Increasing college access and graduation rates for African-American students in Chicago

The New Era Scholarship program is RMU’s high-impact initiative in education philanthropy led by a $1.2 million donation from The Alter Group. The scholarship will transform the lives of African-American Chicago Public School graduates by providing $5,000 annually to close the gap between federal and state funding and the RMU portion of the scholarship. The total award will allow financially under-resourced students to graduate with a bachelor’s education and enter the workforce with minimal debt.

In addition to financial support, the University provides New ERA Scholars with academic and co-curricular support to ensure that students earn a degree. These strategies include summer bridge activities that keep New Era Scholars engaged with RMU during the summer months before school begins, peer mentorship, campus engagement, and the guidance of the New Era program coordinator that meets with each student to discuss their academic progress and adjustment to college life to presist to graduation.

The first cohort of 55 scholars begin their education at Robert Morris University in Fall 2018.

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
William R Harper High School

Meet the Scholars

Serving more students through New Era

With a goal to raise $4.8 million to grow and sustain this program, RMU knows that for the New Era Scholars to attain a degree, they need additional support outside of the scholarship dollars to be successful including summer bridge activities between high school and freshman year, the need for housing, books and the addition of programming and resources that align with the needs of students for each school year.

New Era FAQ:

New Era was created to address the high school to college transition gap in Chicago and promote the enrollment and graduation rate of low-income African-American Chicago Public School graduates. It is widely known that college completion rates for African-American students are much lower compared to that of White and even Hispanic students. RMU and The Alter Group recognized the disproportionate rates and the need for more support for African-American students.

According to the National Center for Education statistics, graduation rates between 2010-2016 at higher-education institutions in Chicago:
62% White
38% Hispanic
22% African American

RMU has a history of successfully educating students who typically have limited access and success in higher education. The University understands the importance of providing academic and financial support to close the college divide for underserved students. To that end, RMU provides about $25 million in scholarship support to students and 96 percent of RMU undergraduate students receive grant or scholarship aid. Over the last five graduating classes, RMU had a 57 percent graduation rate for African-American students, which is a higher rate than other institutions.


The New Era Scholarship program is supported by:

The Alter Group
Walter Family Foundation
Louis Sachs