Justice Circle celebrates the Law Project’s 20 years

Twenty years of legal aid and advocacy by the Law Project at the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless were celebrated at a Justice Circle event, held March 2 at Chez-Chicago.

Law Project founding director Rene Heybach was honored, along with the Kirkland & Ellis law firm for years of pro bono and grant support, and Marilyn Escoe, a parent leader on the CCH Education Committee.

Two attorneys were honored as well: Andrew Shapiro from Butler Rubin Saltarelli & Boyd LLP and Sharlita Davis from JPMorgan Chase Bank. Both have given extensive pro bono services and served on the CCH Board of Directors.  Continue reading Justice Circle celebrates the Law Project’s 20 years

Temperance spoke up to secure a new home for her family

e-newsletter-photo-donateRebuilding your life after a setback takes determination. For Temperance Thomas, it helps to be open about what she’s been through.

“You got to tell your story or you’ll never get over it. I’m learning to do that,” she says.

With a family to raise, Temperance is determined to move forward. In two years, she has completed culinary training, found a new job, and joined the Reentry Project at the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.

Continue reading Temperance spoke up to secure a new home for her family

Jayme overcame homelessness – now she helps high schoolers do the same

Four years after graduating, Jayme Robinson is back at Schurz High School, helping students who are homeless like she was.

Jayme Robinson
Jayme Robinson

Jayme, 22, works for the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless as an AmeriCorps VISTA organizer. One of her projects is to mentor homeless students, including teens at her alma mater on the Northwest Side. Along with group meetings, Jayme talks one-on-one with teens about their lives and plans for the future.

“It’s difficult. I want to support them academically and socially,” said Jayme, “but how do you tell a 16-year-old with two jobs – who’s on his own – to stop working so many hours and do your homework?”  Continue reading Jayme overcame homelessness – now she helps high schoolers do the same

Taishi has found her public voice – now she’s a leader on her Local School Council

Taishi Neuman wanted to help other families coping with homelessness. First homeless herself at age 15, she experienced taishi bloghomelessness again after multiple sclerosis left her unable to continue work as a nursing home assistant.

Still, Taishi thought she was too quiet to speak up.

Then she met a community organizer from the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. He was running an outreach session, telling parents at her transitional housing program how they could work with the coalition to remedy school issues faced by homeless families.  Continue reading Taishi has found her public voice – now she’s a leader on her Local School Council

School fee waivers for homeless and low-income students

By Beth Malik

Associate Director of the Law Project and Youth Attorney
School FeeNow that spring has arrived, students in Illinois look forward to special school activities, including graduation, senior luncheons and end-of-the year field trips.

Every year the Law Project receives many calls from low-income students and families who are being pressured by their schools to pay hundreds of dollars in fees before graduation or year-end.

Yet under state law, many of these fees are required to be waived for students and families unable to afford them, including those who are homeless or low-income.  Continue reading School fee waivers for homeless and low-income students

Online applications now available for CCH’s $2,500 college scholarships

Each summer, the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless awards $2,500 renewable college scholarships to graduating seniors who experienced homelessness during high school.Website Module

Applications for 2016 are now available online. Due by Friday, April 15 (by 4:30 p.m.), the application includes two letters of reference.

Who’s eligible to apply? Graduating seniors from Chicago and suburban schools who were homeless at some point while attending high school, as verified by the student’s school. This includes unaccompanied youth who were living on their own without a parent or guardian. Youth leaders active with CCH also are eligible.

Following interviews, scholarships will be presented during an awards event in late June. Read more about our 2015 winners, selected from among 24 applicants.  Continue reading Online applications now available for CCH’s $2,500 college scholarships

One mom’s story about how HomeWorks would help

IMG_0779Ashley Crump and her children have lived the past few months in a South Side shelter. It isn’t easy, but it’s help the family needs and appreciates.

Because her home healthcare employer failed to pay its staff for weeks, Ashley needs a new job. Having worked full-time since high school, Ashley hopes her job hunt will work out soon. Still, she’s unsure when her family can move back into a home of their own.

“We had a place, but it was difficult to pay all the bills and for food. About 60 percent of my wages went for rent,” she explains.

Knowing what low-income families face, Ashley says she “jumped on board” to volunteer with the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. Ashley learned about CCH when she met Wayne Richard, one of our long-time organizers, during an outreach session at the shelter.

“I didn’t know there were so many people out there pulling and fighting and striving for the homeless,” she says.  Continue reading One mom’s story about how HomeWorks would help

Aja coped with being homeless while succeeding in school

Aja Lowrey is devoted to a mom who made her the priority, especially when things got tough – homeless tough.

Aja and her mom, Sherita, at the CCH Scholarship Award ceremony in June.
Aja and her mom, Sherita, at the CCH Scholarship Award ceremony in June.

The second time they were homeless was emotionally difficult for Aja, then a junior at Chicago’s Walter Payton College Prep. At her mom’s insistence, Aja stayed with family friends with a spare bed to offer. Her mom stayed in shelters.

Worried about her mother’s well-being, Aja says she cried every night. But they had no choice, Aja recalls, as her mom said “she wanted me to be safe” and Aja needed to maintain good grades at her top-ranked school.  Continue reading Aja coped with being homeless while succeeding in school

CCH names five new winners of $2,500-a-year college scholarships

Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) has awarded $2,500-a-year college scholarships to five students who succeeded in high school while coping with homelessness.

Also commended were 13 past winners, rising sophomores, juniors and seniors, who also receive $2,500 renewal awards. Thanks to donors who fund these scholarships, through the 2015-16 year, CCH will have awarded more than $235,000 to 50 students since 2004.

The 2015 winners are Catherine Jones, Aja Lowrey, Jennessa Martinez, and Amanda Sepulveda, all of Chicago, and T’Prinn Ingram of Aurora.  Continue reading CCH names five new winners of $2,500-a-year college scholarships

Low-income and homeless students qualify for school fee waivers in Illinois

Homeless and low-income students in Illinois qualify to have public school fees waived. If waived, a fee is not charged and the student does not owe fees to the school.

Yet every year, the Law Project gets calls from students and parents whose public school is pressing them to pay fees before graduation and the end of the school year.

A student or parent must file a written request to have fees waived. If a student qualifies for a fee waiver, school officials cannot bar a student from attending prom or graduation or obtaining transcripts – though some students who call for help have been incorrectly told this will happen if they do not pay.

Students and parents should phone the Law Project’s toll-free line if they need advice or free legal aid regarding school fee waivers: (800) 940-1119.  Continue reading Low-income and homeless students qualify for school fee waivers in Illinois