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Eddie F. Holmes, right, speaks during the Chattanooga Housing Authority's board meeting in this file photo.
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'You' program announcment

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The Chattanooga Housing Authority offers a summer program to high school students for professional and personal development and, if they're selected, will pay each of them a $300 stipend to participate.

"We always hear youth don't have a lot of things positive to be actively involved in, so this is a way for students to participate in a summer activity that's full of educational enrichment, cultural diversity, self-esteem building as well as exposing them to the workforce," said Carol Johnson, the authority's director of resident services.

Housing officials mailed more than 370 applications to high school students in public housing. The deadline to apply is today. Students should complete the applications and take them to their resident managers.

Hyona Williams, a 15-year-old Emma Wheeler Homes resident and aspiring electrical engineer, completed her application Wednesday.

"That job can keep me occupied. When I'm not occupied it's easier to get into fights," said Hyona, a student at Howard School.

If she is one of the 15 selected for the housing authority's You're Onward and Upward, or YOU, program, she'll be offered seven engaging weeks of educational field trips, training courses and local speakers who focus on topics such as college preparation and career exploration.

This is the second year the housing authority has provided public housing teens with exposure to career opportunities.

"We want to let them know that there are people in their community who support them and their goals in life," Johnson said.

High school students in YOU will practice conflict resolution, etiquette fundamentals, time management and financial planning. They will create resumes and participate in mock interviews. Field trips include a visit to the Tennessee Capitol for exposure to the legislative process and the Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham, Ala., to learn more about the history of the civil rights movement.

Students also will attend a Chattanooga City Council meeting, said Katie Morgan, the authority's special projects coordinator.

The director of scholarships from the Community Foundation will speak with participants about how to find and apply for scholarships. They will tour the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and Chattanooga State Community College.

The program requires graduates to do a final presentation that includes a description of their career choice and the requirements to achieve it. The housing authority funds the program, along with a $5,000 SunTrust Bank grant.

The authority wants to show the young people that there is an alternative to doing nothing, authority board Chairman Eddie Holmes said.

"We want to show them you can do things outside of athletics to be successful, outside of a hustle," he said. "We still believe education is the key."

Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at yputman@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6431.

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