Dr. Gussie M. Ware

Dr. Gussie M. Ware Memorial Scholarship

Supporting resourceful Black women beginning their educational journey.

Winter Scholarship - Closed Closed This scholarship is part of the Winter application cycle. The application is open December 1st to February 1st every year. How to Apply

Eligibility Criteria

Applicant must:

- Be a Black female.
- Be a graduating high school senior or GED recipient starting post-secondary education for the first time.
- Currently reside in Winnebago County OR be a relative of Dr. Gussie M. Ware.


Academic performance will be given moderate consideration in the selection process.

Written Prompt

Each CFNIL scholarship is created with a specific purpose in mind. As you complete the application, the system automatically matches you with every scholarship for which you are eligible and will present you with a specific written prompt for each. You're encouraged to craft a unique response to each prompt to show the reviewers why you're the best candidate for that scholarship. 

Scholarship Background and Intent

December 22, 1920 – June 23, 1998

Gussie Mae Ware was the 13th child born to Edward and Ida Ware in Kingston (Shreveport), Louisiana. She was a graduate of Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, Alabama; the University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois; and Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois, where she earned her Doctorate in Early Childhood Education.

During her years at Tuskegee, Gussie recalled that scholastic financial help for young women was almost non-existent, so she chose to assist young Black women in their quest for higher education by setting up a scholarship fund through the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois and the Rockford Association for Minority Management (RAMM).

Gussie Ware was energetic and resourceful. While completing her doctorate, she also taught school, owned and managed a Laundromat in Chicago, and still found time to swing by Rockford to visit relatives. She had a passion for education but also enjoyed the arts, theatre, jazz, children, family, animals and the city of Chicago –especially Lake Michigan. She was a patron of, and participated in, many community and civic endeavors in the Chicago area including the Chicago Urban League, Museum of Science & Industry, Field Museum, DuSable Museum, Shedd Aquarium, Brookfield Zoo, the Art Institute and others. She was a member of Phi Delta Kappa and Coppin Memorial AME Church in Chicago.

Even though she had no children, Gussie shared her love with children during her many years as an elementary school teacher in the Chicago school system. She decided to further her education and move to the college level, as she stated, “when I no longer felt like skipping rope with the kids at recess or going out in the rain to look for earthworms.” She retired from Northeastern Illinois University as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Early Childhood Education. Many of her elementary and college students kept in touch with her over the years as a result of the positive impact she made on their lives.

Gussie Ware was a world traveler and adventurer. She cherished such experiences as wading in the Nile, riding bareback on an elephant, taking cruises to pet baby whales, and staying with a family in a remote part of Brazil to learn the language first-hand. As a result of her never-ending zest for life, she qualified for a student pilot’s license as a young woman and learned to ride a bicycle and motorcycle and ice skate after age 50. A few broken bones along the way did not daunt her spirit.

Ongoing challenges included learning to play the piano and, during her later years, struggling with the computer and other technologies. Her unfulfilled dream was to write children’s books. She had compiled many notes over the years and developed a comprehensive library.

Two of her philosophies were to always continue learning and to always save a portion of whatever she earned. She maximized her savings by learning about the stock market and investing a portion of her earnings. Her legacy through this scholarship fund is a result of her hard work, philosophies and beliefs.

Everyone who knew Gussie Ware benefited from her ready smile, upbeat personality and genuine concern for others. “Gustavia”(as she dubbed herself later in life) passed away in Rockford, Illinois on June 23, 1998, approximately 15 months after being diagnosed in Chicago with ovarian cancer. Throughout her illness, she held fast to her faith in God and her positive, “can-do” attitude inspired all who came in contact with her.

(Prepared by Helen Ware –May, 2000)