CPS graduates seeking teaching careers now have access to a new scholarship program that aims to increase diversity among Chicago educators.
The Supporting Emerging Educators Development scholarship announced Wednesday will target CPS graduates participating in Teach Chicago Tomorrow, a new initiative between City Colleges and CPS that carves a pathway for students to go to college and then become full-time CPS teachers.
“The cost of college can no longer be a barrier to our students’ aspirations, in particular the many Black, Latinx and low-income students we serve,” said Juan Salgado, chancellor of City Colleges of Chicago.
“It will help transform our city, creating a more diverse teacher workforce and a more inclusive economy,” he added.
Starting in the fall, the scholarship will be available for 2020 and 2021 graduates from CPS high schools, including charters, who apply and enroll in Teach Chicago Tomorrow. Undocumented students are also eligible.
At least 100 students will be offered up to $3,000, depending on how many course credits are taken, in individual scholarships by City Colleges. It will be renewable for up to three years.
“As we look at supporting new teachers, we must recognize our responsibility to give them the nourishment they need to grow in their craft,” said Shawn Jackson, Truman College president and a former CPS student, teacher and principal.
“The SEED Scholarship will allow us to provide an investment in aspiring teachers — the seeds we plant now will be the teachers of tomorrow,” he added.
Scholarship recipients endeavor on one of two tracks: Pathways Partnership, where students earn a City Colleges associate degree and then a bachelor’s degree from Illinois State University, or Emerging Educator, where students take classes at City Colleges and then transfer to any four-year institution.
City Colleges has transfer agreements with many four-year institutions, including Chicago State University, DePaul University, Northeastern Illinois University, Northern Illinois University and Southern Illinois University. These agreements waive fees and help students enroll.
Illinois has seen a 54 percent decline in Black students and 28 percent drop in Latino students earning education degrees over the past decade, according to a CPS analysis of data from the Illinois Board of Higher Education.
SEED Scholars who earn licenses to teach in Illinois “will have priority placement for a full-time teaching job in CPS schools,” officials said.
Every year, CPS hires some 140 CPS graduates as teachers and is aiming to triple the number of its graduates hired annually to exceed 500, according to a CPS spokesperson.
Based on current trends, most of those new homegrown teachers will be Black or Hispanic, officials said.
“This new scholarship is a critical investment in our students that helps reduce barriers for participation, and it is another step forward in creating a more equitable future for our city,” said Janice K. Jackson, chief executive officer of CPS who graduated from CPS and began her career as a CPS teacher.
Unlike City College’s Star Scholar program that offers all CPS graduates with a 3.0 GPA free tuition, students who want to pursue a teaching career need a 2.7 or a 2.5 GPA with two reference letters to qualify for the SEED scholarship.