Housing Authority celebrates student achievement

Sayvon Friend named Student of the Year

State Superintendent Tony Evers, HACM Education Specialist Darrell Finch and Oscar Tovar of Mayor Barrett’s office with high school graduates

Wisconsin State Superintendent Tony Evers, PhD served as keynote speaker at the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee (HACM)’s 2012 Student Recognition Awards, held June 11, 2012 at the HACM Community Services building, 650 W. Reservoir.

The annual event recognized educational excellence among public housing youth who participate in the HACM Education Initiative. Founded in 2004, the Initiative now works with over 360 youth in the Highland Homes and Scattered Sites developments to keep them in school and help them graduate.

Twelve of fourteen current seniors are graduating this month, and the additional two are continuing their educations to achieve their high school degree or GED. Since 2008, the annual graduation rate for Education Initiative seniors has hovered between 85 percent and 100 percent, compared with graduation rates of between 66 percent and 69 percent for Milwaukee youth outside of the Initiative.

“The pathway to success and a good life depends on how much education you have,” Evers said to the students. “Aim high, never quit and fail forward. Keep up the good work you are doing here.”

The Student Recognition Awards are an opportunity to recognize the efforts of program youth and highlight the work of outstanding students. Sayvon Friend was named Student of the Year for his efforts to improve his grades, serve as a role model for his younger brothers and sister, and the initiative he has taken to continue his education. He is scheduled to attend Columbia College in Chicago this fall.

The Initiative provides a holistic approach to education that emphasizes daily attendance in school and academic achievement, but also develops family-focused environments for educational success. Education Specialist Darrell Finch and HACM case managers work closely with the families and schools to coordinate support services for youth who are in need of extra assistance.

“Education is perhaps the most important tool youth can use to build bright futures, and the Education Initiative is successfully helping its youth to maximize their educational opportunities and experience,” said Mayor Tom Barrett.

Mr. Finch works one-on-one with families to develop an educational achievement plan for each child. If a youth is not doing well in school or is missing school or classes, Mr. Finch begins monthly meetings with the child, his/her family and the property manager to help address issues that may be impeding progress.

“We work together to solve the challenges youth may face and to provide a home and neighborhood environment that reinforces the importance of education,” said Finch.

“The Education Initiative helps to fight the effects of poverty by ensuring that low-income youth and their families have access to the resources they need for educational achievement,” said Common Council President and HACM Board Chair Willie L. Hines, Jr.

The Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee (HACM) provides safe, high-quality and affordable housing options to over 10,000 Milwaukee families. HACM further provides a wide range of educational, employment, and social services to enhance residents’ self-sufficiency.