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The origin of the Inner-City Education (ICE) Program is unique.  In 2002, a Chicago team of 13-14 year olds began its hockey season with a “0 & 6” record.  Through teamwork and persistence, the team finished the regular season with a winning record and went on to win the Illinois Northwest Hockey League, Division 3 Championship.  Apart from its record, this team was special: nearly half of the team lived on the impoverished West Side of Chicago in some of the poorest neighborhoods in the city. One player lived with his three younger brothers and their mother in very difficult circumstances.  Another player lived with his twelve siblings in a ramshackle building on the West Side.  A third has been homeless on occasion and another was a ward of the state.  All have a love of hockey.


Many of these players were introduced to ice hockey during the prior several years in a pick-up program in Garfield Park (Chicago).  Several of those children quickly developed a passion for the game and were invited to play organized hockey by Coach Brad Erickson.  While coaching this diverse group of student athletes, Brad recognized the need for, and first proposed the concept of, the ICE Program to Howard Birnberg.  Ultimately founded in 2003, the ICE Program now has student athletes attending highly regarded high schools. It is our goal to provide funding for the education of many more disadvantaged players.

About Us

"I am looking forward to my future and I am excited about helping to keep this program going for other children who also deserve an opportunity to get a good education." - Mark H.


Founder, Executive Director






Founder, Secretary







Our Mission




The Inner-City Education (ICE) Program is a Chicago-based 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit corporation.  ICE was established in 2003 to help low income children who play hockey obtain educational and athletic opportunities not otherwise available to them.


  • Educational Scholarships

    The ICE Program provides scholarships for Chicago area grade school, junior high, high school or undergraduate college students seeking to receive a tuition-based education. To be eligible for a scholarship, the student must be actively playing ice hockey, demonstrate financial need, maintain a 2.0 grade point average (on the standard 4.0 scale), possess a satisfactory disciplinary record, and demonstrate a strong personal character.  Each scholarship recipient and guardian must execute an undertaking, which includes a commitment to work or perform community service for a minimum of 80 hours during the summer prior to each and every scholarship year and to verify such performance, and a commitment to authorize the release of relevant academic and behavioral records to the ICE Scholarship Committee.

  • Mentor Program

    The ICE Program is launching a mentoring program in 2014 designed to enhance each scholarship recipient's experience. Each ICE Program Mentor provides a scholarship recipient with academic, professional and personal guidance / assistance from a trusted adult, empowering him/her to make positive life choices. Mentors act as a sounding board and support network for any issues the scholarship recipient may face at school or at home. Our Mentors monitor student academic and personal progress and report it back to the ICE Program board, allowing the board to be proactive in the event where additional help or support is needed. Further, each Mentor acts as a liaison between the scholarship recipient, his/her family, and the ICE Program Board of Directors, helping scholarship recipients feel like part of the ICE Program “family”. Mentors and scholarship recipients have opportunities to bond only in preplanned, board approved, group outings, such as hockey games, bowling or similar activities. In addition, the Mentors and their assigned ICE Program scholarship recipients maintain bi-weekly phone contact, providing a consistent check-in and opportunity for support.

    The ICE Program is looking for adult Mentors with an interest in academics, hockey and helping inner-city youths, who can fulfill this commitment for a minimum of one academic school year. All ICE Mentors are carefully screened. ICE Mentors are required to complete an application and pass a criminal background check. Potential ICE Mentors must also complete an interview with an ICE Board Member, provide a minimum of three references, and complete a mandatory training session before being paired with a scholarship recipient.

    Connect With Us To Become an ICE Program Mentor

  • ICE Program Hockey Club

    Beginning in 2015, the ICE Program Hockey Club will be on the ice from December 1st - February 29th.  The club will offer a beginner-level hockey program one weeknight and one Saturday morning every week at 3 different outdoor rinks (two in Chicago and one in Cicero) that will include an academic component.

    The practice schedule is currently tentative, but we're expecting to be on the ice early every Tuesday or Wednesday evening plus every Saturday morning at all 3 rinks.  The ICE Program will provide EVERYTHING a child needs to participate including uniforms, 100% of the equipment, skating instructors, hockey coaches, and academic tutors.  All student-athletes will participate in a mandatory one-hour academic session with approved ICE Program tutors either before or after every practice.  Any student-athletes currently attending under-performing schools will also be encouraged to apply for an ICE Program educational scholarship for placement into a local private school.

    Interested in volunteer coaching or tutoring?

    ICE welcomes coaching applicants with a lifetime of competitive hockey under their belts as players or coaches as well as those newer to the sport.  Similarly, we welcome academic tutors with lengthy careers in education as well as qualified individuals with no background in teaching.  We are open to male and female coaches and tutors, 18 and older, of any race.  We expect to have volunteers with varying backgrounds, but most importantly applicants should have a passion for improving the lives of low-income inner-city children.

    To implement this program most effectively, we ask that you complete the application that best suits your skill set and interest, whether as a skating coach, hockey coach or tutor.

    Each application will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis and if you are selected to volunteer with ICE you will be required to submit to a background check.  All on-ice coaches must be either USA hockey or USFSA certified before our season begins (ICE will reimburse certification costs).

    Volunteer Coach Online Application Links >>>

    Know a child that would benefit? Connect With Us

"Being introduced to Brad Erickson and learning about the ICE Program was the best thing that could have happened to me." - Spencer L.



Annual bowling fund-raiser with 2-time Stanley Cup Champion and Olympic Gold Medalist Brent Seabrook and the Chicago Blackhawks.


ICE has raised over $250,000  (so far)


Outdoor charity hockey game played by ICE donors and board members at Chicago's Soldier Field.


ICE raised over $10,000


Annual charity hockey game with our partners, the Chicago Blackhawks Alumni Association. Donors play with legends like Jack O'Callahan, Grant Mulvey, Cliff Koroll and more.


ICE has raised over $80,000 (so far).

"My parents and I are eternally grateful for everything ICE has done for us and for helping me continue my studies and move on to a better future."   - Brian M.

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or mail a check to:

Inner-City Education Program

c/o Paul Marobella

P.O. Box 64837

Chicago, IL 60664-0837

Academic Scholarships for Hockey Players of All Ages