Vanessa didn’t think she’d go to college. She grew up in a neighborhood affected by gang violence, where dropping out of high school was the norm and college didn’t seem like an option. She was having trouble at home and didn’t feel like she had anywhere to turn for support.
Then Vanessa heard about, BUILD, a United Way partner agency that works with at-risk youth. Vanessa started attending an after school program that provides development activities and a safe place for students to go to avoid gang activity. The staff welcomed her immediately. “They were eager to get to know me,” said Vanessa.
The program helped Vanessa increase her confidence and provided mentorship and support. She attended workshops on professional attire, interview training, time management and financial literacy. The staff was also able to connect Vanessa to summer jobs and internships. Vanessa started seeing new possibilities for herself.
Vanessa started classes at Northeastern Illinois University last fall. “Without the support I don’t know what my life would be. I definitely wouldn’t be in the place I am in now,” said Vanessa.
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