Before moving on to college and career this fall, the Class of 2016 set a high bar for future CPS students. Together, these graduates received $1.1 billion in scholarship offers, which is an increase of over 20 percent – or $200 million – from the previous school year.  

$1.1 billion is a big number, so let’s break it down. Let’s look at how a fraction of these funds will forever change the story of three CPS graduates.

“It’s always been my dream to fly.”

-Michael Hogue, cps Class of 2016, on his greatest aspiration.

Ever since taking his first plane ride at age 8, flying has been Michael’s passion. Ten years later, the 2016 valedictorian from Bowen High School is definitely soaring.

Thanks to the Tuskegee Next Airman Scholarship, Michael was able to enroll in a rigorous summer program at the Illinois Aviation Academy immediately after graduation. He flew every day for two months, earning his private pilot’s license before leaving for Bates College in Maine, where he is now a freshman.

Michael is attending Bates with help from the William J. Cook Scholarship. He credits Ms. Norman and Mr. Robinson, his college counselors at Bowen, for telling him about this and other scholarships and for staying on him until his applications were complete.

Lindblom 2016 grads

Class of 2016 Lindblom Math & Science Academy

“They’re extraordinary. Guidance doesn’t begin to cover it.”

-Joe’Shawn Head, CPS Class of 2016, on the guidance counselors at Lindblom Math & Science Academy. 

Thanks to the support of his college counselors, Joe’Shawn earned 13 substantial scholarships during his senior year at Lindblom, including a $20,000 award from Footlocker and the coveted Gates Millennium Scholarship. Now a freshman at the University of Virginia, he will continue the Arabic studies he began at Lindblom in the hopes of one day working for the U.S. State Department or U.N.

Joe’Shawn began hearing about Gates his freshman year of high school. That’s when the staff at Lindblom starts encouraging all students – even those whose GPAs need improving – to work toward that loftiest of goals. Thanks to this early focus on student success, Joe’Shawn was one of 5 Lindblom students to receive a Gates Scholarship in 2016.

“It’s life-changing. After it happened, I just kept walking around my neighborhood thinking, I can’t believe I’m going to college.”

-DaShawn Adams, CPS Class of 2016, on his reaction to receiving a full scholarship to college.

The youngest of four brothers, DaShawn was raised by his mother in Chicago’s Austin Neighborhood and is the first in his family to go to college.

Before leaving for Trinity College in Connecticut, DaShawn had never been outside the city of Chicago. His whole life, he’d thought of college as an appealing but unattainable dream, equating it to a Kindergartener saying that he wants to be an astronaut when he grows up. An exciting aspiration with no plan on how to get there.

That started to change when his school counselor, and a respected mentor from the You Can Project, showed DaShawn all the scholarships that were out there. They helped him with his applications, proofread his essays, and shared in his joy when he was awarded the POSSE, Gates, and numerous other scholarships in the spring of 2016.

Michael, Joe’Shawn and DaShawn are just three examples of success from the Class of 2016 – our city’s next generation of thinkers, leaders and innovators.

Curie gradsTheir ambition is dependent on a college education, which would be out of reach for many CPS students without support from scholarships. That’s why CPS has invested in Academic Works, an online program that helps match high school students with the scholarships that best fit their needs and abilities, and Naviance, a web tool that assists with college planning. It’s why we continue to provide quality training for our school counselors and college coaches – the people who open the doors of opportunity, then make sure CPS students walk through them.

This year’s scholarship data is up more than 20 percent from the 2014-2015 School Year, and is a testament to the expertise, dedication, and tenacity of our staff. It also reflects the hard work of our students, who are learning that college is NOT, as DaShawn once thought, an unattainable dream. That we expect it to be a part of their futures, and that CPS is committed to supporting them along the way.

Read more about our great scholarship news here.