Seven students awarded $14,000 college scholarships by the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless this June are new high school graduates who live in Chicago, Joliet, and Tinley Park. CCH offers a renewable scholarship to students who succeeded in school while coping with homelessness. Twenty-one students will be assisted next school year, including five sophomores, five juniors, and four seniors.
A generous donation given in memory of the late Jill L. Meinzer has allowed CCH to increase its four-year college scholarship awards, to $3,500 a year. Jill’s family gave a $30,000 gift in her name in spring 2019. By early 2020, Jill’s family had made gifts to eight youth-serving programs, including a second substantial gift to the CCH college scholarship program. “Jill wanted to support youth in Chicago who want to get the education and training to further their lives,” said her sister, Karen Whitaker, an Indiana resident. She and Jill’s other two sisters and their parents planned the gifts in Jill’s memory.
A committee of parents and grandparents with lived experience of homelessness who have children and grandchildren enrolled in Chicago Public Schools (CPS) delivered a letter to Dr. Janice Jackson, CEO, and other leadership at the CPS and the city of Chicago. The letter expresses concerns the group has about this summer and the 2020-2021 school year. With schools closed, the last few months were extremely challenging and disorienting for children experiencing homelessness. Students experiencing homelessness will need robust and compassionate supports to successfully navigate the new school year.
The city of Chicago’s proposed investment in housing to curb the spread of COVID-19 among people experiencing homelessness falls $5 million short of the amount recommended by a group of public health experts focused on protecting that vulnerable population. Members of the Chicago Homelessness and Health Response Group for Equity (CHHRGE), a coalition that has helped identify and address COVID-19 risks threatening the homeless population, urged city officials to designate $21.9 million in existing federal aid to fund 1,750 units of “shield housing” – rental apartments reserved for victims of homelessness who are at high risk of succumbing to coronavirus infection.
Brandon Marks joined our community organizing staff this month. His work will focus on supporting and expanding the Homeless Prevention State Network in northern Illinois, with the primary goal of passing the Fair Tax ballot initiative in November. He has previously contributed to efforts to unionize the fast food industry through the Fight for $15. "I am inspired by CCH’s work on housing justice and I can’t wait to learn from the incredible community of staff, partners, and leaders," he said in his introduction on our blog.