Imagine being a high school student who dreams of maybe attending college one day. It’s an expensive dream that’s out of reach for many families. Now, thanks to the generous gift of one nonprofit organization, thousands of students can make their academic and career dreams a reality.
On Feb. 22, students at Chicago’s Benito Juarez Community Academy attended a special assembly where they got some amazing news.
“Your college tuition, your room and board, books and fees will be paid for and you will go to college for free,” said Pete Kadens, the founder and co-chair of Hope Chicago, according to a report from ABC7 Chicago.
The high school’s Facebook page shared video shot by a member of their community who was at the event:
“Today I want to thank God and all these people of Hope Chicago for giving us a miracle for our children so they can achieve their dreams,” the post caption read in Spanish. “God bless you all.”
The scholarship is good for any of the 20 in-state partnering schools that work with Chicago Hope, including four-year colleges, two-year city colleges of Chicago, trade schools and private institutions, according to Block Club Chicago.
Students and parents who gathered for the assembly believed they were there to talk about the planning process for upcoming senior activities. So, the news came as an emotional shock to everyone.
Kimberly Lopez, one of the students in attendance, told the Chicago Sun Times she wants to be an engineer. But, with five siblings at home, the financial burden was an obstacle, especially for her mother.
“But now the burden has been lifted,” Lopez told the newspaper. “Now I think I can do this.”
Hope Chicago wasn’t done spreading the good news to local students, though.
Later that day, Hope Chicago stopped at Al Raby School for Community & Environment with the same surprise and celebration. A photo captured the moment shortly after the big announcement, and the school shared it on social media.
But Hope Chicago still wasn’t done with the surprises.
The next stop on the scholarship tour hit Morgan Park, on Feb. 23.
“We’re full, but not finished,” the organization tweeted Wednesday morning and attached a video of the announcement, which got loud cheers and a standing ovation.
We're full, but not finished. We have more great news to come and more to share with our future Hope Scholars. https://t.co/mdvqNFsQrt
— Hope Chicago (@HopeChicagoEdu) February 23, 2022
More schools are slated for surprise announcements from Hope Chicago in the coming days, according to officials.
“As a life-long educator, I understand the barriers that college students face as they enter the higher education system,” said Janice Jackson, CEO of Hope Chicago and former CEO of Chicago Public Schools, in a statement shared by Block Club Chicago. “Hope 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.”