A scholarship for Mather Students created and funded by Mather Alumni...
The Zeolite Scholarship Fund was created in the year 2000 to assist graduates of Stephen Tyng Mather Chicago Public High School with college tuition. These scholarships, funded by Mather High alums from the Graduating Class of 1964-65, represent a very rare kind of financial aid, that given only to the students of one particular high school. In comparison with most scholarships, which are open to all the students in Illinois or even the nation, Zeolite scholarships are relatively easy to win. Moreover, these awards are renewable for four years.
Back in the early sixties, a group of ten close friends - all students at Mather High School - decided to form a softball team so they could participate in the Mather Park summer league. After failing to convince the Culligan Corporation to sponsor their team and buy them jerseys, they decided to call the team the Zeolites after the name of a mineral water softener used by Culligan. While the Zeolites were never the success for which the friends hoped, the experience of pulling together as a team made their bonds grow stronger, until one of the ten suggested that, in order to make sure that they always stayed friends, they should all meet on the steps of the Museum of Science and Industry on January 1, 2000 at 12:00 noon. They weren't expecting the Apocalypse or a Y2K international computer malfunction, they just wanted to pick an easy place and an easy date to remember.
On the appointed day 37 years later, eight of the ten did indeed meet, and the story of their friendship and reunion made the Chicago Tribune. After reading the story, the Culligan Corporation decided to rethink their earlier decision and contacted the Zeolites to give them T-shirts.
The Zeolites on the steps of the Museum of Science and Industry
In addition, they offered to donate $2000 to Mather High School in honor of the group. The Zeolites matched the $2000 with funds of their own and gave a four-year scholarship worth $1000 a year to a Mather senior in May, 2000. They and over 100 of their classmates have been giving away scholarships ever since.
The students at Mather High School in the early 1960s were in many ways similar to the students at Mather today. The Mather Park neighborhood was then a working class area. For most of the students of that era, if their parents weren't immigrants, then their grandparents were. Some of the students' families had survived the Holocaust; all had lived through the Great Depression. To become wealthy or famous in a new country was difficult then as now, and the parents of the Class of 1964-'65 typically took unremarkable jobs in the Postal Service, factories and offices, or as tradesmen or salesmen. But their lives were full of hope for their children's future and their children were getting the benefit of a free education at a school where many of the graduates planned to attend college.
One of the reasons that the Class of 1964-'65 has given so generously to the Zeolite Scholarship Fund over the years is that they recognize the importance
The Zeolites at Maggiano's Restaurant, January 1, 2000
of that education. Class of 1964-'65 graduates of Mather High became university professors, doctors, lawyers, scientists, teachers and small business owners. A college education helped these alums contribute to society, fulfill their aspirations, and live out the unfulfilled dreams of their parents.
This, then, is what the Zeolites have established as their goal - that the values of hard-work and perseverance in the current student body of Mather High should be rewarded; they want to help those students achieve as much as their talent and effort will allow, unfettered by financial need.
A word to today's Mather students: The Zeolite Scholarship Fund exists only because the Class of 1964-'65 trusts you to excel, just as they did. Your future is as bright as your imagination, hard work and intellect can make it. The Zeolite Scholarship Fund wants to help make that future become a reality.