Newswise — A new University of Illinois Chicago scholarship honoring the groundbreaking African American journalist and civil rights leader Ida B. Wells will serve Chicago Public Schools and Archdiocese of Chicago students.

The Ida B. Wells Scholarship Fund has been created to meet some of the needs of African American students to help them receive their degrees. The scholarship fund will be used to help offset housing and educational costs for students graduating from 20 partner schools in underserved communities. The first preference for the scholarships will go to students who identify as African American.

A virtual event announcing the award will feature Wells’ great-grandson and keynote speaker, Dan Duster, as well as UIC Chancellor Michael Amiridis; Amalia Pallares, associate chancellor and vice provost for diversity; Yuji Toefield, chair of the Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of Blacks; Jonathan Banks, member of the UIC African American Advisory Council, and representatives of the Chicago Public Schools, as well as students.


Wednesday, Feb. 24
6-7:30 p.m.


Presented via Zoom Videoconferencing


The creation of the fund honors Ida B. Wells, an icon who traveled the country reporting for over 40 years on the horrors of lynching. After her life was threatened and her newspaper office was destroyed, the former slave and trailblazing reporter and editor relocated to Chicago, where she met and married lawyer and civil rights activist Ferdinand L. Barnett, with whom she raised a family. Wells co-founded the NAACP and the National Association of Colored Women, as well as worked on issues related to mass incarceration and served as a probation officer until her death in Chicago in 1931. In 2020, Wells was posthumously honored with a Pulitzer Prize for her, “outstanding and courageous reporting on the horrific and vicious violence against African Americans during the era of lynching.”

“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 at Urbana-Champaign.

To be eligible for the Ida B. Wells Scholarship, graduating high school seniors from the 20 partnering schools must be in the top 4% of their class and be admitted to UIC as a new full-time undergraduate student. Scholarship application components require a letter of recommendation, a recent transcript, out-of-classroom involvement and an essay.

The scholarship funds will be used to assist first-year undergraduate students with potential assistance for their second consecutive academic year at UIC. The awardees will receive financial assistance to offset housing and educational costs.

Co-Chairs Caroline Swinney and Phyllis P. Hayes are thrilled to serve as the leaders of the initiative.

“The Ida B. Wells scholarship fund is born from the initiative of UIC community members who care deeply about ensuring the retention and success of African American students. The need to cover housing and other basic expenses has only become more pressing in these critical pandemic times,” Pallares said. “Contributing to this fund is a key way to address the social and racial inequities that are impacting our students’ lives. We want the students in our partner high schools to think of UIC as the university that welcomes and supports them with the resources they need to fulfill their potential.”

Applications will be reviewed by the Ida B. Wells Review Committee guided by the UIC Office of the Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion along with UIC Student Affairs Office.

The schools involved in the partnership include:

Austin College and Career Academy, Chicago International High School – Ralph Ellison, Chicago Vocational Career Academy High School, Collins Academy High School, Dunbar Career Academy High School, Hansberry College Prep, Harlan Community Academy High School, Hyde Park Academy High School, John Marshall Metropolitan High School, Leo High School,  Manley Career Academy High School, Morgan Park High School, Noble Charter DRW Campus, North Lawndale College Prep Christiana Campus, North Lawndale College Prep Collins Campus, Percy Julian High School, Perspectives High School Leadership Academy, Perspectives High School of Technology, Phillips Academy High School and Simeon Career Academy High School.