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Mayor Emanuel Joins Robert Morris University Illinois and Chicago Public Schools to Announce African American Student Scholarship and Partnership with Wells High School

31 October 2017

The New ERA Scholarship will launch 300 students to college and career success over the next six years

CPS Office of Communications

Phone: 773-553-1620
Twitter: @chipubschools
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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

CHICAGO - Mayor Emanuel today joined Robert Morris University Illinois (RMU) and Chicago Public Schools to announce a unique partnership and significant scholarship opportunities for graduating seniors. The New ERA Scholarship offered through RMU will engage 300 students in college and career opportunities over the next six years. RMU will also partner with Wells High School to offer dual credit courses and college readiness experiences to high school students.

“The commitment RMU has shown to Chicago students is yet another example of how we can work together to invest in Chicago’s future and provide students with the resources necessary for a brighter future,” said Mayor Emanuel. “By making the right investments to put our children’s futures first, we can help more of them reach the graduation stage and to reach their potential.”

The New ERA Scholarship will be jointly funded by RMU and private philanthropists, jumpstarted by a donation from the Alter family. The vision for the New ERA Scholarship is to transform lives and Chicago communities by helping to ensure graduation and employment opportunities for 300 low-income African American students from the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) over the next six years.

“CPS students continue to demonstrate that they are among the most talented and committed students in the country, and it’s our job to help ensure they have the support they need to pursue their dreams,” said CPS CEO Forrest Claypool. “This unique partnership will help make college a reality for many of Chicago’s students, who continue to demonstrate they are ready for the challenges of tomorrow.”

“So many of our students have the intelligence, ambition and character needed to make college success a reality, but they just need financial support to get there,” said CPS Chief Education Officer Dr. Janice K. Jackson. “This initiative will provide so many of our kids with the final boost they need to make it to college and fulfill their great promise.”

The announcement of this scholarship coincides with a new partnership formed between RMU and Wells High School. Located at 936 N. Ashland, Wells is the second CPS school to take part in a partnership program with Robert Morris. Initiated by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the program provides college credit and higher education experiences for high school students through dual credit courses, as well as hands-on college readiness experiences, campus visits, seminars and mentorship programs with RMU. The university expects to start the program with Wells in 2018. Steinmetz High School on the city’s northwest side is in the second year of its partnership with RMU.

The presence of RMU at Wells also provides students with greater awareness of the New ERA Scholarship and the RMU commitment to educating students for promising careers.

“Good jobs change lives. The New ERA Scholarship allows RMU to create real impact in Chicago by educating students and putting them on a path for employment success,” said Mablene Krueger, President of Robert Morris University. “We are honored and humbled through this initial gift from the Alter family to dramatically increase the impact of RMU through additional donations in the near future.”

Robert Morris University has a long-standing record of bridging the gap between academia and the workplace with a structured, career-centric education and curriculum. Seventy-eight percent of RMU students pursuing a bachelor’s degree graduate, and ninety percent of those students complete their degree in less than four years. In total, 75% of RMU students are employed at graduation. Today, RMU graduates nearly twice the national average of low-income students based on PELL eligibility—61% versus 32%.

With the Alter family’s $1.2 million gift, 40 students are already funded for the first New ERA cohort spanning four years from 2018 to 2022. With the additional support of private donors, the newly-created scholarship hopes to support 100 students annually. Each student will receive $5,000 annually to cover the remaining “gap” after RMU’s grant of $7,100, the MAP and Pell Grants, and the Federal Stafford loan. This will enable financially under-resourced students to graduate and enter the workforce, without being encumbered by severe debt.

“This investment has the potential to dramatically change lives and communities in Chicago,” said Michael Alter. “RMU has consistently demonstrated that it can successfully educate and graduate low-income, first-generation students of color and place them on a successful career path through their innovative program of workplace experience and corporate partnerships. For $5,000 per student per year, there could not be a more impactful way for nonprofits and philanthropists to create lasting change in our community.”

The 2017 Chicago Public Schools graduating class received a record-high $1.24 billion in scholarship offers, $80 million more than 2016. CPS students have more than tripled the scholarship award amount since 2013 when the graduating class earned $400 million. The increase in scholarship gains reflects the district’s continued efforts to provide all high school students with the tools and support needed to make the scholarship search and application process accessible and successful.

Chicago Public Schools serves 371,000 students in 646 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.

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