Jul 26, 2018

Press contacts:
Office of Communications – Chicago Housing Authority
Molly Sullivan: (312) 786-3344; msullivan@thecha.org
Matthew Aguilar: (312) 935-2646; maguilar@thecha.org

CHICAGO (July 26, 2018) – The Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) and executives of The Michaels Organization, along with 27th Ward Ald. Walter Burnett, 3rd Ward Ald. Pat Dowell and 28th Ward Ald. Jason Ervin, celebrated 15 CHA residents and Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) participants at Savoy Square Wednesday who were part of 27 public housing college scholarship recipients from The Michaels Organization Educational Foundation.

The Michaels Organization Educational Foundation is a non-profit affiliate of The Michaels Organization, the private sector partner of CHA on the development and management of Park Douglas, Legends South, and Westhaven Park - all former public housing communities now transformed into modern, sustainable affordable housing.

In total, the Foundation awarded more than $750,000 in college scholarships to public housing residents Wednesday.

“Because of these scholarships, these students will be able to attend some of the best colleges in the nation,” said CHA CEO Eugene E. Jones, Jr.  “That’s the purpose of CHA: to help residents on the road to self-sufficiency so that they can go on and accomplish big things in their lives. Together, we are making sure that tomorrow’s leaders are achieving their goals today. We’d like to thank the Michaels Organization and Interstate Realty Management for helping our youth achieve their goals.”

John J. O’Donnell, Chief Executive Officer of The Michaels Organization, said: “It’s a privilege for our organization to be able to invest in the education of our residents. Giving back to the communities where we work has always been embedded in our corporate culture, and it is an essential part of how we create communities that lift lives.”

The scholarship will come in handy for Silvia Lepe of Gwendolyn Place. She lived with her grandmother when she was young and was responsible for her medical care, developing a fascination for medicine as she accompanied her to surgeries and appointments. Now she will use that passion to help others. She will study pre-medicine starting this fall.

“It helps me focus more so that I won’t have to work hours to pay off debt,” Lepe said. “Getting support from other organizations pushes me to make a better future.”

Earneisha Banks of Westhaven Park will also be pre-med starting this fall at Illinois-Urbana Champaign. After a harrowing injury as a child that took away her ability to walk, Earneisha underwent extensive physical therapy. She eventually overcame this seemingly insurmountable obstacle and is now able to walk again.

She, too, is thankful for the scholarship.

“It helps me focus on education and not have to worry about the financial portion,” Banks said. “It has been a relief. Otherwise, I would have been working to pay for school.”

Awards provided by partners like The Michaels Organization are one way CHA supports college-bound youth. In addition, CHA’s Scholarship Program awarded 235 college students attending 105 universities nationwide $265,000 in scholarships last year; and Partners in Education that supports residents attending City Colleges with tuition, books and fees, and saw 89 students earn associate degrees last year – the most ever.

As a result of these programs, more than 7,500 CHA residents are enrolled in colleges across the country. Further, CHA residents have received 2,417 college degrees in 2016 and ’17. And over the past five years, more than 80 percent of students receiving a CHA Scholarship remained enrolled or have graduated.