For 23-years, the city of Chicago has been the home for one of the biggest college football games in the country, the Chicago Football Classic. Founded by Larry Huggins and brothers, Tim and Everett Rand, the Chicago Football Classic is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to encouraging the American Black youth to achieve their personal best. The organization aims to empower Chicago youth to focus on attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities after graduating from high school.
Annually transforming The Windy City into the social mecca of classic HBCU football games started with Larry Huggins, the CEO of Riteway-Huggins Construction Service, Tim, and Everett Rand, owners of multiple restaurants in Midway Airport, traveling to Indianapolis to watch the Circle City Classic. After witnessing the impact that those games had on the city of Indianapolis, the trio of business leaders and friends began putting the pieces in place to shift the economic landscape in Chicago while putting an exclamation point on HBCU’s and education.
“When you talk about the economic impact the Circle City Classic had on Indianapolis, you had fans and business people from all over the country coming to watch those games, and they were taking over Indianapolis,” says Larry Huggins. “So, the goal was to bring that economic impact into the city of Chicago.” And according to Everett, with Chicago being the best of the mid-west, it was only right “being businessmen to bringing something like this to the city.”
The Chicago Football Classic is more than a game. It’s a three-day event that includes prep rallies, after-parties hosted by some of Chicago’s best in entertainment, a battle of the bands, and a Greek step battle that brings the HBCU homecoming experience to the city of Chicago.
But the pillar of the CFC is its college fair combined with its scholarship program. Higgins says since the board of trustees has been able to grow the college fair, students of Chicago are being recruited by HBCU’s. “Clark-Atlanta for an example,” Huggins says. “Chicago is the number one city when it comes to students attending Clark-Atlanta that are not from Atlanta. Moorhouse, Central-State, and Jackson State are the same way. So when they come here, more of our children are going to their schools.”
“So, the scholarship opportunities are simply tremendous,” Larry Huggins continues. “Not only do we provide scholarships, but these schools are also providing scholarships.”
In 2018 alone, four-thousand students and 30-HBCUs from across the country attended the CFC college fair, with 1.5 million dollars of scholarship funds going to Chicago students attending HBCUs.
Unfortunately, the Chicago Football Classic was postponed this year due to the recent health crisis. However, the Rand brothers and Larry Huggins were still able to raise an upward of one-hundred-thousand-dollars worth scholarship funds with laptop computers to 20 students. Huggins said including laptops with the scholarship is a “way to make the college experience easier for the kids, so they can truly learn.”
“When the kids go away to school, the laptop is a tool that they’re going to need,” explains Huggins. “A lot of the parents struggle financially to get their kids in college. So that laptop is just another way for us to help out. Education is very important to us, and it’s about whatever we can do to help these kids.”
“It’s a chance for our kids to hold the ladder of success and let others climb it when it’s their turn to climb it,” said Everett Rand. “They deserve a chance to show that they can do better than they’re doing.”
Ralen Kimbrough, one of the 20 recipients of the 2020 Chicago Football Classic Scholarship, who will be attending Jackson State University, says being rewarded this scholarship brings about an amazing opportunity. “This helps because it’s just me, my dad, and my sister,” Ralen says. “We need opportunities to be able to go to school. Jackson State is a great school for me, and the scholarship will help out with the tuition.”
Larry Huggins, Everette, and Tim Rand have given the Black community in Chicago more than just a classic football showdown; they’ve given the Black youth real opportunities to pursue higher education.
For more information on the Chicago Football Classic, please visit www.chicagofootballclassic.org or call (773) 874-8000 x4024. Also, follow on their social media pages; Facebook @ChicagoFootballClassic, Twitter @Chiftblclass, and their Instagram page @Chifootballclassic.