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The Puri Foundation Donates for Creation of Charles Box Scholarship

The Puri Foundation, an affiliate of First Midwest Group, was founded in 2014 by Sunil Puri. Mr. Puri, who is also the CEO and Founder of First Midwest Group, was empowered by current global conversations on race and racism. Sunil and his son, Ashwin Puri, worked with Rockford University to create the Charles Box Scholarship. This scholarship will provide full tuition coverage to 30 Black students attending the Puri School of Business who are from the Greater Rockford Region over the course of the next 5 years.

(RRStar, Jul 14, 2020, Corina Curry)-Former Mayor Charles Box regaled area dignitaries Tuesday afternoon with stories about growing up in Rockford, the son of parents who worked hard and owned their own businesses but never graduated from high school.


Box’s father owned and operated a service station, a grocery store and then a restaurant in the Forest City, and those businesses not only provided Box and his brothers and sisters with a good life and a good education but taught them the power of hard work.


Box took those lessons to Dartmouth College, the University of Michigan Law School, a legal practice in his hometown and eventually the eighth floor of City Hall, where he served three terms as the city’s first Black mayor.


Now, thanks to a $250,000 donation from Rockford businessman and philanthropist Sunil Puri, Box’s name is on a series of scholarships to Rockford University’s Puri School of Business that will be made available to 30 Black students from the Rockford area over the next five years.

Rockford University and Puri announced the launch of the Charles Box Scholarships on Tuesday afternoon.


The scholarships are Puri’s response to a call to action to address systemic racism in the United States.


Puri said he felt compelled to do something after watching protests envelop the country in the days and weeks following the death of George Floyd. People across the country took to the streets to demand justice and an end to police brutality and racism.


“I’m an immigrant and a person of color. I know what it feels like to just get that far,” Puri said. “I’ve been here for 41 years. It’s changed, but not that much.”


The program offers scholarships to Rockford University’s business school so more Black residents can be in control of their own destiny.


“While we’d all love to have more educated, competent African American employees, I think it’s time to have African American employers, and that is what a business degree will allow you to take from here,” Puri said.


“It will allow you to be an employer and not an employee so you can have generational wealth that you can pass along and lead by example as mentors for many more that are coming behind you.”


Puri urged other area business leaders to answer the call to action. “You have to lead with action,” he said. “Let’s do something.”

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