Student Scholarships and Support Grow in the South Suburbs

September 28, 2019 |

Thanks to a collaborative effort between the Housing Authority of Cook County (HACC), One Million Degrees (OMD) and local community colleges, 65 HACC residents and low-income students came together for the orientation of this year’s OMD program – a special program that provides scholarships and support to HACC residents and low-income individuals in south suburban Cook County.

“Here at the Housing Authority of Cook County, we firmly believe that when you combine stable housing with educational and economic opportunities, our residents have a chance to thrive,” said HACC Executive Director Richard Monocchio. “We’re excited to be continuing to move forward with this program and look forward to expanding in the years to come.”

The OMD Program accelerates community college students’ progress on career pathways to economic mobility through academic supports (one-on-one tutoring, GPA tracking, liaising with campus advisors), personal supports (monthly career coaching from a volunteer professional and intensive case management support from OMD Program Coordinators), professional supports (monthly professional development sessions on goal setting, career readiness, financial literacy, and leadership development), and financial supports (up to $1,000 per year in performance-based stipends, last dollar scholarships, and enrichment grants).

OMD’s collaborative effort with Housing Authority of Cook County (HACC) launched in 2016 to expand OMD supports to housing authority residents in the south suburbs – the first-ever collaboration of its kind. It launched with just 10 students attending Prairie State College (PSC) in 2016 and has grown to serving 65 students attending both south side campuses this year (32 at PSC and 33 at South Suburban College [SSC]) – launching onsite at SSC for the first time in fall 2018.

To date, HACC has invested more than $300,000 in the program to benefit the futures of community college students in south suburban Cook County. Additional support from the South Suburban College Foundation has also been critical – SSCF has contributed over $13,000 to date.

And the program has continued to expand. Until this academic year, all students supported at PSC and SSC have been HACC residents, but thanks to a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) of $42,500, OMD is able to expand the program to Pell Grant eligible, non-HACC residents. OMD aims to serve a total of 40 non-HACC residents with this expanded funding this year, with hopes of receiving additional funds next year. By June 2020, OMD aims to serve 100 students through the support of HACC and CDBG.

“This program is near and dear to our hearts here at HACC,” noted Monocchio. “This partnership has been an amazing journey so far, and we can’t wait to see where the path leads us in the future.”