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Charlotte Housing Authority Scholarship Fund marks 35th year
April 28 gala at Mint Museum Uptown
 
Published Thursday, April 26, 2018 7:44 pm
by Herbert L. White

Thirty-five years after an initial $300 gift, the Charlotte Housing Authority Scholarship Fund is still helping students graduate college.


The fund, launched in 1983 by housing authority youth services director John Crawford, is hosting its annual Believers & Achievers gala April 28 at the Mint Museum Uptown, 500 S. Tryon St. at 6:30 p.m. After-party festivities will start at 9 p.m. Proceeds from the gala will go to financial aid, mentoring and guidance programs for students.


CHASF will also honor longtime board member John Richards, Leon Levine Foundation and UNC Charlotte for their support.

The idea for CHASF started when Crawford helped a public housing student finish his studies at Winston-Salem State University. On the verge of dropping out for lack of money for his senior year, the student reached out to Crawford, who called a friend and together donated the money. The student graduated – making him the first of 232 scholarship recipients to do so.

“It kind of spurred this desire in [Crawford] to help other students he was working with that didn’t even consider going to college or a vocational certificate or degree because they weren’t financially able,” CHASF Executive Director Aisha Strothers said. “He wanted to make sure the youth of the Charlotte Housing Authority understood they didn’t need to have that as a barrier.”

Since then, the fund has awarded more than $3.3 million in grants for students who live in public housing communities or voucher programs such as Section 8. The Class of 2017 was CHASF’s largest with 30 graduates and 103 students earned scholarships during the academic year. Students must maintain a minimum grade point average of 2.0.

“The majority of our students are enrolled at four-year institutions,” Strothers said. “We do have a small percentage of students who attend vocational schools or [Central Piedmont Community College].”

The fund is a vehicle to economic advancement, Strothers said. Charlotte is last among the 50 largest U.S. cities for economic mobility and the average public housing family income is $18,221, which makes education a vital cog in breaking poverty’s grip. In 2017, 1,314 high school students between ages 16-18 live in public housing.

“With the education made available to the students, that is one of the key pieces that people need in general, not just our students, but anyone in the low income situation to raise themselves out of poverty and increase their economic mobility,” Strothers said.

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