Walgreens Joins Hope Chicago’s Mission to Make College a Debt-Free Reality

Last week was a whirlwind of shock, surprise and jubilation for an estimated 4,000 high school students and parents of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) when Hope Chicago made stops to five Chicago-based high schools to deliver news that every student, grades 9-12, and one of their parents would receive all-expenses-paid college educations.
Walgreens was on site for each history-making announcement event as one of a host of companies supporting Hope Chicago, the new college scholarship program that has committed to investing $1 billion in scholarships to Chicago’s students and their parents over the next decade. Each announcement was anchored by a congratulatory video message from WBA CEO Rosalind Brewer, who recounted her own college experience and gratitude for the scholarship assistance that made it possible.
“Walgreens was founded in Chicago in 1901. So, to be able to extend [our support] to these scholars is really special to Walgreens and the Walgreens family,” Brewer said in the video.
“I, myself, was a recipient of a scholarship while I was in college,” she went on to say. “And, around my sophomore year I had a hardship, and I needed some help. And let me just say that scholarship was everything for me and for my family. So, congratulations to you, it’s a very big deal to be able to finish college with no debt.”
Most scholarships require minimum criteria, like threshold GPAs or ACT/SAT test scores, for students to qualify. And, they are usually intended to help offset college expenses, not pay for everything students need to remain in school and finish their degree programs. Hope Chicago scholarships do not have GPA requirements, and Hope Chicago pays for all of college and living expenses, not just tuition and room and board. Students receive extra support starting in high school, including mentoring and counseling. Then, once in college, they continue to receive wrap-around support for non-tuition expenses like books, food, laptop computers and more.
Hope Chicago’s holistic approach also gives a parent the opportunity to go (or go back) to school. Parents can start or return to two-year or four-year colleges or attend industry training or certification programs to complete their educations. Once in school, Hope Scholar parents will have the same stay-in-school services as their Hope Scholar children, giving both students and parents the added support so that they can encourage one another and succeed together.  
The first high schools included Chicago’s Benito Juarez Community Academy, Al Raby High School, Morgan Park High School, Noble-Johnson College Prep, and Farragut Career Academy. Scholars can use their fully funded scholarships at one of Hope Chicago’s 20 partner colleges, universities, or other educational programs across the state of Illinois. Hope Chicago is led by former CPS CEO Dr. Janice Jackson, who says that her organization plans to add more Chicago high schools to the fold in coming years.


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