A message from Chris Britt, Chime CEO and co-founder
We started Chime to improve financial services for everyday people. Our idea was simple. If we could reduce stress around money, our members would have a better chance to thrive and live better lives.
Today, we’re taking another step to help unlock financial progress with the launch of the Chime Scholars Foundation (CSF). CSF will fund college and other post-secondary programs for those with a passion to pursue a brighter future through higher education. Our scholarships are designed to lend a hand to ambitious, everyday people so they can pursue careers without the heavy debt burden facing so many graduates.
Accessing Education – My Story
I grew up in Mount Vernon, NY, a working-class city that bordered the Bronx. With divorced parents struggling to provide for me and my siblings, it was our neighbor in the apartment below us, a WWII veteran named Joe, who stepped in to help. While my mom worked a variety of jobs, it was often Joe who made sure I got to practice, ate dinner, and did my homework, while still finding time for us to watch the Yankees highlights at the end of the day.
As a Little League player, I remember winning my team’s “Heart and Hustle” award. While I initially saw it as a consolation prize, Joe was thrilled and insisted it was the highest honor to earn on a team. I didn’t get it at the time – but I do now. Joe was everything to me – my surrogate grandfather and my best friend.
Life was tough in my neighborhood sometimes. Our schools weren’t great and when they got worse, my mother, a former elementary school teacher, decided to apply to a private school. Even with a scholarship, my family couldn’t afford to send me. Fortunately, Joe realized this and generously offered to pay the difference. Later, when I received a partial scholarship for college, once again Joe stepped up and paid the balance of my tuition. Thanks to this incredible man, I was able to get a great college education and kick off my professional career without the stress of student debt.
To say Joe was a blessing is an understatement. He taught me the importance of loving your family unconditionally, staying positive, working hard, and giving back when you can. It was his generosity and support that helped inspire the approach to CSF.
Chime Scholars Foundation
Higher education is one of the most powerful engines for economic mobility. With CSF, we aim to expand access so that others have the same opportunity I did. After all, we live in a country with a shrinking middle class and with more than half of American households living paycheck to paycheck. We also know that people with higher education or training earn nearly 2x over their lifetime than high school only graduates and are half as likely to be unemployed.1,2
Too often, our post-secondary education system fails us. College tuition costs have far outpaced wage growth and inflation over the past few decades, making it out of reach for many. For those who do pursue a degree, more than half end up with crippling debt for years to come.3,4 For others, a four-year program may not be the best path for success, but they too are left with few options.
This is why we created the Chime Scholars Foundation. Operating as a non-profit, CSF awards annual, renewable scholarships for students pursuing education after high school. There are two attributes that make CSF unique.
First, CSF is designed for any type of post-secondary education, including four-year university, community college, or even vocational training like nursing programs and other apprenticeships.
Second, we didn’t design CSF grants just for the star students with 4.0 GPAs and a long list of extracurricular activities. These kids often have opportunities for grants and scholarships from the schools they attend. CSF is specifically for everyday kids like me who have responsibilities at home, work hard, hustle, and yearn for something more in life. Many of these students just need a little financial support to jump-start opportunities.
While we are formally announcing the Chime Scholars Foundation today, I’m proud to report that CSF has already awarded more than 350 scholarships in our pilot program. Going into 2024, we plan on expanding the program by welcoming over 100 new scholars.
Our ambitions for CSF are high, and my co-founder Ryan and I are enormously proud and grateful to our board of directors, investors, and leadership team for pledging 1% of Chime Financial equity to fund CSF going forward. With this funding and our unique approach, I’m confident that the Chime Scholars Foundation will be a positive force in our communities for generations to come. To learn more or to apply please visit the Chime Scholars Foundation website.
If only Joe could see us now!