Single Mother Housing Help – Amanda Lowery and her daughter Aaliyah in their apartment at the Anderson Scholar House. The program helps single parents acquire housing while completing college. (Photo provided by / McCain Wallace for Chalk Beat)
Amanda Lowery was driving to school last summer when her phone rang. A few weeks ago, the 32-year-old started taking classes to get his high school diploma. But he really wanted to go to college.
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Lowery, a single mother who graduated high school at 16, was working two jobs when she decided to go back to school. It’s hard to find a balance between going to school and working to pay the bills and not taking care of the kids in the evenings or on weekends.
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When he answered his phone, Lowery knew he was one step closer to entering the Anderson Scholar House in Anderson, Indiana. And when another illegal phone call came during his history class, he cried. It is a new beginning.
Anderson Scholars House helps parents who want a college degree but need additional housing and support. It doesn’t eliminate the costs and other stressors in life, but it creates support that prevents that stress from working in college.
Participants can attend any college as long as the classes are mostly private and they have transportation to campus. Scholar House provides stable housing for women – known as Scholars – and their children – known as Junior Scholars – while also providing life and teaching opportunities.
The goal is for scholars to leave as graduates who don’t need the housing vouchers, food stamps or other basic assistance they once did.
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It’s a simple idea and it’s proven successful elsewhere. It also plans to expand, with two locations in Indianapolis possible.
Rosemary Baker, a family law attorney who helps students deal with problems every day, says this is the first program she’s seen that doesn’t put a Band-Aid on people’s problems behind them. complete. It won’t get any better.
Last fall, Lowery was the first to move into Scholar House, which is a couple’s apartment. The apartment has four floors. Four renovations have been completed, and more renovations are planned.
Lowery lives in the two-bedroom apartment with her two-year-old daughter Aaliyah. It’s a place they’ve made their own, from Aaliyah’s jungle-themed bedroom to the “perfect” dining room for two downstairs.
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In the morning, they got ready to go to school together before Lowery went to class and Aaliyah to daycare.
“I was like, ‘Okay honey, mommy has to go to school and you have to go to school, we have to get ready, we have to dress clean, brush our teeth, we’re going to have a good day. . .’ .’ , learn new things,” Lowery said.
Problems keep coming up: Aaliyah is sick and needs to stay home, or Lowery’s car needs fixing. He balanced school by working at Cracker Barrel. It still has fees.
Lowery and other researchers are not alone when it comes to the cost of living. The program uses housing vouchers, which means they pay less rent. Many also benefit from other programs, such as food stamps, and receive grants and scholarships for their education.
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Aaliyah points to her toy box, prepared by Doug Eckerty, executive director of JobSource, which runs the Anderson Scholar House.
Researchers house staff and service providers who help with applications and find information. Scholars are encouraged not only to earn a college degree, but also to do so in high-demand and high-paying jobs.
Lowery said Baker — who works out of Scholar House — was her first point of contact when she wanted to talk about the race and didn’t know what to do.
“He can tell me what to do and what to do, or he can call me and think about it,” Lowery said.
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Baker quickly said that he does not judge the scientists and that he respects their privacy. But what he doesn’t do is ignore their problems and hope they go away.
“Sometimes the decisions [women] make are bad, but we have to allow them to make that [decision] and lose,” Baker said. “But we won’t leave you, we’re going back.”
He added that every scientist needs support with many things, and the way is not always easy. There are many tears, but there are many happy things.
Last week, Lowery completed his 40th degree at the Excel Center, a free school for adults. Although Scholar House usually requires a high school diploma to start, Lowery took two credit courses at Ivy Tech Community College, meaning he was eligible.
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On the same day as his high school senior, Lowry enrolled in classes at Ivy Tech, where he received a full scholarship and plans to pursue a degree in medicine. He will start with one class this summer before going full-time in the fall.
The Anderson Scholar House is modeled after the Family Scholar House, which began nearly thirty years ago in Louisville, Kentucky, but the idea that led to Anderson began three years ago.
In early 2020, Doug Eckerty, executive director of the community service organization JobSource, wants to expand the community services in Madison County with something new in this area.
It was started in 1990, but opened its first school in 2008. Since then, the current residents of the five Family Scholar House schools have earned nearly 780 degrees. high, for an 86% graduation rate, said Keith Dykstra, Chief Prospect Officer. President and CEO of Family Scholar House.
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He added that 99% of scholars in the city have moved into permanent housing, 81% have moved with permanent jobs and 66% have moved while continuing their studies, most of them graduate. .
After doing his research, Eckerty worked to bring the program to Anderson, which is now one of the few Family Scholar House branches in the country. JobSource has purchased several houses in early 2021 and is using Family Scholar House programming but changing it as needed.
The Anderson Scholars House has four staff members and several caregivers and volunteers who work with the scholars. They partner with other community organizations to provide mental health services, financial assistance, and educational training. Connect with other community organizations for mental health services, financial assistance, and educational training.
Volunteers provide childcare and help paint and furnish the rooms. Scholars receive guidance and training in meal preparation, equipment maintenance and tax preparation. Financial courses help them prepare for housing after graduation.
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There are monthly financial reviews, periodic academic reports and home inspections. Not because the workers are boring, but to ensure that the researchers are on track, Baker said.
“Our goal is if we see you slipping, sliding or something going on, we’re going to talk to you,” Baker said.
Rosemary Baker, family advocate for Anderson Scholars House, said the program changes lives and is not just a program.
As long as they attend college full-time and attend 75% of classes in person, participants can stay in their own homes. They also have to get test scores, attend workshops and help in the Scholar House. Their children must go to day school or school. Adults are not allowed to stay overnight or enter.
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Prospective residents can advance to life in Scholar House by enrolling on campus, participating in online workshops, meeting with financial advisors and providing updates on Baker.
There is a waiting list of about three dozen people who need to be transferred. And Eckerty plans to expand the program further.
He said that the most difficult thing is to find and repair the property. So when the opportunity arose to partner with Glick Philanthropies to help with Indianapolis’ future expansion, it just made sense.
The staff at the two sites owned by the Glick Housing Foundation are now being trained in pilot programs before working with potential researchers, said Cecile Berkley, director of the program. clearly under Glick Philanthropies. (Glick Philanthropies include Glick Fun, a fund of the Central Indiana Community Foundation that also funds Chalkbeat Indiana.)
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When Lowery was in college, Baker cried, just like Lowery did when he entered Scholar House.
A year ago, Lowery wasn’t even in high school and didn’t live in Scholar House. Now it is his village. Lowery said the Anderson Scholar House taught her that dreaming big is possible, a feeling she wants to pass on to her daughter.
Lowery’s ultimate goal is to earn a master’s degree in social therapy and open her own clinic for pregnant women and parents of children with disabilities. mental health issues and addictions.
“Scholar House has given me a future, it has given me hope, it has given me a home, security and a community of people who care about me and care about my success .”
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When Lowery heard last year that he and Aaliyah would be moving into the Anderson Scholar House, he cried. now