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CUPPA Scholarships and Fellowships

Delivering inspirational learning experiences for students and recognizing contributions by faculty to continued scholarship are among the core values of the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs at UIC. One way CUPPA advances these values is through scholarship awards managed, administered or supported by the two academic departments and the nine college-based research centers.

UIC students are highly encouraged to learn more and pursue these opportunities.  Please contact the respective departments with questions or additional information or email

To make a contribution to one of our scholarship funds, please contact the CUPPA Giving Office at 312.413.8088 or

The Last Mile Fund for Undergraduates Heading link

Peter Skosey talks with a student and Thelma Jackson, former department assistant in Urban Planning and Policy.
CUPPA’s Last Mile Fund was established in January 2021 to provide much-needed scholarship support for CUPPA undergraduate students who are within 30 credit hours of graduation and in good academic standing, but have a financial hold on their account preventing registration for their final classes. There are various reasons why some of our students find themselves in this difficult financial predicament. Examples at CUPPA include: their part-time job being eliminated (especially evident during the pandemic); needing to quit their job in order to care for a sick family member; having simply exhausted student loans and other forms of financial aid; and, in one case, a student burdened by unexpected costs related to a home fire. Recognizing the need, the CUPPA Alumni Association devised a remarkable way to help these students. With significant support from its founding president and BNSF Railway, members of the Alumni Association have stepped up to endow the Last Mile Fund so that contributions made to the fund will continue to grow and provide emergency relief to eligible students in perpetuity. Please check application for information about deadlines.

The Anna B. Memorial Scholarship Award Heading link

Anna Bachman

The Anna B. Memorial Scholarship Award is an annual scholarship to honor the late Anna Bachman, MUPP student, who passed away on January 12, 2014.  She was a child of the universe and throughout her short life, Anna was unique in her continual efforts to be a better person – to be more understanding, more patient, more helpful to all individuals in her life.  According to Dr. Janet Smith, Anna’s major professor in the Urban Planning and Policy Department, “Anna’s commitment to affordable housing stems from a conviction grounded in social justice and the dignity of all human beings. She did not just believe that we needed more of it, but that it was foundational to a strong community and economy and our humanity.”

Darl Hall Scholarship Heading link

Darl Hall

Growing up in Urbana, Indiana, Darl Hall fell in love with trains. After one ill-fated summer working on an actual railroad while in college (turned out that riding the rails wasn’t quite the thrill he anticipated), he spent the rest of his life repairing model trains, channeling his excitement with all things trains into a lifelong passion project. Now, his daughter, Urban Planning and Policy PhD student Em Hall, is honoring his passion and its influence on her life into a new scholarship in his honor, reflecting the lasting influence that her dad’s commitment has had on her own career.

The Gao-Zhang Graduate Fellowship Fund Heading link

Shawn and Amy

The Gao-Zhang Graduate Fellowship Fund provides a fellowship to an Urban Planning and Policy graduate student every school year. The fellowship offers the student recipient a research assistantship and a full tuition waiver for the school year.

This fund was created in 2019 with a gift from alumni Amy Gao and Shawn Zhang, both of whom attended the MUPP graduate program with a fellowship in 1999. Amy and Shawn started a company together a few years after graduation. Their company, Spatial Front Incorporated, became one of the nation’s fast-growing private companies and was listed in Inc. 5000 in both 2018 and 2019. With a mission to address the nation’s most critical needs, their company provides technical solutions to its customers including multiple cabinet-level Federal agencies.  Amy and Shawn contribute their success to their education in UIC CUPPA and established the Fellowship as an endowment to promote innovative use of technology in urban planning.


