Janice K. Jackson shares Hope Chicago’s initiative to transform families

Hope Chicago is changing lives from the inside out
Janice K. Jackson shares Hope Chicago’s initiative to transform families
Janice K. Jackson (Photo credit: Chicago Public Schools)

Janice K. Jackson has 22 years of experience working with the Chicago Public Schools. She helped to transform the approach to education when she was appointed at CEO of CPS in 2017. In 2021, she was appointed the CEO of Hope Chicago, an initiative designed to change the trajectory of a family’s future through education, training and funding. Rolling out spoke with Jackson about this program, the impact it has, and how people can help.

Tell us about the parent scholarship two generation program.

So, two generation programs are typically when you are working with the whole family. You know, you’re working with one of the adults, leading the family as well as a child. We typically see this with early childhood programs. You might teach a parent how to teach [their] child how to read, how to cook healthy meals, you know, different things like that.

We’re turning that on its head because for a lot of us who are parents, we think when it’s time to go to college, “oh, my job is done.” Actually, that’s when our kids need more support because they are on the precipice of being adults and being responsible for themselves and they actually need more support.

Black and Latino kids don’t get a lot of that support from a financial standpoint because our families don’t have the kind of generational wealth that White families have. They usually have to take out a bunch of loans in order to get access. So when we offered up Hope Chicago, we said that you can go to college as well as a parent or guardian, and we got an overwhelming response. We make it flexible, so we have online options for them, but we also pay for it for them as well. And then the last thing we’ve done to expand our programming, is we have workforce development programs for parents too. So these are parents who are already working, taking care of their families, but they can go train at Northwestern and get an even better paying job.

Our goal is for people to have family-sustaining wages. We don’t want them to have minimum wage. We want them to have enough money to take care of their families, their children, so that we can break [the] cycles of poverty.

What can people do to help with this initiative?

First, I would love for people to follow up and see what we’re doing and support [our efforts] by following us online. There are opportunities to donate. You can go to our website, hopechicago.org/donate if you want to chip in. We have thousands of donors. I always tell people we have that grandmother who sent us her $10, and we appreciate that the same way we like the big corporate checks.

The other thing is just continue to follow all of the news around college affordability, whether it be related to student loan forgiveness or other scholarship programs like this, we need everybody paying attention and really pushing on lawmakers to make changes because it really shouldn’t cost as much as it does to get a post-secondary education in this country.

Watch the full interview below.

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