About HFS Chicago Scholars

Our Mission

HFS Chicago Scholars helps underserved Chicago high school students flourish in and out of the classroom by providing educational enrichment through our lifelong mentoring, college readiness and academic excellence programs, as well as providing financial assistance to attend top Chicago-area schools.

What We Provide through our Three Pillars:

Academic Excellence

Individualized academic guidance from our Academic Directors
Enriched curriculum (e.g., the ComEd CREATE a Spark STEM program)

College Readiness

College readiness and admissions support
Educational enrichment and leadership development activities

Lifelong Mentoring

1:1 Mentor Scholar Match – each scholar has a mentor
Our Mentors are role models who provide guidance, assistance, and friendship to our Scholars — all of whom are embarking on very challenging paths to achieve their educational goals.

Financial Support

Four-year written commitment specifying performance expectations
Scholarship assistance to attend top Chicago private high schools


Enrolled in College


College Persistence Students who have obtained a college degree

Total College Scholarships & Grants for the class of 2023

Mentor to Scholar Match Since Inception

HFS Scholars Success

Become a scholar

Honor Roll

Over 90% of our scholars make the honor roll of the top schools in the city.



Our high school graduates include three valedictorians and one salutatorian of four of the city’s top schools.


top colleges

100% of our graduates are accepted in top colleges and universities, such as Harvard, Princeton, University of Illinois – Champaign, Loyola University, University of Michigan, Indiana University, Drake University, Loras College, and the University of Notre Dame.


school leaders

Our scholars are school leaders, serving as class officers, team captains and club presidents, and annually give over 4,000 hours to community service.

Where It
All Began …

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In 1991, Michael Kennelly, founder of HFS Chicago Scholars, was inspired by a speech by the late Cardinal Bernardin, Archbishop of Chicago, during which the Cardinal lauded the community work of Holy Family Parish on Chicago’s near south side and several other inner-city schools. Mike informed the Cardinal on the spot that he would be very interested in getting involved with the Holy Family students in any way possible. Two months later, an eighth-grade teacher at Holy Family Elementary School called Mike and asked him to speak to her class about his work as a business consultant at Arthur Andersen. He did and fell in love with the students.

Determined to help fulfill the educational aspirations of these motivated yet needy scholars, Mike immediately went to work. He recruited over 200 Arthur Andersen employees to operate a tutoring program for Holy Family eighth-graders; he solicited 25 Arthur Andersen partners to start a high-school scholarship fund for the top graduates of the school; he contributed financial support to build a computer lab at the school and hired a teacher to run it; and, most importantly, Mike became very involved in the lives of some very special children and families.

Thus, the Arthur Andersen Tutoring and Mentoring Program was founded in December 1992.In December 1993, as a result of the interest of two Arthur Andersen partners, Gary Holden and Dean Fischer, the program was renamed the HFS Scholarship Fund. Through their generous contribution and support, along with that of many other Andersen employees, HFS Scholarship Fund became a community service program with the goal of serving Holy Family School as well as providing motivated children from Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods with the means to reach a brighter future. The program worked, not just by placing the neediest students in an improved learning environment, but by challenging them with standards beyond their classmates and supporting them to help them achieve their goals. The Holy Family School has since closed. Our name has once again changed to HFS Chicago Scholars as we have united with our new partners, the Full Plate Foundation—a scholarship program offering HFS graduates financial assistance as they make the transition to college—in order to reinforce the message that we are not just an organization that provides needy students with scholarships. We are an organization that provides never-ending support to our scholars in all areas of life deemed important to achieving one’s goals. HFS Chicago Scholars continues to flourish and has become an amazing success story.

A New Look; A Renewed Commitment

Over the last 25 years, one thing has remained constant at HFS Chicago Scholars: our scholars’ reach exceeds their grasp. This actually is a line borrowed from a poem called “Andrea del Sarto” by Robert Browning, written more than 100 years ago. In it, Browning reminded his generation, and succeeding ones, that, to achieve anything truly meaningful in life, a person should always strive for those things that seem or are impossible. Not only does this attitude describe our scholars very well, but is also was the inspiration for a new visual identity.

“The Star-Reacher” is our shorthand for our new visual identity as well as the quality of students that are attracted to and thrive in HFS Chicago Scholars. Our scholars have big dreams – many of which are hard to reach – and they work hard everyday to realize them. They also are surrounded by a constellation of supporters within HFS who want to help them find a way: parents, mentors, staff members, alumni, board members and donors—many of whom they will never meet.

HFS Chicago Scholars is proud to have supported our scholars over the last 25 years, collectively totaling more than 500 students. Along the way, 100 percent of our scholars have gone on to enroll in a college or university, 90 percent have made the honor roll and all of our scholars have completed more than 50,000 community service hours to date.

After 25 years, we attribute our formula for success to our three pillars: Academic Excellence, Lifelong Mentoring and College Readiness. These three pillars explain our past accomplishments and they guide our ongoing mission. In the end, our new visual identity is a small change that represents a very big idea: with those who love and support them at their side, our scholars are meant for greatness because their reach exceeds their grasp.

1993 – 2018


2018 – Present

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