Seventy-five high school seniors from 14 high schools in suburban Cook County and Kankakee County received scholarships on Wednesday as a result of successful joint fundraising efforts by a group of suburban school district superintendents and the United Negro College Fund.
In March, the Superintendents’ Commission for the Study of Demographics and Diversity (SCSDD) joined forces with the United Negro College Fund to raise money for students in their communities. The “Investing in Our Future” Scholarship Gala was held at the Tinley Park Convention Center and was sold out. The fundraising effort garnered more than $210,000—more than double the original goal of $100,000.
“Our collaboration with the United Negro College Fund means more money for more students,” said Dr. Sandra Thomas, vice president of the commission and chair of the scholarship committee. “That means more support for our students to fulfill their dreams.”
The commission gives scholarships to high school seniors from their member schools at the commission’s annual scholarship award dinner. In 20 years, the commission has awarded more than $350,000 in scholarships. But because of this year’s joint effort it is able to give twice as many scholarships.
More than 200 students applied for the Dr. Ron Edmonds Scholarship Award, according to the commission. The late Edmonds was an American educator, author and pioneer of effective school research in urban communities. He believed in the philosophy that all children can learn. The scholarship is for students of color or students who are economically challenged who are seeking a career or post-secondary education.
“We have nearly tripled the amount of scholarship dollars available to our deserving scholars,” said Dr. Johnnie Thomas, superintendent of Rich Township High School District 227 and president of the Superintendents’ Commission. “This unprecedented generosity will have a significant impact on the educational opportunities for many students in the south suburbs.”
Fourteen students from Southland College Prep Charter High School in Richton Park received awards this year, more than double the number of students who usually receive the Edmonds scholarship any given year.
“The power of our individual districts coming together shows us what is possible,” said Dr. Blondean Y. Davis, Southland’s CEO and superintendent of Matteson School District 162. “We’re committed to making sure that our children not only get into college, but they have the financial means to stay in college.”
Hailey Love, 18, a Southland senior from Matteson who has been accepted into five Ivy League colleges, said as a first generation, low-income college student, the scholarship will help her pursue her passion and dreams in college.
“It is really meaningful to have a contribution from my community not just for myself but for my classmates,” Love said. “I can already anticipate that it will make an amazing impact in my college progression.”