Local organization helps students living in public housing pay for college

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Students living in public housing in Charlotte have an opportunity to get help paying for college.

Charlotte ranks among the worst in the nation in upward mobility, meaning if a child is born in poverty it is very difficult for them to climb out of it.

The Greater Steps Scholars program is designed to help end the cycle of poverty by investing in students in public housing.

For more than 30 years it’s been called the Charlotte Housing Authority Scholarship Fund. But the name recently changed to Greater Steps Scholars, partly to battle any stigma and attract more students and donors. In addition to scholarships, recipients receive access to educational and professional development workshops and mentors.

Eyewitness News anchor Brittney Johnson spoke to scholarship recipient Maurice Grier. He graduated from West Charlotte high school, went to UNC Chapel Hill and is now in law school at Howard University. Grier says--there are times he might have quit if not for his mentor Dee Rankin.

“Dee being there, constantly calling me, you know, every once in a while, to check on me and remind me that I’m not alone, which oftentimes is a challenge with people like me, who are from like low-income areas, or, you know, a plethora of identities,” Grier said. “It’s just encouraged me.”

“Mentoring, especially during this time, is so key because this is the time where students need it the most,” Rankin.

Greater Steps Scholars Fund applications are due March 5. The program is also looking for new mentors.

Learn more about the program and the scholarship application here.

The City of Charlotte is also hosting discussions around reimagining mentoring. The Mayor’s Mentoring Alliance is hosting a virtual mentoring network February 11 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. You can register here.