TOLEDO, Ohio — Local students got a life-changing surprise Wednesday. A former Ottawa Hills man offered to pay for them to go to college.

It’s a life changer for many northwest Ohio high schoolers and their families -free college tuition, thanks to a very generous donor.The H.O.P.E. program has made this possible for this spring's graduating class. H.O.P.E. is an educational funding program founded by Pete Kadens, an Ottawa Hills native.

His hope is to end poverty in generations through education. The high school says the amount donated could be in the million dollar range. 

This funding is for the 140 seniors who graduate before this August and who will attend a state accredited university, college, trade school or post-secondary education up to four and a half years. 

Their parent or guardian can have also have  their college tuition paid for in full, which is a really big deal.

‘"It takes the stress off of me so I won’t have to worry about stressing how I’m going to get the money," student Shilanea Ford said.

Students will have to fill out a FAFSA and first apply for available grants.
If this program goes well, it could continue next year as well.

Toledo Public Schools made the announcement during an assembly at Scott High School on Wednesday. 

Kadens is the donor behind the announcement. He grew up in Lucas County and now lives in Chicago, retiring at the age of 40. Kadens is a former CEO for Green Thumb, which is a national cannabis company.

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