Shaka Rawls

Shaka Rawls

Shaka Rawls spent his life on Chicago’s South Side, attended Leo High School, taught in Chicago Public Schools and became principal of his alma mater. He’s overseen a 65% rise in enrollment and 21% boost in test scores at Leo. He knows what the right educational fit means for his 44 students from low-income families able to attend Leo thanks to Invest in Kids scholarships. He also knows what it will mean for those students if state lawmakers let the program die.

“As an energetic young man, I needed smaller class sizes and Leo’s faith-based college preparatory curriculum to be successful in life, and in school. There are many great schools in Chicago, but Leo was the right school for me.”

“The brotherhood and strong alumni support I had through Leo gave me the opportunity to go to college and become a teacher.”

“The young people on these scholarships now are just like I was – wanting something different, wanting a school that’s the right fit, wanting an opportunity.”

“I work every day to make sure Leo continues to offer those pathways for the young men of Chicago. But first they need the door opened for them, and the tax credit scholarship opens doors.”

“A lot of people don’t understand the impact these scholarships have on the African-American and Latino communities. So many families don’t have the financial means to afford schools that fit their needs.”

“Before Leo, I worked in Chicago Public Schools for 15 years. This isn’t either-or. It’s not us versus them. This conversation is in tandem with the work that Chicago Public Schools is doing and needs to do.”

“Public and private schools have existed side by side in Chicago for years. There are different types of schools providing different services because there are different students who need different resources. Once we understand that education needs dexterity, we will be much more successful.”

“My life’s mission is to help young men get off to a good start in life, but I’m only one person. A small school like Leo works through generous support and financial assistance like the tax credit scholarship program.”

“The power of these scholarships can’t be summarized in rhetoric or legislation. The power and potential reside with the young people.”

Shaka Rawls
Principal, Leo High School
Chicago, Illinois

Want more? Get stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.

Thank you, we'll keep you informed!
Keep scrolling for more inspiring stories

Have a story to share?

Tell us how a state or local policy affects your life.
If we decide to feature your story, one of our writers will reach out to you directly.