Each June, the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless awards renewable college scholarships to graduating high school seniors who succeeded in school while experiencing homelessness.
Students from Chicago and suburban schools are eligible to apply as well as CCH youth leaders and former youth clients.
Thanks to support from long-time donors and a substantial new gift in memory of Jill Meinzer, we were able to increase student awards to $3,500 a year in 2020.
The award was increased to $4,000 in 2023, thanks to a substantial gift from an anonymous foundation. This gift allowed CCH to begin supporting approximately 24 students annually, up from 20.
CCH’s Law Project started the scholarship program in 2004, seeking to support, encourage, and celebrate the students and youth with whom it works. It was the next step for a legal aid program that focuses its casework on helping students experiencing homelessness and unaccompanied youth. Patricia Rivera, then director of the Chicago Public Schools’ Homeless Education Program, collaborated with CCH in creating the scholarship and was the first private donor to support the scholarships.
To date, 35 scholarship students graduated with bachelor’s degrees, 52% of those eligible to do so. This compares to a national study that shows 21% of first-generation students in the lowest income bracket earned a bachelor’s from a four-year school within six years (University of Pennsylvania and Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education, 2021).
Four other scholarship students (6%) have earned an associate or nursing degrees.
CCH scholarships are funded by individual donors and institutional partners including Sisters of Charity, BVM; Jill L. Meinzer Scholarship Fund; The Osa Foundation and Robin Lavin; and the Susan W. Pearson Memorial Fund. The program also benefited by early grants from the Alvin H. Baum Family Fund and a $10,000 challenge grant from Elaine’s Hope, funded by the late educator Rhonda Purwin.
- Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown profiled 2010 winner and 2021 law school grad Daihana Estrada.
- Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich profiled 2019 winner Tavarion Foster.
For more information, contact Intake & Support Manager Christy Beretta.