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“Having this community, it’s like having a sponsor who is constantly encouraging your success.” 

-Kentae, S2S Scholarship Awardee

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As a senior majoring in Finance at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Kentae Elem’s hard work is paying off.  While growing up as a participant in CHA’s Housing Choice Voucher program, Kentae and his sister aspired to be the first in their family to graduate from college.

“Me and my sister are first generation college students, and we are always competitive,” said Kentae, cheerfully. This wholesome rivalry not only motivated his hard work at King College Preparatory High School on the south side of Chicago, but also informed his decision to accept the offer from the University of Illinois where his sister had recently graduated.

But before Kentae could celebrate his college acceptance, he had to figure out how he and his family would pay for tuition, books, dorm room essentials, and everything else needed for collegiate success.

As CHA’s nonprofit partner, Springboard to Success(S2S) quickly responds to CHA youth needs through events and programs that encourage college persistence, perseverance, and graduation. Because education is a research proven pathway out of poverty, S2S works to ensure equitable access to educational resources. From books and back-to-school supply drives to college scholarships and corporate internship connections, S2S provides resources and encouragement throughout a student’s education pathway.

While students may receive financial aid to pay for tuition, CHA youth are often left scrambling to cover the cost of other out-of-pocket expenses. Take Flight, a celebratory S2S event, provides freshmen with a computer, toiletries, linens, and other college necessities for what Kentae referred to as a “fresh start” in dorm life. Kentae is also S2S Scholarship Awardee and has received the scholarship for each year of college.

“Having this community, it’s like having a sponsor who is constantly encouraging your success.” 

While Covid-19 made for a very difficult year, Kentae was delighted to receive a finals season care package from S2S, “[The care package] was a little boost to keep me motivated through a weird year.”

With graduation on his horizon, Kentae is looking forward to attending the S2S Networking and Recruitment event over winter break. Hoping to start a career as a financial advisor and considering the MBA at Illinois, Kentae’s interested in one-on-one networking with other professionals in finance through this S2S event.


As S2S supports CHA youth on their path toward achieving academic success and financial independence, we’re grateful to share their stories with you, as a member of our community of supporters.

We are grateful to the you and other members of the community of donors.

Will you give a gift today to make more stories like Kentae’s possible?

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