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Colemans Donate $25,000 to CHANCE

October 18th, 2017

Wheeler Coleman, chairman of the NIU Board of Trustees and his wife, Sharon Coleman, a federal judge, made a $25,000 donation to support CHANCE scholarships at an alumni event in Chicago last week.

The McKinley “Deacon” Davis CHANCE Program offers the opportunity for students who show promise to succeed in college, despite limited preparation and resources. The program has grown from 56 students in 1969 to hundreds of students admitted every year.

After 50 years of service to students at the NIU campus – with more than 15,000 alumni – CHANCE is one of only a few programs of its kind in the state offering access to higher education. The program was created from the vision of NIU President Rhoten Smith, a champion of equal opportunity and social justice, and was founded by McKinley “Deacon” Davis, once a Harlem Globetrotter and a former executive director of intercollegiate athletics at NIU.

Wheeler Coleman, a 1983 Northern graduate, said CHANCE made a college education attainable for him and helped him succeed. Coleman has held executive-level positions with Blue Cross Blue Shield and is the CEO of EC United, a Chicago-based executive consulting firm. Sharon Coleman graduated in 1981 from NIU and is a federal judge in the Northern District of Illinois.

“I know that as an alumnus and as a trustee, I don’t stand alone,” Wheeler Coleman told the DeKalb Daily Chronicle. “I am standing on the shoulders and in the footprints of those who came before me – giants who opened doors and created opportunities for people they didn’t know. And it reminded me that we all have an obligation to give back.”

At the alumni event last week at Gallery Guichard in Chicago, the Colemans presented their $25,000 donation and challenged alumni to contribute to the general scholarship fund or special scholarships for students benefiting from CHANCE and diversity resource centers. To make a donation that is right for you, please visit