Launching last February, Hope Chicago entered the educational sphere with a distinct mission: increase the likelihood of college completion while creating pathways to economic success for multiple generations of Chicagoans. The two-generation model approach by Hope Chicago was derived from data that showed more positive outcomes for second-generation college graduates. Less than a year into the program, the initiative is showing measurable results.

This week Hope Chicago shared the postsecondary plans of the Class of 2022 scholarship recipients from Chicago's South, Southwest and West Sides. Approximately 74 percent of 2022 graduates from the organization’s five partner high schools have enrolled in postsecondary education, representing a 30 percent increase in the rate that graduates enroll compared with the average of the last four graduating classes. Compared to the class of 2021, postsecondary enrollment rates increased approximately 45 percent.

“These early enrollment data points help affirm a critical focus of our organization,” shares Hope Chicago’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Janice K. Jackson. “Hope Chicago is filling a huge gap for young people who are academically ready for college but may not meet GPA requirements for other scholarships that help them afford it.”

At Hope Chicago’s launch, it committed to providing debt-free higher education to 4,000 CPS 9th-12th grade students and a parent or guardian from five CPS schools. The Class of 2022 is the first of what will be four sequential graduating CPS classes at Hope Chicago’s partner high schools. "These scholarships will change the trajectory of so many of our student's lives," CPS CEO Pedro Martinez noted during the program’s outset. "We are so grateful to the generous donors, Dr. Jackson, and her team, and the selected school communities who will undoubtedly continue to make us proud through this amazing opportunity."

Looking at the enrollment increase by high school GPA, data suggests that the biggest gains were in the academic middle. According to a release shared with EBONY, in 2022, 67 percent of students with a GPA of 2.0 to 2.4 enrolled in postsecondary education, compared to an average of 43 percent over the past 4 years. For students with a 2.5 to 2.9 GPA, enrollment increased from 54 percent in recent years to 79 percent this year.

“These early results show the power of removing financial barriers and building Hope Scholars’ belief in themselves,” says Hope Chicago’s Chief Program Officer, Michele Howard. “As Scholars transition successfully into their postsecondary journey, we are excited to continue working side by side with our partner institutions to ensure they persist and take full advantage of this opportunity by graduating.”