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Youth & Families Gather to Celebrate Educational Success


Fill your utility belt with tools for success was the message at last night’s “Utility Belt of Success” Student Recognition Ceremony hosted by the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee (HACM). The event celebrated the exceptional performances of HACM’s youth and commended the graduating seniors. The theme, “Utility Belt of Success,” served as a call to action by both award recipients and the audience to build capacity as a community as we experience our own journey towards success.

Created in 2005, HACM’s Education Initiative addresses issues of low attendance and graduation rates in school. The innovative program involves families in the process and works to cultivate the “it takes a village” approach to educating and developing youth.

HACM works with families in two public housing developments, Highland Homes and Scattered Sites, with the following goals:

To promote and strengthen school attendance and graduation

  • To promote and strengthen academic achievement
  • To promote and strengthen parental involvement
  • To expose and acclimate youth to new learning experiences

Since the initiative’s inception, over 90% of seniors have graduated and school attendance of children in the program has nearly always been 100%.

“When it may feel like there are as many reasons to be successful as there are reasons to give up; our youth and families need to be reminded that their efforts are noticed by celebrating the small victories as we strive for continuous growth. The Housing Authority's Education Initiative plays an important role as it is designed to champion our families through empowerment while being practical with our approach to obtain the desired results,” said David Comer, Education Specialist for HACM.

HACM’s unique program includes a housing lease addendum that requires family participation and provides support to develop household educational plans that encourage school attendance and achievement. The program reinforces its goals through home visits, report card monitoring, mentoring, tutoring, and referrals to educational support programs. A customized plan is developed for each child and is tracked through specified benchmarks. The program also familiarizes children and youth to a variety of post-secondary educational environments through campus visits and interaction with college students and programs. The initiative helps youth accomplish this first major achievement in adult life and move on to futures of self-sufficiency and fulfillment.

“The Education Initiative personalizes the services because we want every child to cross their finish line, achieve their goals and ultimately graduate high school to enter the workforce or a college/university. This is about their journey; we are the beacon,” said Comer.

To learn more about HACM’s award-winning Education Initiative and how to support it, please contact David Comer at 414.286.5780 or