Chicago businessman surprises kids and their parents with free college pledge

·2 min read

Chicago businessman Pete Kadens appeared Sunday on 60 Minutes, where he spoke about his charity, Hope Chicago, which will cover the cost of in-state college tuition for thousands of underprivileged students and their parents in the state of Illinois. Kadens, who’s originally from Toledo, Ohio, was able to retire at the age of 40 after starting five companies and building his wealth.

“I’m a guy who got really lucky in life,” Kadens said. “I’m a guy who won a lot of lotteries: The birth lottery, the ZIP code lottery, the education lottery. And when I think about having won all those lotteries and all the people who are suffering, it’s my chance to give them those same opportunities. That’s who I am.”

On top of realizing the luck he’s had in life, Kadens admitted to feeling guilt over having built such a fortune while others who didn’t have the same opportunities as him suffer.

“I feel horribly guilty that I created this amount of wealth, and that so many people are still suffering,” Kadens said, later adding, “I just think that fundamentally, there is a misunderstanding in this country that college is accessible to everybody, and the fact is, no it is not.”

60 Minutes cameras caught the moment Kadens made the announcement to Johnson College Prep on Chicago’s south side. The crowd burst into applause, cheers and tears. Kadens went on to do the same at four other Chicago schools.

Kadens admitted that some people think that what he’s doing is crazy, but he’s well aware of the size and scope of what he’s undertaking.

“We will end up funding about 30,000 individuals to go to college or trade school in the city of Chicago,” Kadens said. “Over what period of time?” Scott Pelley asked. “Over the next decade,” Kadens responded. “That makes this the largest scholarship program in the country.”

60 Minutes airs Sundays at 7 p.m. on CBS.

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