15,000 local students could be heading to Soldier Field for the Chicago Football Classic

Chicago leaders and current and former NBA players will sponsor local students to experience this year’s game between Howard University and Hampton University.

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Chicago Football Classic Scholarship Fund co-founder Everett Rand speaks surrounded by community supporters.

Chicago Football Classic Scholarship Fund co-founder Everett Rand speaks at a news conference Monday at Soldier Field.

Syd Stone/Sun-Times

Ald. Michael Scott Jr. (24th) used to think he wanted to go to a Big Ten school. That is until his dad took him to the Chicago Football Classic.

“To see the quality of the game that was here, to see all of the people and resources that this game put on, it changed my mind,” he said.

Scott said the game and college fair opened his eyes to the world of historically black colleges and universities. He went on to graduate from Morehouse College in Atlanta.

Now in its 22nd year, the Chicago Football Classic aims to bring 15,000 students to Soldier Field to watch Howard University play Hampton University on Sep. 14. Each year, the game showcases some of the country’s top HBCUs both on and off the field, with a college fair designed to encourage students to “achieve their personal best in school and beyond.”

“It’s a chance for our kids to not just hold the ladder of success and let others climb it, it’s their turn to climb it, to find what’s up there,” Chicago Football Classic Scholarship Fund co-founder Everett Rand said. “They need a chance to show themselves that they can do better than they’re doing.”

Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office and the Chicago Bears Foundation have pledged to sponsor 1,000 students each to attend the game this year. Two NBA players from Chicago — the Los Angeles Lakers’ Anthony Davis and Detroit Pistons’ Derrick Rose — will sponsor 4,000 students from Englewood. Former NBA player and Chicago native Mark Aguirre will pay the cost of transportation to the game for pre-selected students.

Event organizers are still working on securing sponsors for tickets and transportation for more students.

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