Chicago City Day School Scholarships: One Parent’s Story

One dad shares why he pursued Chicago City Day School scholarships for his family, and the transformative education his kids are experiencing.

At Chicago City Day School, students thrive in a culture of immersive academic opportunities in a small, tight-knit community that challenges and supports all of its students. Through the generous support of the school’s trustees, Chicago City Day School, an independent JK-8 school on Chicago’s North Side, will offer a select number of merit-based scholarships for new students entering third through seventh grades in the 2022-23 school year.

“The Trustees Merit Scholarship Program is designed to help us reach a broader pool of families, families that otherwise might not consider a private school like ours,” says Head of School Chris Dow. “Since we launched the program in 2020, City Day has welcomed multiple outstanding students to the school community. These students have enhanced our school, and based on the feedback we’ve heard, the school, in turn, has had a positive impact on their lives.”

Mario Ramos, a scholarship recipient who has three children at Chicago City Day School, shared his thoughts about the positive impact of joining City Day.

‘The school that felt right’

In 2015, Ramos, his sons Mario and Matias, and his “better half” Rosa, who was pregnant with their daughter Mia, moved from south Florida to Naperville, seeking good schools for the whole family. “We were pleased with the educational experiences our children had within the public system,” Ramos says. Yet they continually dreamed about the benefits of private education for their children.

When the pandemic hit forcing schools into remote learning, 8-year-old Mario expressed a need for additional schoolwork, and shared with his father his frustration when his teacher said she couldn’t help.

“I realized that among the myriad problems everyone was facing everywhere, this one was in my court,” Ramos says. “I actively began my search to find better education alternatives for my children.” It was Mario who shared a magazine ad for Chicago City Day, and the description of “rigorous education and a culture of kindness” impressed Ramos.

“We jumped at the opportunity to apply for a Trustee Merit Scholarship from City Day. The school felt right to us,” he says. He was thrilled to eventually receive emails welcoming his children to the school.

“I was reminded of a quotation from Viktor E. Frankl, ‘What you have experienced, no power on earth can take from you.’ I realized I was witnessing one of the highlights of my life as a parent,” Ramos says. A further quote, “one who has a why to live for can endure almost any how,” helped Ramos quiet skepticism about uprooting the family from Naperville in favor of an unstable housing market in Chicago, he says.

What really helped ease the family’s storm of uncertainty was the overwhelmingly warm welcome they received from other City Day families, Ramos says.

“As the 2021-2022 academic year started, the storm weakened. That change was ignited by a series of unexpected emails from other Chicago City Day School parents, astonishing emails filled with love and kindness, and a pure attempt to embrace us as the new members of the City Day community,” he says. “At the end of the first week of school, my children told me how much they wished to have classes on Saturdays, too.”

Mario Ramos and his family. Photo credit: Mario Ramos.

City Day’s promise of a “rigorous education and culture of kindness” is real, Ramos says. “What we love about Chicago City Day School is that it remains true to its values and mission — educating children within a nurturing environment by perfectly blending a rigorous academic component and a student-centered approach,” he says.

Excellent faculty and staff make this happen through their caring approach and unwavering investment in student success. “I’m grateful for the constant emotional support and team-building mentality that students receive,” he says. An “impressive campus” and opportunities for cultural experiences broaden student learning. “In comparison to my formative years, I cannot imagine the impact of having Chicago as my own educational playground,” Ramos says.

“Last, but not least, we love the safe social-emotional environment provided by faculty, staff and peers,” Ramos says. “I often hear from Matias about how confident he feels when speaking in front of the class. Mia, meanwhile, enjoys performing small sonatas she learned in music class.”

Ramos offers his advice to parents seeking an excellent education for their kids.

“To those parents considering the scholarship opportunity at Chicago City Day School, I would honestly say that I understand that the most difficult decisions are the ones directly related to whom you love and care the most,” he says. “Like you, I am also deeply committed to my children’s success, and I am so happy to have found a school that supports them. I really hope to see you at City Day soon!”

Enthusiastic learners belong at Chicago City Day School

City Day leaders are both thankful and proud to offer scholarships that make the school’s unique programming, culture, and independence accessible to more students.

“Our board of trustees has taken a bold and forward-thinking step by creating this scholarship program,” Dow says. “As a nonprofit private school, we rely on tuition to sustain our education program. But we recognize that we are also part of the larger Chicago community, and that it is important to provide access to as many families as we can.”

The Trustees Merit Scholarship program is selective, designed to welcome accomplished, enthusiastic young people to the school community. Financial awards are based on need and can range from $500 to the full cost of tuition.

“When we evaluate scholarship applicants, we look at cultural fit in addition to academic fit,” Dow says. “We look for young people who are highly motivated and enjoy school. Any students who are bright and compassionate and eager to learn are right for our school. It could be anyone from anywhere.”

Annually renewable need-based scholarships for new students entering grades three through seven in fall 2022 are awarded through a qualifying exam on Feb. 12, 2022, at 10 a.m., followed by an interview with school leaders.

Learn more about Chicago City Day School at

Claire Charlton
Claire Charlton
An enthusiastic storyteller, Claire Charlton focuses on delivering top client service as a content editor for Chicago Parent. In her 20+ years of experience, she has written extensively on a variety of topics and is keen on new tech and podcast hosting. Claire has two grown kids and loves to read, run, camp, cycle and travel.
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