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Northwestern Trustee and Spouse Endow Scholarships for Chicago Public Schools Graduates

Scholarships to benefit local students, strengthen partnership with CPS

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August 20, 2013 | by Alan K. Cubbage

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University announced today that Cari Sacks and Michael Sacks, CEO of Grosvenor Capital Management, vice chairman of World Business Chicago and a Northwestern trustee, have made a $5 million gift to Northwestern, $3.6 million of which is dedicated to endowing scholarships for Chicago Public Schools (CPS) graduates to attend the University. 

The Sacks’ gift, which will enable academically talented, low-income CPS students to attend Northwestern, will establish the new Cari and Michael Sacks Scholarship Fund for CPS Students. The scholarships provided through this fund will help eliminate loans in financial aid packages for those students. Eliminating the loan component means the students will graduate without debt.

“Northwestern is deeply committed to supporting Chicago Public Schools students and providing opportunities to experience a world-class education. We are grateful for Michael and Cari’s continued support of Northwestern and their extraordinary commitment to CPS students,” Northwestern President Morton Schapiro said. 

The new endowed scholarship fund builds upon the University’s longstanding academic partnerships with CPS and its commitment to CPS students. It also aligns with Northwestern’s Good Neighbor, Great University program, which helps motivate CPS and Evanston students to pursue college and provides scholarships if they elect to come to Northwestern. In the 2012-13 academic year, 178 students received scholarships under the Good Neighbor, Great University program. That number has grown from 35 students in 2010-11, the first year of the program.

“Cari and I are proud to focus our additional support on helping CPS graduates who attend Northwestern,” Michael Sacks said. “We want to create more opportunity for CPS kids and there is no better opportunity than a Northwestern education.”

Sacks is the managing director and CEO of Grosvenor Capital Management, one of the world’s largest allocators to hedge funds. He joined Grosvenor in 1990 and was named managing partner in 1994. He is also vice chairman of World Business Chicago and serves on the board of a number of institutions.

Sacks received a joint law degree and MBA from Northwestern in 1988. He has been a University trustee since 2007.

Cari Sacks is a civic and community leader. In 2010, she was appointed to the President’s Advisory Committee on the Arts for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. She also serves on the Board of Trustees of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, as well as the Erikson Institute, a nationally recognized graduate school in early childhood development focused on improving the lives of young children and families.

The new endowed scholarships strengthen the University’s commitment to Chicago high school students and align with a wide variety of existing CPS initiatives and partnerships that the University and the city have spent years developing together. Northwestern in recent years has directly or indirectly impacted the education of some 30,000 CPS students, by one estimate. These partnerships include programs run by individual Northwestern schools, research by professors that benefits Chicago Public Schools, faculty and student volunteer activities with city schools and a large number of ongoing and new programs by various departments, offices and institutes.

These programs range from music, journalism and communication partnerships to leadership, science and engineering instruction. Research work, for example, includes a Northwestern study of the high school to college transition that analyzes the impact of programs to improve college attendance for all 44,000 CPS seniors.

Among these initiatives are programs run by the Office of STEM Education Partnerships (OSEP) at Northwestern’s School of Education and Social Policy, which date back to 2006. OSEP staffers work closely with the mayor’s office and oversee at least seven partnerships with CPS schools. These include support for strategic planning and implementation of five new Early College STEM Schools and a recently announced partnership with the U.S. Navy. (STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.) 

In addition, Northwestern’s Good Neighbor, Great University program has resulted in hundreds of CPS students enrolling in the University. Since 2009, when Northwestern started waiving the application fees for CPS graduates, more than 300 CPS students have enrolled. During that time, some $303,000 in application fees have been waived for Chicago students.

That program also provides generous grants to cover the costs for qualifying low- and middle-income students who enroll at Northwestern, eliminating requirements to do work-study, take out student loans and engage in summer earning jobs. In 2012-13, Northwestern provided $9.72 million in financial aid for students who live in Chicago. This includes $1.4 million for 178 students who received a Good Neighbor, Great University Scholarship. 

“Our involvement with Chicago schools and our commitment to CPS students is strong and far reaching. Thanks to the generosity of Michael and Cari Sacks, it is growing,” President Schapiro said.