District Lends Hand to CPS Dreamers 

Creating a path to college for undocumented students

October 28, 2015

For students who are undocumented, going to college can seem next to impossible.

Known affectionately as Dreamers, these students are ineligible for any kind of federal or state aid, and often can’t even get loans. Scholarship opportunities are also few and far between, even when their grades and test scores are excellent. 

To help ease this financial burden, CPS created the DREAM Fund Scholarship in 2014, kicking off this year’s fundraising efforts with a reception at the National Museum of Mexican Art. The event, which was filled with music, dancing and speeches, included Chief Education Officer Janice Jackson and Board of Education Vice-President Jesse Ruiz, as well as members of the Chicago Multilingual Council, student performers from several schools, and current recipients of the CPS Dream Fund Scholarship. 

“Receiving this scholarship boosted my self-esteem, because I tried extremely hard in high school and felt like no one was willing to recognize my hard work,” said Fahid W., a 2014 graduate of Mather High School who did not realize until his senior year that he was not eligible for any financial aid. 

Now a freshman in college, Fahid said that the CPS Dream Scholarship was the springboard to his enrolling at the school that has been his dream since the fifth grade – the Illinois Institute of Technology. 

“Getting this scholarship opened up other opportunities for similar financial help from the state of Illinois and from IIT,” he said. “It makes me want to tell other students like me never to give up on their dreams.”

Samantha M., another scholarship recipient from 2014, viewed this opportunity as a great first step in her ultimate plan to become a cosmetic surgeon. 

“There’s very little out there for undocumented students, so the fact that I was able to earn one of these scholarships is a big relief,” she said. “It’s very comforting to know that I’ll be able to work and study now and won’t have to worry about my mom stressing over paying my tuition.”

Luis Narvaez, one CPS staffer who played a significant role in organizing the Dream Fund event, was clear on its purpose. 

“We know that these students are going to be here for the long run,” he said. “Through this scholarship, we are helping put them through college so that eventually they will join our workforce and become not the future, but the present of our city, our state and our nation.”

“We talk about the American Dream,” said Board of Education Vice-President Jesse Ruiz. “We are promoting that for the rest of our CPS students, so we need to be promoting it among our dreamrers as well.”

The CPS Dream Fund Scholarship is funded exclusively through District sponsors and contributions from CPS employees. To donate, please contact Luis Narvaez at lnarvaez2@cps.edu. 

Page Last Modified on Wednesday, October 28, 2015