read about it, and I've also experienced goodness of people."

While in Toyko, the Ambassador also learned of the apparent October hate crime stabbing against 6-year-old Wadee Alfayoumi in unincorporated Plainfield.

Emanuel said has no connection to the family, but reached out after the boy was stabbed 26 times.

"I said both as a father and a member of the Chicago community, you are in a community that loves and respects you and your family," Emanuel said. "I just said, 'I want you to know you are not alone in this dark moment.'"

During his time in Japan, Emanuel said he has been impressed by impact on their society as a whole with such strong personal integrity.

"There is a lot we can learn about personal value placed on personal honor you commitment to others your sense of being part of a community," Emanuel said.

Emanuel will serve one more year as ambassador and will return to Chicago. He said he has not decided what he will do next, but he did not rule out another run for elected office.