Chicago Football Classic Stays Ahead of the Game

The Chicago Football Classic (CFC) held its 2020 Scholarship Reception on Thursday at DuSable Museum of African American History’s Roundhouse Plaza. This year, 20 Chicago area students were selected by board members to receive $5,000 scholarships to attend Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Strategic community partnerships and generous sponsorships helped make this possible. They also received free laptops through Christmas in the Wards, a program that provides resources for specific neighborhoods.

Chicago Defender Periwinkle Chicago Football ClassicTraditionally, September is when thousands of people gather from all over for the much anticipated Chicago Football Classic experience. There is a spirit-filled weekend of festivities leading up to the annual rivalry on the gridiron between HBCU’s at Soldier Field, with the legendary college battle of the bands during halftime. Alumni and fans engage in friendly trash-talking about which team is the best. The pre-game activities off the field are just as exciting as the game itself. They include a college and career fair, a battle of the high school bands, a vendor marketplace, tailgating, a variety of food options, yard games, product sampling, and mingling among fans.

A Chicago tradition since 1997, CFC has been dedicated to providing educational resources while promoting the HBCU experience. Last year, the fund generated nearly half a million dollars in scholarships. Even though there will be no game this year due to the pandemic, CFC remains committed to helping students achieve the dream of higher education during these challenging times. “Without question, scholarships matter particularly during this highly unpredictable season in the lives of students, families, and institutions,” remarked Everett Rand. Rand is the co-founder of CFC, along with his brother Tim Rand and Larry Huggins.

2020 Scholarship Winners

Scholarship Recipient High Attended School HBCU Attending Sponsor
Alexis Gray North Lawndale Ave. Malcolm X City College State of Illinois
Alexandrea Williams Morgan Park HS Grambling State University Chicago Park District
Amaris Pleas Buford Kenwood Academy Spelman University Retired Executive-Com Ed
Andreu Mason Homewood-Flossmoor Fisk University NBC
Edward Walker III Urban Prep Bronzeville Alabama A&M University Premier Catering & Events
Erionna Marshall Munchin College Prep Alabama State University Eastlake Management
Heaven Munn University of Chicago


Jackson State University Sherman Dodge
Jabari-Ture Brooks Whitney Young HS /

University of Miami

Howard University SSP America
Jade Blanchard Lindblom Academy Howard University People’s Gas
Jazmyne Cooper Westinghouse College Prep Southern University and A&M College City of Chicago
Jourdan Rutland Homewood-Flossmoor Tuskegee University Ridge Strategy Group
Kayla Jordan King College Prep University of Arkansas Pine Bluff Chicago Football Classic
Kennedy Stoudemire Kenwood Academy Hampton University SanMar Financial
Kenneth C. Ross Marist High School Morehouse College BMO Harris Bank
Khaliyah Muhammed Kenwood Academy Southern University Baton Rouge Walgreens
Makyah White Chicago Bulls Academy Spelman College ComEd
Mia Williams Providence St. Mel Xavier University Louisiana Illinois Restaurant Association
Ralen Kimbrough De La Salle Institute Jackson State University Kimbark Beverage Shoppe
Riana J. Ward Lane Tech Hampton University Illinois Restaurant Association
Skye Watts Kenwood Academy Spelman College County of Cook
Steven B. Clay Lindblom Academy Morehouse College Chicago Cubs


Chicago Football Classic Chicago DefenderThe award ceremony was held outside in two consecutive sessions to limit the number of attendees and allow for adequate social distancing. Students accepted their awards while sponsors joined them, and they received laptops from the Chicago Cubs group. Larry Huggins, CEO/President of Riteway-Huggins Construction, attributes CFC’s success to its board of directors, sponsors, and political leadership. He acknowledged Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, and Governor J.B. Pritzker for their support. President Preckwinkle, a long-time supporter of CFC, expressed how mentorship and support at HBCUs are necessary to make graduation a reality. She thanked the CFC founders for their focus on education.  Tom Ricketts, Chairman/CEO of the Chicago Cubs, has partnered with Christmas in the Wards and CFC to enhance efforts to support college-bound students and provide laptops. He encouraged the students to take full advantage of educational opportunities. Eileen Rhodes, President of Eastlake Management, acknowledged Everett Rand for being her mentor for 20 years and showing her to give back to the community.

The Scholarships Matter Program is still accepting donations. Together, the community, organizations, and partners help make the program a success.  Julian Green, Vice President of Communications and Community Affairs for the Chicago Cubs, said that attending Alabama A&M University allowed him to experience the Civil Rights Movement’s history. He urged the future HBCU graduates to “be students of the movement” and use what they learn as inspiration while majoring in their disciplines.

Huggins Announced that there would be a golf outing and raffle on September 22, 2020, to raise money for scholarships. Having raised millions of dollars for college in the past,  he declared that next year CFC would be able to give away more than just $100,000. To reach the goal, Everett Rand appealed to the audience for their support through ticket sales and sponsorships. Huggins brought the event to a close, stating, “Not only do black lives matter but education matters. That is the number one reason as to why we do the Chicago Football Classic.”

For additional information on the Chicago Football Classic Scholarship Fund, Inc., visit


Donna Montgomery is a Community Affairs/Arts Writer in Chicago. Find her on social media @GoldenLadyWrites.

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