The John E. Rooney Dynamic Scholarship

The John E. Rooney Dynamic Scholarship provides a grant for post-secondary education to a youth from UCAN who embodies the role of a leader. This scholar is selected based upon the quality of his or her application and an interview with selected UCAN board members, staff and youth ambassadors. Each youth must have demonstrated the following to qualify:

  • Completed high school with a minimum 3.0 grade point average.
  • Showed intent to continue an education to an accredited two-year or four-year college, university or vocational training school.
  • Demonstrated leadership abilities in academics and extra-curricular activities in school and within the community.

About the Rooney Family

The late John E. Rooney, also known as Jack, was the President & Chief Executive Officer of U.S. Cellular Corporation. He became a prominent leader in the Chicago business community by creating value-based cultures within the companies he ran. He believed a company's culture should motivate employees to demonstrate customer focus, respect, empowerment, pride and ethics. The business model he used while at U.S. Cellular was based on effective leadership, and in 2004 U.S. Cellular established this scholarship to honor him for his own leadership. Since then, this scholarship has given young people the chance to pursue their dreams of a college education and the opportunity to become successful leaders.


Alissa Loving, Senior, DRW College Prep

Nominated by: Andrea Lee, UCAN Manager of External Affairs

Program Description: Youth Peace Council

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Youth Description: Alissa Loving exemplifies what it means to be a leader in all that she does. In addition to a number of volunteer activities, she has worked with several community building organizations in North Lawndale, is the captain of her school’s cheerleading team, is Vice President of the student council, and is a peer mediator at her school, all the while maintaining a 4.2 GPA. Eager to become one of the first in her family to earn a college degree, this future lawyer is driven to change the narrative for young people of color who are falsely accused of crimes. She is also determined to increase the level of diversity in the field of law, leading by example and through service.

Future Aspirations: Alissa plans to attend Howard University and aspires to become a criminal justice lawyer.

Youth Leadership Award Winners


Sadie Johnson

Senior, Thornwood High School

Nominated by: Tiffany Fairchild-Reese, UCAN Youth Development Coach ll

Program Description: Counseling and Youth Development Services (CYDS) - Phenomenal Woman

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Youth Description: Accountable, strong work ethic, determined and aspirational – these are all words that have been used to describe Sadie Johnson. A youth in care, this bubbly young woman balances a full life with school, work and parenting. Graduating early from high school, Sadie draws inspiration from her daughter and her faith, and strives to uplift other young mothers as they navigate the often difficult terrain. No stranger to what it takes to overcome, Sadie plans to become a behavioral specialist, so that she can help shape other young ladies into phenomenal women.

Future Aspirations: Sadie aspires to become a Behavioral Specialist.


Arianna Collins

Senior, George Westinghouse College Prep

Nominated by: Michael Henderson, UCAN Youth Development Coach

Program Description: Violence Intervention and Prevention Services

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Youth Description: Leading. Connecting. Intentionality. Strong words used to describe a strong young woman, Arianna Collins. A leader in the making, this youth in care learned early on the importance of accountability, honesty, and good decision making. Her fortitude and resilience, along with a solid support system, provided a guiding light for her to navigate through past trauma and have prepared her to overcome future challenges. Ari’s future is bright. Accepted into several well known and lauded Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), Ari hopes to take the lessons learned in her life to inspire advocacy around the child welfare system and to create a space to develop women business leaders.

Future Aspirations: Arianna aspires to attend a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) to major in business.


Jason Ivery

Sophomore, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point

Nominated by: Desire Hunter, UCAN Education and Career Coach

Program Description: Teen Parenting Service Network (TPSN)

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Youth Description: A natural leader, Jason Ivery’s commitment to his family and his principles is inspiring. This student athlete’s ability to balance school, athletics and a job have served him well, leading to the completion of a number of prestigious internships and job training opportunities. Mature beyond his years, Jason’s confident communication style and positive outlook on life, position him as a source of inspiration for his peers and adults alike. This aspiring entrepreneur not only wants to continue on in his college studies, he wants to also become a Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow where his insights and influence can help to make a significant impact in the lives of others.

