What is the Dunham Education Scholars Program?

With generous support from the Dunham Fund, North Central College established the Dunham Education Scholars program for students from the greater Aurora area with a declared major in education and a desire to return to the Aurora area as dedicated teachers. The program provides a $25,000 scholarship, mentoring, networking and field experiences in Aurora schools – all designed to launch our Dunham Scholars into a successful teaching career in the Aurora area.

Who is eligible for the Dunham Scholarship?

Students applying for the Dunham Education Scholarship must:

  • Reside within the Dunham Fund service area (bounded on the north by Illinois State Route 38, on the south by U.S. Route 34, on the east by Illinois State Route 59 and on the west by Illinois State Route 47)
  • Be an education major and commit to teaching in the Aurora area after graduation
  • Receive 22 or above on the ACT (with writing) OR 1110 on the SAT (with writing)
  • Have a minimum cumulative high school GPA of 3.0

dunham service area

Benefits of being a Dunham Education Scholar


  • An annual scholarship award of $5,000 for first-year and sophomore students and up to $7,500 for juniors and seniors
  • Additional scholarship funds for students interested in pursuing a bilingual endorsement
  • Reimbursement of state-mandated test fees for education majors
  • Individualized guidance from the program coordinator and peer support group

More benefits


  • Access to a North Central College alumni mentor who is a professional educator in Aurora
  • Regular professional and personal development workshops with expert speakers on topics like loan forgiveness for teachers, organization and planning, resume development, technology, networking, interviewing and time management
  • Opportunities to attend professional conferences
  • $1,000 stipend for classroom materials as a first-year teacher at a school within the Dunham Fund service area
teacher and students

About the Dunham Fund


The Dunham Fund of Aurora was established in 1996 to honor the legacy of John C. Dunham, who graduated from West Aurora High School and attended North Central College. He had a dream of “making the world a more comfortable, safer place for mankind to live and prosper.” Widely known and highly respected as a champion of enterprise and education, Dunham conceived the philanthropic direction for the Dunham Fund, which is to support organizations that are engaged in providing education and assisting individuals from the greater Aurora area.

student in class

Learn more by checking out our brochure


Student testimonials

Courtney Blake ’12 Phelps

Teacher, Rollins Elementary School


“As an Aurora resident, it was an honor and privilege to be awarded the Dunham Scholarship. This scholarship allowed me to complete my dream of becoming an educator in my hometown. As a Dunham Scholar and North Central College alumna I’ve been fortunate to be given the opportunity to give back to my community as a teacher. It’s been a great honor to be a part of the Dunham Scholarship tradition and East Aurora High School District 131.”

Juan Sanchez ’20

Music Education


“The Dunham Scholars program has been one of the most enriching programs I’ve come upon at North Central College. It has provided very generous financial aid that has allowed me to focus my time and energy on supplemental material that will further my skills in teaching. To be able to give back to the community I love is amazing, to be rewarded for it is something special.” 

Guadalupe Escobedo ‘14

Teacher, Hunt Club Elementary School


“I am confident that I am making a difference in someone’s life and I owe it to the many opportunities I received as an undergraduate at North Central.”

Mayra Rios ‘20

Secondary Education


“I am incredibly grateful for all the opportunities given to me through the Dunham Scholarship. I especially love how I get experience in the Aurora schools I grew up attending, and giving back to the community is one of the greatest rewards. Along with that, the program has so many passionate and driven individuals who I’ve been lucky to get to know and work with.”

Arabia Patino ‘20

Secondary Education


“I am extremely thankful and honored to be one of the recipients of the Dunham Fund Scholarship. Growing up in a less privileged community has not only offered financial challenges, but has also helped me realize the worth of a college education. It’s a blessing to be part of the Dunham Scholarship program and a relief to know that now instead of focusing on money I can focus on what is really important: learning.”


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teacher in classroom