CHA Youth Create Their Own Businesses and Learn to be CEOs


Three-year CHA & DePaul partnership connects 25 CHA youth to professional learning opportunities

CHICAGO (August 11, 2016) — (RealEstateRama) — After six weeks of exploring some of the city’s largest companies, speaking with executives at billion dollar franchises and imagining what it’s like to be a CEO, 25 CHA young people are graduating from the BMO Harris Financial Literacy and Leadership Institute (FLLI) at DePaul’s Graduate School of Management sponsored by the Chicago Housing Authority.

“We’re meeting with businesses and we see what’s going on behind the scenes,” said Jayla Davis, a high school junior from West Englewood and aspiring professional volleyball player. “Even when you’re in the spotlight it’s important to understand every part of a business including the contracts, business deals and how the money works. This is a great opportunity to network and get my name out there.”

Over the past several weeks, students like Davis have convened at DePaul’s Loop Campus to utilize financial software, develop leadership skills and build wealth – skills that will help them take important steps towards college and career.

“Financial literacy is critical to the success of our young people and we are proud to be offering this opportunity for a third consecutive year in partnership with DePaul University,” said CHA CEO Eugene Jones, Jr. “In what we at CHA have termed the ‘Year of the Youth,’ we are committed to programs and partnerships that support the ambitions of all of our bright, young and talented youth.”

FLLI is part of an established partnership between DePaul and CHA that is ensuring CHA’s young people have the financial and business skills necessary to compete in an increasing competitive professional world.

Students work in teams to build a business and they compete against each other to establish the best business model. They are supported by mentors who help them determine efficient product price points, effective marketing decisions, production requirements and other essential skills that produce a successful real world business.

Students then explore first-hand the application of these skills on visits to locations like Soldier Field, in trainings with professionals who instruct on business simulation technology and in conversations with senior executives like Stacey Bolton, a Senior Vice President at The Northern Trust.

“The intention is to inspire them,” said Doctor Scott Young, the FLLI program director and Chair of the Management Department at DePaul. “Many of these students never even think of college as a possibility, and we are able to show them a college campus and connect them with strong role models who have overcome many of the same challenges our students currently face.”

Students are provided with more than just the skills to succeed however. They are also supplied with essential business attire from Macy’s for job interviews and future careers.

“It’s been an all-around great experience being in downtown and getting exposure to the city,” said Jamirico Wilson, a high school junior from Englewood. “I’m getting my name out there and seeing past what I normally see on a daily basis. I want to be an animator, and this program is helping to ensure I apply my talents so they don’t go to waste.”

This program is just one of several opportunities made possible by CHA and DePaul’s ongoing collaboration and have become even more important during the Year of the Youthcampaign that prioritizes CHA youth and their success. Other collaborative 2016 programs include:

Documentary Filmmaking for Girls – A six-week summer program that allows young CHA females to become documentary filmmakers at DePaul University’s School of Cinematic Arts.

Mobile Maker Labs – Mobile labs that are operated by DePaul’s Digital Youth Network and travel across the city transforming digital deserts into innovative learning hubs.

Photo Attached

Photo Credit: Kathy Hillegonds

Caption: CHA youth visit Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears, and to speak with Darla Swango, the Corporate Partnerships Manager at Chicago Bears about sports management and entrepreneurship.

Office of Communications — Chicago Housing Authority
Molly Sullivan 312-786-3344 msullivan (at) thecha (dot) org

*Interviews and B-Roll of graduation ceremony available:
Aug. 12, 2016, Noon-1PM, DePaul University **


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