In 2019, a report by Governing concluded a six-month investigation of segregation in downstate Illinois. According to the report, the Peoria metro area had the most segregated schools of any area nationally and one of the highest black poverty rates in the state. The report aptly identifies a key aspect of the city’s nickname that has come to symbolize segregation in the River City: The Illinois River. The report states: “In Peoria, the Illinois River is a 900-foot-wide chasm between poverty and prosperity. On one bank is the city of East Peoria, which is 92 percent white, with big-box retail stores including Costco, Target and a Bass Pro Shop just a stone’s throw from the river. On the west bank is the city of Peoria itself, just 57 percent white and becoming less so every year.”
Located at 1 College Drive on the East Peoria side of the river is the central campus of Illinois Central College. Mark Clark attended Illinois Central College shortly after its founding in 1967. Historically, community colleges have been the educational drivers of upward mobility. Offering flexible scheduling and varying curricular trajectories, from career training to transfer credits, community colleges provide an accessible and affordable alternative to a traditional 4-year college or university. However, approximately 74.9% of students identify as white among the student body at Illinois Central College, and only 11.4% of the student population identify as Black or African American. To honor Mark Clark’s life and legacy, a scholarship has been established in his memory specifically for students who identify as Black or African American: Seize the Time Scholarship in Honor of Mark Clark. This scholarship is both an attempt to minimize the economic barriers preventing Black and African American students from pursuing their educational goals at Illinois Central College while also rewarding and acknowledging ambition and excellence.
- $1,000 awarded annually to one individual
- Must identify as Black/African American
- First-generation college students will be given preference
- Any major
- GPA of at least 2.0
- Enrollment status full or part-time
- Financial constraints: need not considered
- Scholarship funds can be used for: tuition and fees, books and supplies, academic related expenses (transportation, babysitting, etc.)
Interested applicants can apply here.
Read more about the Illinois Central College Foundation here.
Read an article about the scholarship in Peoria Magazine here.