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Eric P. Whitaker Scholarship Fund

Established 2016

Former U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Niger, Eric P. Whitaker

This scholarship is funded by Eric P. Whitaker, who received support from the then-Aurora Foundation in 1974 to attend the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.  He seeks to support others from the small village of North Aurora who graduate from West Aurora High School to develop themselves as citizens and professionals through full-time higher education obtained at a four-year institution within the State of Illinois.  The fund would provide $2,000 per year for two years of schooling in good standing.

Eric, born in DeKalb, Illinois, grew up on the campus of Northern Illinois University, where he attended the University’s laboratory school.  He subsequently attended North Aurora Elementary School, George Washington Junior High School, and West Aurora High School.

After graduating from the University of Illinois with a Bachelor of Science degree in general biology and an MS in community health education, Eric served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Philippines, working in community health.  After receiving an MPA from the University of Pittsburgh, he served as Assistant to the City Manager in Lodi, California for six years before joining the Department of State to serve as a Foreign Service Officer.

Having served in four regions (Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East), Eric now is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service and was acting Deputy Secretary of State for African Affairs at the Department of State in Washington, DC.  The Deputy Secretary of State for the United States administered the oath of office in a December 15, 2017 ceremony at the Department to serve as United States Ambassador to the Republic of Niger, a post held until December 1, 2021.  Ambassador Whitaker speaks six languages, earned an MPP degree at the Wilson School at Princeton University, and has earned thirteen superior and meritorious honor awards from the Department of State, as well as the Department of Defense’s Meritorious Civilian Honor Award.

The purpose of this scholarship fund is to support those students – one boy and one girl each year – from North Aurora who seek to attend one of Illinois’ fine public universities.  Recognizing that higher education costs are very high, even for in-state students attending public universities, the fund aims to reduce barriers to college entry and graduation while lessening future debt burdens.

A community foundation is a donor-driven organization that helps donors custom-design funds that reflect their charitable interests. Through the years, grants from these funds have made a significant impact on our local communities.

Sharon Stredde

President Emeritus

As a first-generation college student from a low-income family, I was worried about how I was going to pay for books and supplies. This scholarship will allow me to focus more on my studies instead of worrying about how to afford college. I am working to not only create opportunities for myself but to motivate future generations. Thank you so much for helping me along this journey!

Moises J.

Claude & Alice Allen Memorial Scholarship Recipient

There’s no question in my mind that the scholarship I received opened up possibilities.

Marianne Renner

Past Scholarship Recipient & Current Leadership Coach

…you can always start small, even $25 can make a difference. Remember we can’t take our money with us. Even if it’s just your gift of time. Volunteer and get involved.

Cris Anderson

Cristina & Thomas S. Anderson Endowment Fund | Tom & Cris Anderson Colonial Advisory Fund

We chose the Community Foundation because of its reputation. It’s well known, established and we can trust them to do the job for us.

Dick Schindel

Richard and Susan Schindel Scholarship Funds

Thank you very much for supporting my college education for these four years. I will never be able to repay you for the opportunity that this scholarship has given to me.

Julia H.

[Renewing Scholarship Recipient] Graduate of Hinkley-Big Rock High School

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