Suburban school districts partner with United Negro College Fund to raise more than $400,000 in scholarships for local students


Suburban school districts partner with United Negro College Fund to raise more than $400,000 in scholarships for local students 

1000 guests attended Superintendents’ Commission and UNCF “Investing in Our Future” Scholarship Gala on Friday at Tinley Park Convention Center 

TINLEY PARK, ILL. — For the second year, the Superintendents’ Commission for the Study of Demographics and Diversity (SCSDD) joined forces with the United Negro College Fund to raise money for students in their communities. At the end of the night, organizers announced that the event had raised more than $400,500 toward scholarships for high school students in their districts—more than double the goal of $200,000. 

The Superintendents’ Commission is composed of 37 elementary and secondary superintendents and school districts of the suburban Cook and collar counties dedicated to providing quality educational opportunities for all students. 

Last year, the Superintendents’ Commission and UNCF, which is celebrating its 80th year, partnered and raised more than $200,000 which was double their goal of $100,000. This year, the group set a goal of $200,000 and again exceeded the goal. 

“Our collaboration with the United Negro College Fund means more money for more students,” 

said Dr. Johnnie Thomas, president of the commission and superintendent of Rich Township High School District 227. “That means more support for our students to fulfill their dreams.” 

Every year, the Superintendents’ Commission awards scholarships to high school seniors in their districts. Last year, the fundraising efforts nearly tripled the amount of scholarship dollars available to students, Thomas said. Scholarships will be awarded to students at the Superintendents’ Commission annual scholarship dinner on March 21. 

Part of the scholarship total includes ten full ride scholarships to Tougaloo College in Mississippi, a Historically Black College and University. The president of Tougaloo College, Dr. Donzell Lee, visited five high school districts last fall and said the school would give two Presidential Scholarships to students from Rich Township High School, Southland College Prep Charter High School, Bloom High School, Kankakee High School and Hillcrest High School who have a 3.5 grade point average. Dr. Lee will come to the Superintendents’ Commission dinner in March to present the scholarships. 

“The power of our individual districts coming together shows us what is possible,” said Dr. Blondean Y. Davis, Southland’s CEO and superintendent of Matteson School District 162. “We are committed to making sure that our children not only get into college, but they have the financial means to stay in college.” 

Last year 75 high school seniors from 14 high schools in suburban Cook County and Kankakee received scholarships as a result of the successful joint fundraising effort. Fourteen students from Southland received awards last year, more than double the number of students who usually receive the Superintendents’ Commission Scholarship, Davis said. 

One of those recipients was Alaya Cherry, 18, who said the scholarship changed her life. She is currently at freshman at Tougaloo. 

“Being honored by receiving that scholarship and being accepted to Tougaloo really motivated me,” said Cherry, who is majoring in economics and one day hopes to own a restaurant. “It really changed something in me. I knew that people believed in me.” 

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