Chicago Foot­ball Clas­sic an­nounces schol­ar­ship re­cip­i­ents

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY EVAN F. MOORE, STAFF RE­PORTER emoore@sun­times.com | @evanF­moore

Pan­demic or no pan­demic, would-be col­lege stu­dents still need the re­sources to thrive in the next stage of their lives.

The Chicago Foot­ball Clas­sic and its an­nual schol­ar­ship pro­gram this year is help­ing 21 Chicago-area stu­dents as they start their col­lege ca­reers. Of those, 20 will at­tend His­tor­i­cally Black Col­leges and Uni­ver­si­ties while one is stay­ing in Chicago to at­tend Mal­colm X Col­lege.

Thurs­day night at the DuSable Mu­seum of African Amer­i­can His­tory, each stu­dent re­ceived their $5,000 schol­ar­ship and a free lap­top com­puter.

Other col­leges the stu­dents plan to at­tend in­clude Hampton Univer­sity, More­house Col­lege, Gram­bling State Univer­sity, Spel­man Col­lege, Tuskegee Univer­sity and Howard Univer­sity.

The an­nual Clas­sic at Sol­dier Field usu­ally features a game be­tween two His­tor­i­cally Black Col­leges and Uni­ver­si­ties, but COVID-19 forced this year’s game to be can­celed.

“With­out ques­tion, schol­ar­ships mat­ter, par­tic­u­larly dur­ing this highly un­pre­dictable sea­son in the lives of stu­dents, fam­i­lies, and in­sti­tu­tions,” Everett Rand, co-founder of the Chicago Foot­ball Clas­sic, was quoted as say­ing. “While his­tor­i­cally, our an­nual col­lege/ca­reer fair, epic foot­ball game fea­tur­ing spir­ited ri­val­ries and the ever-so-amaz­ing bat­tle of bands have been the sta­ples in the Chicago Foot­ball Clas­sic pro­gram­ming, it is the schol­ar­ship com­po­nent that is our true goal. De­spite the pan­demic, the CFC is pay­ing it for­ward via schol­ar­ships.”

Each Clas­sic board mem­ber was asked to nom­i­nate a Chicago-area high school se­nior or City Col­leges trans­fer stu­dent; cri­te­ria in­cluded fi­nan­cial need, con­firmed col­lege ac­cep­tance and a min­i­mum GPA of 2.7.

Those help­ing the Clas­sic fund the schol­ar­ships in­clude the Illi­nois Restau­rant As­so­ci­a­tion, Kim­bark Bev­er­age Shoppe, Chicago Park Dis­trict, NBC and the Chicago Cubs.

Jonathan Swain, owner of Hyde Park’s Kim­bark Bev­er­age Shoppe, 1214 E. 53rd St., is spon­sor­ing De La Salle In­sti­tute stu­dent Ralen Kim­brough, who plans to at­tend Jack­son State Univer­sity.

Kim­brough ap­pre­ci­ates the boost.

“It’s amaz­ing; this helps be­cause it’s just me, my dad and my sis­ter,” Kim­brough said. “Kids need an op­por­tu­nity to be able to go to school, and coro­n­avirus is push­ing ev­ery­thing back . ... Jack­son State is a great school for me, and the schol­ar­ship will help out with the tu­ition.”

Swain, who’s also CEO of LINK Un­lim­ited Schol­ars, un­der­stands the value of mak­ing sure Chicago’s Black stu­dents get the help they need; he cites a 2017 study by the Na­tional Stu­dent Clear­ing­house Re­search Cen­ter that states Black stu­dents have the low­est col­lege com­ple­tion rate (45.9%) when com­pared to other races and eth­nic­i­ties.

“The more we can help with fi­nan­cial sup­port to make sure their time there [col­lege] is strong, the bet­ter off they are,” said Swain, an alum of Duke, North­west­ern and the Univer­sity of Chicago.

“When we talk about sav­ing Black kids in school, we have to do all we can to make sure that they have all the tools to fin­ish,” he added. “[Ralen] is a great kid; he’s self-aware and really com­mit­ted to fur­ther­ing his ed­u­ca­tion. He’s look­ing to fo­cus on statis­tics in col­lege. If we think about it, there’s not a lot of Black kids fo­cus­ing on statis­tics. And so, es­pe­cially in a world where we’re try­ing to un­der­stand data in a real way, you know he’s gonna gather tools to make the world a bet­ter place.”

TYLER LARIVIERE/SUN-TIMES

Steven B. Clay, a stu­dent at Lind­blom Acad­emy, ac­cepts his schol­ar­ship Thurs­day from or­ga­niz­ers dur­ing the Chicago Foot­ball Clas­sic at the DuSable Mu­seum of African Amer­i­can His­tory.

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