Future Aspirations: Jason aspires to become an entrepreneur and owner of his own restaurant and/or clothing store. He also aspires to become a Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow.


Alexis McNulty

Senior, Paul Laurence Dunbar Career Academy High School

Nominated by: Yashika Walker, UCAN Education Coach

Program Description: Teen Parenting Service Network (TPSN)

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Youth Description: Alexis McNulty is a motivated, yet humble and compassionate young woman. This former youth in care always strives to reach for the stars and focus on the positive aspects of life. Determined not to become a victim of her circumstances, Alexis focused on school as she navigated personal loss and depression. Her resilience, tenacity and determination earned her a full scholarship to East-West University, where she is finishing up her first year of studies. Alexis wants to become a psychiatrist because they help people in times of need, helping to usher in joy and happiness into people’s lives.

Future Aspirations: Alexis aspires to become a Psychiatrist.

College Undergraduate Success Program

CUSP (Comprehensive Undergraduate Success Program) was created to support UCAN college-bound youth. Each year, CUSP will provide support to two youth who have undergone a rigorous application process that includes an assessment of their skills in the following four areas:

Achievement: Motivated to grow and learn; engaged in learning experiences; decision-making skills; learning from one’s failures

Intention: Behaving with integrity; being honest; making responsible decisions and demonstrating the ability to handle responsibility; having a sense of purpose and a vision of what he/she would like to impact

Motivating Others: Passionate about advocacy; having the capacity to develop healthy relationships; valuing differences and similarities in people; understand the importance of resolving conflict peacefully; have influence over others

Empowerment: Understanding that one has some control over his/her environment, and how to use one’s voice responsibly


Da’Zhane Brown

Senior, Chicago International Charter School, Longwood Campus

Nominated by: Ashley Foster, UCAN Youth Development Specialist

Program Description: Counseling and Youth Development Services (CYDS)

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Youth Description: Da’Zhane Brown is primed and ready to not only become a future leader, but to also break down barriers that many African American youth face. This change agent has a keen understanding of the importance of making an impact and leaving a long lasting legacy from which others can draw inspiration. Her impact has been felt by her siblings, fellow classmates, by the homeless population, and those navigating mental health concerns, particularly within the LGBTQ community. Her unassuming, relaxed manner belies a level of focus, determination, and discipline that is phenomenal to behold.

Future Aspirations: After graduation, Da’Zhane plans to join the Marines and begin her college career.


Kareem Washington

Freshman, Augustana College

Nominated by: Andre Robinson, UCAN Workforce Development

Program Description: Workforce Development

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Youth Description: Kareem came to UCAN as a high school freshman who participated in our One Summer Chicago Program. This North Lawndale resident knew early on that he wanted to pursue a career in pharmacy. Now in college, Kareem has taken every opportunity to hone his knowledge and skill in this area. Beneath his soft spoken manner lies a resilient young man whose determination to succeed is unparalleled. This is evidenced by his commitment to his mother and siblings, and his choice of major at Augustana College, where he was recruited to join the wrestling team as a student athlete.

Future Aspirations: Kareem plans to continue his college career at Augustana College pursuing a degree in Pharmacy.

David J. Vitale, John D. Nichols Impact Award

David Vitale served as Executive Chair of Urban Partnership Bank from 2010 to January 2019. Mr. Vitale previously served as the President of the Chicago Board of Education from 2011 to 2015. He also held roles as Chief Administrative Officer of Chicago Public Schools, Chief Executive Officer for the Chicago Board of Trade, and Vice Chairman and Director of Bank One Corporation. David also serves as a board member at United Airlines Holdings, Inc, Ariel Investments, The Chicago Public Education Fund and Leadership Greater Chicago. He is a member of the board of trustees at Art Institute of Chicago, and Illinois institute of Technology.

David received his bachelor’s degree in History from Harvard University before relocating to Chicago for a position with First Chicago. He received his master’s degree in business administration from University of Chicago. David and his wife Marilyn serve on UCAN’s President’s Board and are well regarded throughout Chicago’s philanthropic communities.