Five years ago, Devan McDaye received the opportunity of a lifetime.
Upon graduating from Dunbar Vocational Career Academy, she was awarded a full college scholarship from the Chicago Public Schools/United Negro College Fund (UNCF) Scholarship Campaign.
“The scholarship helped me go to college without me or my mom having to worry about paying out of pocket,” said McDaye, who graduated last year from Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Florida and is currently pursuing her master’s degree in counseling psychology. Her goal is to become a counselor for CPS.
“I think it’s important to give back and never forget where you came from,” she said. “When I was at Galileo Scholastic Academy, I had a counselor who inspired me to go into this work.”
But McDaye’s journey isn’t the only success story in the district.
Since 1970, CPS has partnered with UNCF to help academically talented students with demonstrated financial need attend a participating Historically Black College or University (HBCU). To date, the annual scholarship campaign has awarded $15 million to more than 350 students, making CPS the largest public school district and single-workplace contribution effort in the nation for UNCF.
“The scholarship was a blessing. It was a great help at that time,” said Melissa Yancy-Venson, who graduated from Fenger High School in 1991. “If I did not have that scholarship, I don’t know where I would be right now.”
Yancy-Venson graduated from Xavier University of Louisiana in 1995 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a concentration in finance.
She went on to earn her MBA from University of Phoenix in 2005 and is currently a loan analyst for the federal department of education in Chicago.
“UNCF was the angel investor in my life,” said Rashaun Williams, who received a scholarship in 1997 after graduating from Hyde Park Academy High School. “It afforded me the opportunity to leave my neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago, graduate from Morehouse College [in Atlanta], work on Wall Street for Goldman Sachs and now run my own investment bank and venture capital fund.” ”
The UNCF Campaign is funded by CPS employees as well as others interested in supporting CPS students. All dollars go directly to scholarships that allow these students to pursue their dream of a college education. The fundraising goal for this year’s campaign is $500,000 by March 31.
“A donation to UNCF is putting an opportunity in the hands of those who have overcome the most and need it the most,” said Williams. “It bridges the financial gap in the Black community and provides equal opportunity for higher education.”
To donate, or for more information about the CPS/UNCF scholarship campaign, visit cps.edu/uncf