Robert Morris University Illinois Awards New ERA Scholarships to Incoming Freshmen

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In an effort to increase graduation rates for African American students in Chicago, Robert Morris University Illinois has established the New ERA Scholarship program. Funded by donations, New ERA aims to assist 300 low income African American students from Chicago schools over the next six years.

RMU Illinois alumnus Marlon Sykes, an accountant at PriceWaterhouseCoopers, addresses New ERA scholarship recipients.

"The New ERA Scholarships will have a real impact on first generation students from Chicago. We are so pleased to welcome these young people to the Robert Morris family." --Mablene Krueger, President, Robert Morris University Illinois

Robert Morris University Illinois celebrated the first cohort of New ERA Scholarship recipients at the downtown campus this week. Incoming freshman students and their families were invited to attend a ceremony which recognized each New ERA scholarship recipient. Over 250 applications were received for the 55 available scholarships of $5000 each, annually. The scholarship closes the remaining financial aid gap after Federal, State, and RMU grants have been awarded.

New ERA is jointly funded by RMU and private philanthropists, jumpstarted by a donation from the Michael Alter family. The vision for the scholarship program is to transform lives and Chicago communities by helping to ensure graduation and employment opportunities for 300 low-income African American students from the Chicago schools over the next six years.

In 2016 in Chicago, the college completion rates were 22% for African American students and 38% for Latino students. RMU has average graduation rates of 57% and 77%, respectively, for those groups of students. RMU aims to improve those graduation rates for African American students through the New ERA program.

The ceremony began with a welcome by Executive Vice President Nicole Cafillio and Michael Alter, who spoke about RMU’s high graduation rates, the importance of staying focused and motivated, and using the University’s resources to help students succeed.

Marlon Sykes, an accountant with PriceWaterhouseCoopers, was the RMU alumnus who spoke to the students about his college and career experiences. Faculty member Dr. Ed Dixon, is program coordinator for New ERA scholarship winners. He encouraged recipients to set a high bar for themselves as they begin their college careers and that he expects to be there when each one completes his or her bachelor’s degree in four years.

The RMU students involved in the Peer-Mentors Program engaged the students in an ice-breaking activity that helped them to get to know one another and talk about their plans for college at RMU. The ceremony was followed by a reception in the RMU Culinary Dining Room that included a beautiful array of unique desserts prepared by RMU culinary students.

“The New ERA Scholarships will have a real impact on first generation students from Chicago,” said RMU President Mablene Krueger. “The generosity of donors and especially the Michael Alter and Kimbra Walter families, creates college and ultimately career opportunities for CPS students. We are so pleased to welcome these young people to the Robert Morris family.”

Chicago high schools and transition groups with New ERA Scholarship students include: ACERO-De La Cruz Charter School, Al Raby High School, Bogan High School, Catalyst Maria High School, Chicago Tech Academy, Chicago Vocational High School, Christ the King Jesuit College Prep, Collins High School, Crane Tech Prep Common School, Dunbar Vocational Career Academy, Edwin G. Foreman High School, EPIC Academy, Hyde Park Academy, Intrinsic School, John Marshall Metro, Jones College Prep, Marine Leadership Academy, Morgan Park High School, North Grand High School, North Lawndale College Prep, Paul Robeson High School, Percy L Julian High School, Perspectives Charter School, Rauner College Prep, Roberto Clemente Community Academy, Roosevelt High School, Rowe-Clark Math/Science Academy, Schurz High School, Simpson Academy for Young Women, Steinmetz Academic Centre, Tilden Career Community Academy, Wells Community Academy, Wendell Phillips Academy, West Town Academy, Whitney M Young Magnet High School, and William R Harper High School. The transition groups include: OneGoal, iMentor, KIPP, and Phoenix Pact.

Robert Morris University Illinois is a not-for-profit, accredited baccalaureate and graduate degree granting institution, serving students interested in getting an education in business, graphic arts, nursing and health care, culinary and computer studies at its main campus in Chicago, as well as at locations in Arlington Heights, DuPage, Elgin, Orland Park, Springfield, Peoria, Schaumburg and Lake County. For more information, call 800-762-5960 or visit the web site at

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