UIC launches Ida B. Wells Scholarship Fund

Ida B. Wells Scholarship Fund

UIC is launching the Ida B. Wells Scholarship, which honors the civil rights leader’s legacy and aims to help African American students receive their degrees.

A virtual reception from 6-7:30 p.m. Feb. 24 hosted by the UIC Office of Diversity will announce the award and feature keynote speaker Dan Duster, great-grandson of Ida B. Wells. Please register here.

Dan Duster

“Providing resources for people, especially people of color, to get educated is still so necessary, and I appreciate that UIC is not only recognizing that but taking active actions to make it happen,” said Duster, motivational speaker and alumnus of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

The Ida B. Wells Scholarship Fund has been created to help offset college costs for students matriculating from 20 partner Chicago high schools in underserved communities whose enrollment is more than 95% African American. The scholarship will help the selected students cover housing and educational costs. The high school seniors must be in the top 4% of their class to be eligible for the scholarship for their first year at UIC, with the potential to renew the scholarship for their second year at UIC.

“Research indicates with the rising cost of college expenses, many students are concerned about how they will pay for college,” said Phyllis P. Hayes, founder of the UIC CHANCE Program. “However, for African American students, who often come from underserved communities, this concern is even more real because in many cases, access to financial aid can mean the difference between being able to go to college and not having that opportunity at all.”

While the scholarship aims to help African American students attend UIC, it also honors the legacy of Wells, an African American journalist and civil rights activist who co-founded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the National Association of Colored Women.

“Naming the fund after Ida B. Wells was a way to honor her commitment to social justice. One of the selection criteria for student applicants is to document work done in their respective communities,” said Caroline Theus Swinney, assistant vice provost of diversity and community engagement.

“What UIC is doing completely aligns with the family and with the Ida B. Wells Memorial Foundation, and we appreciate it,” Duster said. “The recognition of Ida B. Wells by UIC and the long overdue and well-deserved recognition she’s getting in America and having it in our own town is extra special.”

Duster also will receive the Legacy Award from UIC’s Black History Month Committee during the reception.

“It’s an absolute honor; our family has always been about promoting and preserving the legacy of Ida B. Wells. So, to receive the legacy award aligns directly with that. On behalf of my family, I’m definitely honored to do so,” Duster said.

“This is the first time that this kind of scholarship is being offered to African American students on our campus,” Hayes said. “It is the hope of the Ida B. Wells Scholarship Committee that this initiative will help increase the numbers of African American students who are admitted to our campus. This scholarship stands for our plight to continue to fight for access, equity and inclusion.”

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