The Gao-Zhang Geospatial Technologies Research Fund Heading link

The Gao-Zhang Geospatial Technologies Endowed Research Fund in the Department of Urban Planning and Policy, established in 2021 by CUPPA alumni Amy Gao and Shawn Zhang, will be used to elevate undergraduate, graduate, and faculty research. It will be used to utilize geospatial and related technologies such as the Internet of Things, virtual reality, and more in the department. Gao and Zhang are no strangers to philanthropic impact in CUPPA and faculty, staff, and students are extremely grateful. Gao and Zhang created an endowed graduate fellowship fund, The Gao-Zhang Graduate Fellowship Fund, in 2019 for the UPP Department, which has benefitted students, the department, and CUPPA research centers. Read more about the Gao-Zhang Geospatial Technologies Endowed Research Fund here.

The George Krambles Transportation Scholarship Heading link

George Krambles

The George Krambles Transportation Scholarship awards competition was established to honor the accomplishments of a legendary Chicago public transit leader. George Krambles, former executive director of the Chicago Transit Authority, served the region’s transit system for 43 years beginning with the Chicago Rapid Transit Company in 1937 as a student engineer. He graduated from the Electric Railroad Program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1936 and was a good friend and supporter of the UTC.

The annual competition is open to any Ph.D. or second-year Master’s degree candidate student within the UIC College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs, College of Engineering, College of Business Administration or School of Public Health who is studying transportation, or a UTC Graduate Research Assistant.

The Joe DiJohn Memorial Fund Heading link

Joe DiJohn

The Joe DiJohn Memorial Fund was established to remember a long-time UIC Urban Transportation Center researcher and lecturer who died March 19, 2011 of lung cancer. DiJohn is remembered by his colleagues for his mentoring of students and staff, prolific research, professional dynamism and sense of humor. “Someone like Joe only comes along once in a century,” wrote Steve Schlickman, executive director of the center, and Siim Soot, associate professor emeritus, in a message to CUPPA faculty, students, and staff upon Joe’s passing.

Before joining UIC, DiJohn had a long career with Chicago-area public transportation agencies. He was manager of the Regional Transportation Authority’s bus division, then supervised the restructuring of the RTA from an operating agency to a financial oversight and planning agency. He supervised the creation of Metra, the Chicago area commuter railroad, and Pace, the suburban transit agency, becoming Pace executive director. His academic career began in 1988, when he joined CUPPA as an adjunct lecturer. After retiring from Pace in 1998, he became associate director of research in CUPPA’s Urban Transportation Center at UIC.

The Rob Mier Scholarship Award Heading link

Rob Mier

Rob Mier, activist and professor of Urban Planning and Policy at UIC, died at the age of 52 as a result of exposure during the Vietnam War to the exfoliant, Agent Orange. Rob founded the Center for Urban Economic Development at UIC in 1978 to help communities help themselves through technical assistance and research.

Rob served as Chicago’s director of development under Chicago mayors, Harold Washington and Eugene Sawyer, and was the chief architect of the city’s highly regarded 1984 Chicago Works Together development plan, which emphasized jobs, neighborhoods, and the equitable distribution of resources and opportunities to combat racism and poverty.

Mier was a nationally recognized expert on urban economic development and equity planning and served as a consultant for numerous cities, including Oakland and Los Angeles, California, and Belfast, Northern Ireland. He published several books including  Social Justice and Local Development Policy (Sage Publications 1993). In the years preceding his death, his interests turned to regional antipoverty coalitions and global networking of equity planners.

The Rob Mier Scholarship Award is presented annually to a currently enrolled MUPP (Master of Urban Planning and Policy) student who exemplifies the qualities and commitment of the late Rob Mier, an activist and professor of urban planning and policy at UIC.

The Thelma Jackson Scholarship Award Heading link

Thelma Jackson

On November 2, 1999, then Urban Planning and Policy program secretary, Thelma Jackson, was recognized by UIC with hit’s highest employee honor, the UIC Award of Merit. To honor Thelma’s commitment to Planning students, CUPPA started the Thelma Jackson UPP Scholarship fund, a need based scholarship award for graduate candidates earning a degree in urban planning.

Thelma said, “I consider myself a service person. I love people. When you work with others, you always need to put yourself in the place of the person on the other end of the line. If I can help in some small way, that makes all the difference.”