Each June, the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless awards renewable college scholarships to graduating high school seniors who succeeded in school despite coping personally with homelessness.

Students from Chicago and suburban schools are eligible to apply as well as CCH youth leaders and former youth clients. Applications for the 2021-22 academic year are now closed.

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.

Read about our 2021 scholarship winners.

To showcase the promise and tenacity of students who experience homelessness, the CCH Law Project created a scholarship program in 2004. It was the next step for a legal aid program that focuses its casework on helping homeless students 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.

Celebrating a 2019 college graduate, T’Prinn Ingram!

To date, 28 scholarship recipients graduated with bachelor’s degrees, 47% 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).

Three other scholarship students (6%) have earned associate or nursing degrees.

CCH scholarships are funded by private donors and several groups: Associated Bank, Sisters of Charity, BVM; Jill L. Meinzer Scholarship Fund; The Osa Foundation and Robin Lavin; Susan W. Pearson Memorial Fund; and the Student Alliance for Homeless Youth. 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.

Columnist Mary Schmich profiled 2019 winner Tavarion Foster in the Chicago Tribune. 

Chicago Tribune also profiled 2015 winners and college grad Daihana Estrada.

For more information, contact Intake & Support Manager Christy Savellano.