By Charlene Muhammad CHARLENEM

LOS ANGELES–Jashell Timmons has always loved children, so she beamed with joy after receiving a $1,000 college scholarship from the Los Angeles County Community Development Foundation (LACDF), which puts her closer to realizing her dream of becoming a preschool teacher.

“I love kids! … But there is a shortage of teachers so that would be a good field to go in, especially if I’m working with kids,” Jashell told The Final Call. She is poised to begin her freshman year in Early Childhood Development at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas this year.

The development foundation, the non-profit arm of the Los Angeles County Housing Authority, awarded over $35,000 in resident scholarships to Jashell and 32 other public housing and Section 8 participants attending a four-year university, community college, or vocational program.


They were recognized during the 2017 Reality Check Conference held at The California Endowment Center. This is the 20th year the foundation has offered the scholarships as part of its mission to end generational poverty in public housing and Section 8. To date, it has awarded $271,000 in scholarships.

Ms. Timmons said she lives with her mother, who has been a Section 8 renter for 21 years. Her mother’s her hero, and has encouraged her to go to college so she would not have to endure similar struggles with employment and poverty that she’s gone through, the young college student said.

Funding for the awards to help families like hers comes from donations of the California Community Foundation, Edison International, and the employees of the Community Development Commission/ Housing Authority of the County of Los Angeles.

In addition to an award luncheon ceremony emceed by comedian/ actor Lewis Dix, Jr., students were treated to a one-day conference with life-skills workshops, career panels and educational resources. College recruiters were also on hand.

Some students said they were proud and nervous because they felt they wouldn’t be nominated. One said he felt the scholarship shows he had accomplished something, and that’s just the beginning.

“We provide college readiness, conferences, SAT prep and mentoring,” said Shelly Thompson, the foundation’s director. “The scholarships are definitely a minimal amount, but the resources is where the richness is, and we keep tabs on the kids throughout the years, so it’s not just a onetime scholarship,” she said.

Rev. Dr. Helen Esterling Williams, the dean of Pepperdine University’s Graduate School of Education and Psychology, began her keynote address by telling the students how important getting their education is and that no one could take that away from them.

She shared her journey from poverty as a child growing up in the back woods of South Carolina during the Jim Crow era to now enjoying a rewarding life and lifestyle.

Though her mother, nor she, had any idea what college was, her mother vowed to support her in any way she could. She won a scholarship and attended school in New Jersey, she said.

She gave the students the very advice her mother gave her. “Don’t let anybody tell you no. Don’t let anybody rain on your parade. Don’t let anybody turn you around and send you in the other direction,” Dr. Williams stated.