Mayor Lightfoot, CTA and CPS Announce “CTA Elevating Futures Scholarship Fund” Is Now Seeking Applications from CPS High School Students

December 21, 2022

In its fourth year, CTA’s Red and Purple Modernization (RPM) scholarship program, created by CTA and RPM contractor Walsh-Fluor, helps Chicago teens pursue degrees in construction and engineering-related fields

Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and Chicago Public Schools (CPS) today announced that applications are now being accepted for the “CTA Elevating Futures Scholarship Fund”, an innovative program that provides a path for economically disadvantaged youth to pursue education and careers in construction and engineering.

Created in partnership with the Walsh-Fluor Design-Build team -- the contractor for CTA’s historic $2.1 billion Red and Purple Modernization (RPM) Phase One Project -- the scholarship program provides aid to students who plan to pursue four-year degrees in construction management, civil engineering, industrial engineering or systems engineering. Specifically, the scholarship program was created to help economically disadvantaged students to pursue an education in fields that historically create barriers for low-income students. The unique program provides $5,500 per year for four years, mentoring support and guidance in career development opportunities.

“It’s important as a city that we invest in our youth and prepare them to be leaders of tomorrow,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “This innovative scholarship program provides students from low-income backgrounds the opportunity to realize their potential to the fullest.”

“With every CTA project, we are committed to creating opportunity and promoting inclusion for Chicagoans across the city,” said CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. “We are pleased to partner with Walsh-Fluor to offer these opportunities to students interested in careers in transportation, construction and engineering.”

“We are excited to offer this scholarship to our committed and talented class of 2023," said CPS CEO Pedro Martinez. “Elevating Futures gives these students the opportunities they need to succeed and reflects a city-wide commitment to support our rising innovators and leaders.”

“These scholarship recipients are not only receiving financial and academic assistance, but they’re also getting work experience as interns in the construction and engineering fields,” Walsh-Fluor Project Executive David Shier said. “Our intent is for this program to provide everything these students need to launch successful careers.”

“The Elevating Futures Scholarship Fund has gone above and beyond to provide our financially under-resourced and first-generation Scholars with the financial supports, mentoring and internship opportunities they need for long-term success in science, technology, engineering and math,” said Jeffery Beckham, Jr., Chicago Scholars CEO. “Chicago Scholars is proud to partner with Walsh-Fluor and the CTA to deliver best-in-class opportunities for Chicago students."

“The Elevating Futures scholarship has allowed me to bring my dream to a reality,” said Loyola University student Axel Hernandez, a past scholarship recipient. “I’ve always wanted to go to college and I want to be the first person in my family to graduate from college, and get a degree in Business Administration and create a construction business for me and my family.”

To date, eight students from across the city of Chicago, including the Back of the Yards, Bridgeport, Hegewisch, Humboldt Park, Portage Park, Rogers Park, and Austin neighborhoods, have received scholarships from the “CTA Elevating Futures Scholarship Fund,” which is administered by Chicago Scholars, a nonprofit dedicated to college access, and college-success leadership development for first-generation and low-income students in Chicago. Scholarships have been awarded to graduates of Lake View High School, Lane Tech College Prep, Gary Comer College Prep, EPIC Academy High School, William Jones College Prep, Sullivan High School, and Austin College and Career Academy.

The first-of-its-kind CTA initiative provides scholarships, mentoring support and career guidance for under-resourced college students. The scholarship program is administered by Chicago Scholars, a nonprofit dedicated to college access, college success and leadership development for first-generation and low-income students in Chicago.

This will be the fourth and final round of this scholarship. Donated by Walsh-Fluor to help offset tuition costs for CPS graduates, the $250,000 ‘CTA Elevating Futures Scholarship Fund’ will have provided 10 financial aid scholarships from 2020 through 2023. The students who are awarded scholarships are also eligible to apply for paid summer internships with Walsh-Fluor and the CTA.

Applications are due March 1, 2023.  For more information about this program, visit CTA’s website at transitchicago.com/rpm/workforce-opportunities or Chicago Scholars’ web site at


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