ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) – Empowering Forest City students as a new partnership gives Rockford Public Schools students a chance at a debt-free education.
“I feel like my parents, they would have done anything that they could to get me to college, but this took a huge weight off their shoulders and it’s changed my life completely,” said Taylor Escamilla, Rockford Promise Scholar.
In a landmark expansion project, the City of Rockford will partner with Northern Illinois University to provide four-year full tuition scholarships for RPS 205 students through the Rockford Promise program.
“No matter where you live in the city of Rockford, you now have an additional opportunity to change your life and the course of your life for the better. We believe in you and we are here to help you succeed,” said Mayor Tom McNamara.
“NIU is committed to reducing the barriers that stand between talented students and a college education. We look upon this as an incredible opportunity to build on those efforts, right here, in Rockford, in our backyard,” said NIU President Lisa Freeman.
All seniors who graduate with a 3.0 grade point average or higher are eligible, which RPS Superintendent Ehren Jarrett says gives hard working students something in which to aspire.
“It ultimately means a community coming together with higher expectations for all of our students because while we always have believed in the potential of our students, what I love about this Rockford Promise investment is that it makes that investment tangible,” said Jarrett.
Current Promise Scholar Vanessa Peoples encourages anyone to pursue the program, no matter the obstacle.
“Just keep trying. Don’t listen to people, you know, I never really wanted to share that I was applying for some of these scholarships because I didn’t want to seem like I didn’t have money, but it’s so important, like, whether it’s $100 $5,000 or a full ride. Anything matters,” said Peoples.
The new partnership now heads to the RPS School Board, NIU’s Board of Trustees and Rockford City Council for final approval.
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