scholarship opportunities

City Treasurer Launches “Empowerment Scholarships” for New College Students

Chicago City Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin and the Chicago Treasurer’s Office will award first-ever Empowerment Scholarships to first-year students entering a two or four-year accredited institution in the fall of 2023. The one-time, $5,000 awards will be presented during the CTO’s “Financial Youth Symposium and Step Show” program at Chicago State University on August 31.

The Empowerment Scholarships are the first being awarded to Chicago students as part of the CTO’s 2023-2024 college scholarship program sponsored by community partners, BMO, Discover, First Eagle, Huntington National Bank, Nuveen, Partners Group, Marquette Associates, Inc., Providence Bank & Trust, Ulico Investment Advisors, Inc., Wintrust, and Victory Park Capital Advisors, LLC. To be eligible for the $5,000 award, which can be used to pay for any education-related expenses, a student must be enrolled in an institution of higher learning in the fall of 2023 and submit a completed application, including an essay, high school transcripts and other materials, to by 11:59pm on Sunday, August 6.

Scholarship Essay Questions and Rules

  • Submit a typed essay (no more than 500 words in length) answering your choice of any one of the four following questions:
    • Describe a personal experience that highlights the importance of financial education and explain how you might benefit from financial services and resources in your community.
    • Describe an innovative idea to make financial services, such as loans for a new home or to grow a small business, more accessible to more people in communities of color.
    • Share a significant community service or volunteer experience that you had and explain what inspired you to make a difference in your community and to help others.
    • Describe how the Empowerment Scholarships will enable you to help create a more equitable and inclusive society

Documents required to be submitted with the application

  • One letter of recommendation from either a teacher, advisor, employer, or another who can speak to academic ability, character, and potential (family and relatives are excluded)
  • Proof of Chicago residency (i.e., Drivers License, State ID, or Academic Letter)
  • Resume
  • Unofficial transcript from high school, such as a print-out from student portal
  • Enrollment verification from a two- or four-year accredited college or university

For additional information about the scholarship programs and the Chicago Youth Symposium, contact

Opportunities to pursue additional CTO college scholarships will be available in the fall. Details will be announced later.

As part of the Treasurer’s High School Scholarship Essay Contest, the Treasurer’s office annually awards non-renewable scholarships, sponsored by BMO Harris Bank, to support the cost of attending the first year of college to two high school students. This scholarship is open during Black History Month, Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Hispanic Heritage Month, and Native American Heritage Month, recognizing seniors in high school who have displayed outstanding academic achievement or community involvement and who write a thoughtful and impactful essay on a topic related to the respective heritage month. This scholarship is open to all Chicago High Schools seniors and requires no minimum grade point average.

Click here for more information and eligibility requirements.

Below are the winners of previous scholarships:

2022 – 2023
Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month
First Place: Jeremy Battung, Goode High School
Second Place: Marish Manuel, Admundsen High School

2022 – 2023
Black History Month
First Place: Tyler Smith – $1,500
Second Place: Iyana Gross – $1,000

2021 – 2022
Hispanic Heritage Month 

First Place: Jade Avalos, World Language Academy High School
Second Place: Alicja Martinez, Carl Schurz High School

Black History Month

First Place: Aniyah Chase-Mayfield, Walter Payton College Prep
Second Place: Maurice Oldham, Amundsen High School

2021 – 2022
Black History Month
First Place: Jada E. Carey, Gary Comer College Prep
Second Place: Ezekiel Bramble, Von Steuben High School

2020 – 2021
Hispanic Heritage Month
First Place: Alissa Medina – $1,500
Second Place: Jacqueline Guzman – $1,000

2019 – 2020
Hispanic Heritage Month

First Place: Abel Almanza – $1,500
Second Place: Yovani Villeda Alvarez – $1,000

CPS Essay Scholarship Announcements