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Bronzeville, Near South Side

Cook County Aims To Bring More Doctors Of Color To Area With Scholarship Named For Country’s 1st Black-Owned Hospital

The Provident Scholarship Fund is accepting applications now through May 26.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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WASHINGTON PARK — A scholarship program named for the country’s first Black-owned hospital is devoting $1 million to current and future health care professionals from underserved neighborhoods and who are committed to bringing those skills back to their communities.

The Provident Scholarship fund will benefit 60 students across the Chicago area. It is supported by Cook County Health and the county’s Project Rainbow Initiative, which addresses barriers to education. Funding came from the Cook County budget as well as the Cook County Health Foundation, which is still accepting donations.

The scholarship offers three awards: the Health Professionals Scholarship for medical and dental students; the Allied Health & Undergraduate Scholarship for Allied Health and undergraduate students in select programs; and the High School Scholarship for Chicago Public Schools seniors at Career and Technical Education (CTE) schools pursuing post-secondary education in various health care disciplines, officials said. 

Applicants must be Cook County residents enrolled in a related field of study with a 2.7 GPA and demonstrated financial need. The scholarship cannot be renewed.

Thirty, $20,000 scholarships will be offered to health professionals. Twenty, $10,000 scholarships will be given to high school students and 10, $10,000 awards will go to Allied Health scholars.

Applications are being accepted now through May 26. Students can apply via the Cook County Health website and will need proof of citizenship, Cook County residency and school attendance, along with a Student Aid Report, two letters of recommendation and a personal statement.

For more information, click here.

Board President Toni Preckwinkle, joined Commissioners Dennis Deer and Bill Lowry, and Cook County Health President Israel Rocha to announce the scholarship Tuesday.

“With our sights set on creating a more equitable health care system that provides high-quality, culturally competent care for all, we must ensure that our health care workforce is reflective of our communities,” Preckwinkle said in a statement. “It is essential that we lift up students who may not have as many academic and economic opportunities and support their aspirations for a career in health care.”  

According to a 2019 report from the Association of American Medical Colleges, only 5 percent of the country’s doctors identify as Black.

“We hope to create a health care delivery system that is representative of the patients that we serve and the providers we care for,” Rocha said.

Provident Hospital, 500 E. 51st St. was founded in 1891 by Dr. Daniel Hale Williams. Owned and operated by Black leaders, Williams created an institution where physicians of all races could practice together, where Black nurses could be trained, and where patients of all demographics could receive care, according to an excerpt from a PBS feature on Black medical pioneers.

Dr. Williams also performed the first successful heart surgery in 1893 — observed by a team of both Black and white doctors.

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