Timothy Avant used to live five houses down from the Truman College campus. Now, he’s a student at the college, preparing to become an early childhood educator tuition-free with the support of two scholarships: the Men of Color in Education Initiative and the Chicago Early Learning Workforce Scholarship (CELWS).

The former Broadway actor knew he wanted to come back to school but didn’t know how to pay for it. When he was awarded the scholarships, he was both relieved and excited to pursue an associate degree in early childhood education.

In fact, Timothy says the CELWS has changed his life for the better. The scholarship is a partnership between the Chicago Mayor’s Office, City Colleges of Chicago, Chicago Public Schools, and the Department of Family and Support Services that aims to support and prepare both current and future educators to work in Chicago Early Learning programs.

“[The scholarship has] taken care of all of my books, my classes, even transportation if I need it to,” Timothy said.

As he pursues his degree, Timothy has also found a community at Truman College. He says that mentors have helped him navigate his education and get ready for his next steps.

“This school has changed my life,” he said. “I recommend this school to anyone.”

Once Timothy earns his associate degree, he plans to work for Chicago Public Schools in a Chicago Early Learning program, one of the commitments of the scholarship. It’s a position he can’t wait to jump into.