Mayra Fajardo recently graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). She earned a double major in psychology and criminology/law, with a double minor in history and Spanish. Having navigated high school and college as an unaccompanied student, Mayra is passionate about using her skills and experiences to help others.
Born and raised in Chicago, Mayra moved with her family to Ecuador at 15. A year later, she made the difficult decision to return to Chicago alone to pursue better educational opportunities. Her goal? To provide hope and support for her mother and younger sister.
Last week marked the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year for Chicago Public Schools (CPS). Suburban school districts also started school in recent weeks. After the difficulties and barriers families and students faced over the last two years due to the pandemic, it is more important than ever for schools to identify and support students experiencing homelessness.
Daihana Estrada, a recent graduate from Loyola University Chicago School of Law, is no stranger to the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. In fact, she has been involved with CCH for more than a decade, as a scholarship winner, an intern, an advocate, and a member of the scholarship selection committee.
She also recently raised $1,890 for CCH through an online fundraiser, garnering support from 65 people from around the world.
Today, Daihana is a first-year attorney, working as a judicial law clerk in Minnesota. Hers is a journey more than 12 years in the making.
Many students experiencing homelessness would like to pursue higher education but face many barriers, including unstable housing, hunger, and lack of access to financial resources, that make going to college difficult.
Need based and merit based financial aid through the Free Application for Federal Students (FAFSA) can provide financial resources that allow students to access college. There are multiple ways that one can complete the FAFSA Application – online at studentaid.gov, through the myStudentAid mobile app, by printing a PDF version of the FAFSA Application and mailing it in, or by completing the application on the phone by calling 1-800-433-3243.
A new program will provide eligible CPS students with funding to assist with educational, living, and other expenses.
By Alyssa Phillips, Education Attorney
This week, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Interim Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Dr. José M. Torres announced the creation of the Chicago Families Forward Fund. It will provide a $500 microgrant to CPS students experiencing housing insecurity to assist with needs that families and students are facing.
This funding is critical and a step in the right direction as families and students experiencing homelessness have faced housing instability, job loss, loss of family members and serious health issues during the pandemic. All Chicago families and students need housing and other resources to succeed in school. The direct, flexible payments to CPS families and students experiencing homelessness will allow families and students to address a variety of unique and urgent needs.