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The Chicago Difference

The Chicago Difference - An Illinois Tech Initiative - Logo

Illinois Tech is proud to launch The Chicago Difference—a community transformation and scholarship initiative designed to provide wraparound support for talented young people from underrepresented backgrounds across Chicago. The Chicago Difference has been co-created with the Chicago community and is designed to build the economic engine of our tech workforce that will fast forward our city as a global leader of diversity in technology.

Together, we can elevate the young technologists of our community through education, mentorship, and wraparound support and provide competitive job opportunities to keep our top graduates right here in Chicago.

As Chicago’s top-tier tech university, Illinois Tech counts among its greatest achievements our ability to lift students from families in the bottom 20 percent of income to the top 20 percent. Our graduating students go on to illustrious careers with some of Chicago’s—and the nation’s—highest post-college earnings. The Chicago Difference takes on the income inequality across our neighborhoods by providing a successful career pathway from deeper STEM education and wraparound collegiate support to high-paying job placement right here in Chicago.

The Chicago Difference provides support across the entire student journey, from pre-college to career placement assistance, and delivers a seamless 360-degree experience that addresses key academic readiness and enrichment, as well as financial, safety, community, and belonging elements.

Since 1890 Illinois Tech has never stopped realizing our purpose: to harness the collective power of difference to drive innovation that would otherwise not be possible.

    A Different Kind of Scholarship Initiative

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    • Early STEM education and bridge pPrograms
    • Community partnerships
    • Mentorship and modeling
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    • CPS and City Colleges of Chicago
    • Community partnerships
    • Financial aid
    • Mentorship
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    • Orientation and First-Year Experience
    • Financial aid
    • Peer support
    • Mentorship
    • Expectations for success
    • Community
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    • Job placement
    • Peer mentorship
    • Professional mentorship
    • Internships and fellowships
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    • Providing and receiving mentorship
    • Providing and receiving internships
    • Network and community
    • Donor activities and volunteerism

    Here are the benefits students will gain with this opportunity:

    • Mentorship: Students will be provided individual support and guidance to ensure success across the entire student pathway: middle and high school, collegiate, and career development.
    • Internships and Fellowships: Internship and fellowship opportunities will be offered to give students firsthand, practical experience at the intersection of their areas of study.
    • Career Development and Hiring Opportunities: Students may be hired from The Chicago Difference scholars to bring the diverse thinking and practical experience of their Illinois Tech education to your business.
    • Elevating the South and West Sides of Chicago: Creates a pathway for success for young people of Bronzeville, Pilsen, and neighboring communities by strengthening local STEM education, increasing student support at Illinois Tech, and offering competitive job opportunities in the Chicago community.
    • Community transformation initiative: Engages the South and West side neighborhoods; Chicago-area businesses, foundations, and technology companies; and Illinois Tech to elevate Chicago as a global leader of diversity in technology.
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    Collens Scholars Program

    Illinois Tech established the Collens Scholarship—now part of The Chicago Difference, an Illinois Tech initiative—a full-tuition scholarship to benefit Chicago Public Schools and charter high school students across Chicago entering Illinois Tech.

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    Accelerating the Future of Chicago

    The Chicago Difference will elevate the next generation of local Illinois Tech talent—students from different backgrounds coming together to drive innovation in Chicago businesses, the tech industry, and the world. Together, we will be contributing to the Chicago community and fueling our future as a global leader in diversity in technology.

    The Benefits to the Chicago Community: 

    • Elevates young people in STEM education and increases their career opportunities by providing practical knowledge and real-world experience through Illinois Tech. 
    • Advances the Chicago workforce forward with Illinois Tech-educated and trained students who know how to harness the collective power of difference to drive innovation. 
    • Provides wraparound success beyond education and financial, including social, emotional, and belonging.
    • Creates more connection, collaboration, and integration across the Chicago-area business and tech community, the South and West sides of Chicago and Illinois Tech.