Former, CPS CEO, Janice Jackson Joins Hope Chicago

After taking some much-needed time off after stepping down as the CEO of Chicago Public Schools, Dr. Janice Jackson announced today she is joining HOPE Chicago, a scholarship program to provide help for students and parents.

Co-Founded by Pete Kadens and Ted Koenig, Hope Chicago is a first-of-its-kind two-generation scholarship program that will provide counseling, mentoring, career guidance, emergency funds, and the guarantee of a debt-free college experience.  Dr. Janice Jackson will lead the organization of leaders in business, education, and philanthropy.  Dr. Jackson believes this was the appropriate next step in her passion for education.

Hope Chicago has ambitious goals. Hope Chicago’s plan to raise, invest and deploy $1 billion in college scholarships and support funding over the next decade will specifically covering the full cost of attendance for 24,000 first-year college students who enroll at participating two-and four-year nonprofit higher education institutions, including the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, or postsecondary industry certification programs, supporting over 6,000 CPS parents/guardians on their journey to return to school through a unique two-generation model, and utilizing a holistic approach through partnerships with like-minded community organizations and outreach programs that can reach 73,000 students with comprehensive support services.

Dr. Jackson believes this program is unique in that it is a two-generation model.  “We are not only providing scholarships to CPS students, but their parents also get an opportunity to go to school or go back to school depending on where they are”, said Dr. Jackson.  She continued saying, “That was one of the biggest sticking points for me when I heard about this opportunity.  I’m a big believer that education can disrupt poverty. But I’ve never seen a program that tries to bring both generations together to lift up families and communities. Many parents put their hopes and dreams on hold to have families and take care of their children and finances are a huge barrier. Hope Chicago removes that barrier”.

“A scholarship program of this magnitude has never been done before, but we are betting big on Chicago’s families most in need. With that in mind, it’s our goal that Hope Chicago will positively disrupt the post-secondary education system and serve as a potential model for the nation,” said Pete Kadens, Founder and Chairman of Hope Chicago. “With leaders like Dr. Jackson at the helm and a community of support across public and private sectors, we can achieve our bold vision – to help thousands of students and their parents realize their dreams and earn a degree – and have a significant impact on generations to come.”

Hope Chicago’s administrative and operational costs are fully funded for the next three years thanks to two generous donations.  This means every dollar raised will go directly to the students.  The first Cohort of Hope Chicago Scholars will be selected in Spring 2022 and begin their post-secondary education in the fall of that year.

Dr. Jackson says Hope Chicago will partner with schools to provide debt-free education. Chicago State University, The City Colleges of Chicago, and the University of Illinois are all current partners. “The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is excited to be a partner in Hope Chicago’s visionary new pathway to college access and attainment for Chicago Public Schools students. This is some of the best news I have heard in this space for years and this is a transformational moment for so many Chicago families,” said University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Chancellor Robert J. Jones. In addition to Illinois institutions, Dr. Jackson expressed hope in adding HBCUs to the list of academic partners for Hope Chicago.

Hope Chicago will start the selection process with a subset of CPS schools in December. Those students and their parents will be eligible to apply for the HOPE Scholarship.  Dr. Jackson says as HOPE Chicago raises more money over the next ten years, it will be able to bring more CPS schools on board.  There are no special criteria to obtain the HOPE Scholarship outside of the initial application.  If a student is accepted into a HOPE Chicago partner college, university or trad program, the Hope Chicago Scholars program will pay the tuition and fees after any financial aid.

“Hope Chicago’s visionary mission sets our students and their families up for success. Like many of our students, education was my way out of poverty. As I embark on my work with CPS, programs like Hope Chicago motivates us to help students complete their education and ultimately get on the pathway for economic success,” said incoming CPS CEO Pedro Martinez.

Dr. Jackson says, Hope Chicago hopes to reach over 70,000 students over the next ten years providing outreach, services, and counseling.   Of those students, 20,000 students and 8000 parents would receive the scholarship.  She says, her own experiences in education motivated her to join HOPE Chicago and provide opportunities to families. “I want kids to get an education because I know from my own experience, that’s how we disrupted generational poverty in my family, she says.

HOPE Chicago is currently taking donations from anyone interested in investing in the future education of Chicago teens and their families.  Dr. Jance Jackson said while her time after CPS provided much need rest and time with her family, she is aligned with her purpose. “You have to pay attention to your purpose. I know clearly what purpose I have. I am on assignment. This is my assignment. So, I’m super excited about it. And I feel very proud of what I did in CPS. And I feel like this is the next step.”

For more information on Hope Chicago, visit

Danielle Sanders is a journalist and reporter based in Chicago. Find her on social media @DanieSanders20 and @DanieSandersOfficial.


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