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$1 million gift supports transformative scholarships

James T. Ryan, III and Michelle A. Ryan support scholarships for DePaul University students who graduated from Chicago Jesuit Academy

Students with the Ryans
Jim and Michelle Ryan and Provost Salma Ghanem, gather with recipients of the Ryan Family Scholarship from the Jarvis College of Computing and Digital Media. Pictured are Jim Ryan, sophomore ShaMarrion Adams-Morgan, Michelle Ryan, alumnus Curtis Dell, sophomore Darrell Jenkins and Ghanem. (Image courtesy of Jim Ryan)
CHICAGO — DePaul University Life Trustee James T. Ryan, III (MBA ’87) and Michelle A. Ryan have pledged $1 million to DePaul to fund student scholarships through the James T. and Michelle A. Ryan Family Scholarship. Established in 2017, the Ryan Family Scholarship Program offers recognition, financial assistance and support to high-potential incoming DePaul students who are graduates of the Chicago Jesuit Academy (CJA) and demonstrate financial need.

The scholarship provides full tuition, room and board to CJA alumni. Located in the Austin neighborhood on Chicago’s West Side, CJA is an academically rigorous, tuition-free school for grades 3 to 8, serving students and families from communities impacted by historical disinvestment. CJA follows its students and alumni from enrollment through the start of their careers, continuing to support them as they develop and grow.

“The opportunity for CJA alumni to attend DePaul is a life-changing experience,” Jim Ryan said. “The students and their families are grateful for the opportunity to earn a college degree and graduate with no debt. DePaul provides academic advising and life-skills mentorship to help CJA graduates navigate a complex and unfamiliar environment. That help has proven to be every bit as important as the financial assistance to ensure that the students are able to persist through their college experience.”

The Ryan Family Scholarship Program demonstrates the impact that generosity, compassion and support can have on the lives of students and their families, said DePaul President Robert L. Manuel.

“This generous gift from Jim and Michelle will be transformative for these promising students from Chicago, setting them up to succeed at DePaul and well into their future,” Manuel said. “I am grateful to the Ryans for their vision, support, and dedication to upholding DePaul’s Catholic, Vincentian mission by giving students the opportunity to reach their full potential.”

The gift furthers the Ryans’ support of DePaul. Jim Ryan, former chairman, president and chief executive officer of industrial supply company W. W. Grainger, was a valued member of DePaul’s Board of Trustees from 2007 to 2021 and served as chair from 2017 to 2020.

Michelle Ryan has been involved with CJA for more than a decade, beginning as a volunteer tutor for students who benefited from personalized attention. She became involved with CJA’s College Persistence Program, working with alumni as they progress through their college careers, and has also served on the school’s board of directors and its governance, mission and identity committee.

“Through Michelle’s work with CJA alumni, we began to understand the challenges students from underserved communities face as they begin their college careers,” Jim Ryan said. “We felt the most impactful way to help was to create access to a high-quality college education with a scholarship program that includes academic, advising and life-skills support. Seeing the first of the Ryan scholars graduate DePaul in spring was a true honor.”

The Ryan Family Scholarship Program will continue to provide a growing number of students with the encouragement and support necessary for future success.

About DePaul University
DePaul University provides exceptional academics and real-world experiences to prepare students for a changing world. With more than 21,000 students across more than 300 academic programs, DePaul has two campus locations in Chicago. Students richly benefit from the city’s many opportunities. In turn, DePaul is one of the forces that shapes Chicago’s future. The university was founded in 1898 by the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentians), a Roman Catholic religious community dedicated to following the ideals of St. Vincent de Paul. DePaul is among the nation’s top universities for diversity because of its long tradition of providing a high-quality education to students from a broad range of backgrounds. DePaul is one of the largest private, nonprofit universities in the Midwest and one of the largest Catholic universities in the nation. Visit to learn more.

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