Fueling intelligence.
Driving excellence.

From passing curiosity to lifelong passion, SQ Scholars unleashes Chicago’s highest young achievers. Rigorous academic standards balanced with programs for personal growth lend to students’ self-awareness, leadership, and lifelong skills. In advocating for themselves, taking risks, and making connections, students gain confidence to take on the world.

About The Program

SQ Scholars is a five-year, selective, competitive scholarship program that rewards academically promising, need-based students attending Catholic schools throughout Chicago. Affiliated with Big Shoulders Fund, the SQ Scholars program provides life-changing opportunities, including:

  • Academic enrichment from eighth grade through high school
  • Personal and professional coaching and development
  • High school and college/career planning, test preparation and guidance
  • Generous financial support

SQ Scholars Process

Beginning in the summer prior to eighth grade, students participate in SQ PREP, a two-phase selection process that nurtures intelligence, confidence, and curiosity. Those who move on to become SQ Scholars enter high school with continuing resources and support, earning awards for high school tuition (renewable annually) at a Big Shoulders Fund High School.*

Besides the economic advantage, students benefit from:

  • Small group interactions
  • Caring, motivating teachers and mentors
  • Creative thematic programs, guest speakers, outings, and other projects
  • Personalized attention to each student’s personal, academic, and career potential
* SQ Scholars are eligible to continue in the program even if they choose to attend a CPS selective enrollment or selective charter school. The same academic/performance requirements apply upon annual scholarship renewal.


Judith Stern Friedman
Executive Director

Judy Friedman plans, manages, and administers SQ Scholars programming, with emphasis on academic components that lend to students’ college and career readiness. Judy’s multi-faceted background in teaching, writing, and college prep intersect at the premise that literacy is a springboard.

Outside of SQ Scholars and for nearly 10 years, Judy has designed, fine-tuned, and taught the core writing course at DePaul University's College of Communication. In 2010, she was honored as a Women of Spirit & Action and was nominated for an Excellence in Teaching award. She funnels her passion for writing through her private ACT Reading and English tutoring, essay coaching, and writing enrichment practice—reaching students from Chicago’s North Shore to the South Side and beyond.

As a freelance copywriter, Judy has won sales and marketing awards and has been widely published in Better Homes & Gardens magazine and book publications. Judy earned bachelor's and master's degrees in advertising from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Howard Friedman
Administrative Director

Howard is responsible for “behind-the-scenes” details that make SQ programs run smoothly and efficiently. From managing scholar applications and records to arranging contracts, technology and transportation, Howard manages SQ Scholars’ business functions. Nearly 30 years of sales and management experience lend to his pragmatic operational approach. Howard has consulted with families in the college application process, with particular focus on making financially wise choices, seeking and applying for scholarships, navigating FAFSA, and other financially related college planning. Howard holds a bachelor’s in marketing degree from Western Illinois University.

SQ Advisory Board

Beginning with its visionary founders—Lou Simpson and Kimberly Querrey (the “SQ” in the organization’s name)—SQ Scholars represents a circle of frontrunners and educational advocates who simply want to help students succeed.

Individually, SQ Advisory Board members are leaders and game-changers in their fields of business, administration, education, research, and other disciplines. Collectively, they provide an impressive reservoir of information, insight and connections that help drive SQ Scholars’ emphasis on excellence.

Susan Altfeld

Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
School of Public Health, University of Illinois at Chicago

Sallie DeAngeles

Scholarship Administration, Mentoring, Parent & Community Development

Stacy Friedland

Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) in Lake County, Active Community Leader & Volunteer, Attorney at Law

Will Kartsimas

College Kartcierge, Academic Advising, College Planning & Scholarship Support

Dennis Kessler

Midwest Family Business Advisors and former Co-President of Fel-Pro

Teresa Mastin

Chair of the Department of Advertising and Public Relations and Full Professor
College of Communication Arts and Sciences, Michigan State University