Today, the Charles Box Scholarships have been unveiled by the region’s leading private four-year institution, Rockford University. The program will help 30 Black students to pursue a business degree at the PURI School of Business over five years. The scholarships honor Box, a former Rockford Mayor, a trustee of Rockford University, and a committed lifelong community advocate.
Puri Foundation has pledged $250,000 that will leverage over $800,000 in tuition for the recipients. CEO of First Midwest Group and alumnus and Trustee Emeritus of Rockford University Sunil Puri founded the Puri Foundation. An estimated 12 students per year for five years will be awarded the Charles Box Scholarships.
The scholarships are designated for Black students pursuing a degree in business through the degree completion programs at the PURI School of Business at Rockford University. Dr. Eric Fulcomer, President, Rockford University said, “There’s no better person for these scholarships to be named after than Charles Box. His influence in our community, his dedication to pursuing justice, and his unrelenting passion for enhancing our world is significant.”
He added, “We are equally honored by the generous spirit that Sunil Puri continues to share with the community and our University. His inspirational contributions will make a lasting, positive impact on our students that will ripple for generations.” Box was elected as the first Black mayor in Rockford in 1989. He was re-elected for two additional terms.
At the time, Box won a greater percentage of votes than any Rockford mayor since the 1920s. Box is honored by this honor. He said, “I’m humbled by this honor and so appreciative of Sunil and Rockford University for setting a precedent for our community – and perhaps our world – by providing the opportunities for Black students to a pursue higher education.”