From WBEZ 91.5 Chicago:
Cassandra Jones has a goal: to be the first person in her family to graduate from college.
Currently, Jones is studying communications at Harold Washington College, a two-year community college located downtown and part of the City Colleges of Chicago. She plans to transfer to a four-year university to study media production.
“One of the things I struggled with was feeling secure in my choice of school, not really the college I choose but mainly the career path I want to go down because growing up I heard a lot about how creative careers aren’t the best career to get into,” said Jones, 20, a fashion blogger with a YouTube channel called The Fashion Sovereign.
Jones gets guidance from Project S.O.A.R., a program for Chicago Housing Authority residents — ages 14 to 20 — at 18 CHA properties. It’s a tutorial and mentorship program providing youth with one-on-one coaching to support their post-high-school plans. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) piloted the two-year program at $453,000. Thus far, the program has helped 286 CHA youth, like Jones. Now that the HUD funding has ceased, CHA is continuing Project S.O.A.R. and expanding it to anyone within the that age group living in a traditional CHA property.
“Overall, it’s been a really beneficial addition to my life,” Jones said. “It’s helped me to make the college process easier. When I started out, I didn’t know about community colleges, and it helped with the financial aid process.”
Read WBEZ 91.5 Chicago's article "Project S.O.A.R. Helps CHA Youth Reach New Heights," featuring the Chicago Housing Authority.