My name is Jessica Sutherland. I’m James’s mentor, and the administrator of what I’ve been calling THE JAMES FUND. I thought people might want to know where their money is going, who’s holding it, and how it’s going to be used, so here’s a bit about all of that.
My mother and I were homeless for nearly six years in the suburbs of Cleveland, OH before I was removed to foster care during my senior year of high school. After many long years of working and learning, I graduated from Cleveland State University in 2006, with a BA in Communication, a minor in Marketing, a certificate in Graphic Design, and Varsity letters in Cheerleading and Track.
I then attended the University of Southern California for graduate school, and completed my MFA in Writing for Screen and Television in 2010. My education was funded by a combination of merit and need-based aid, and student loans.
Since 2012, I’ve worked as a producer for Yahoo! Studios, where I work on Chow Ciao! with Fabio Viviani. I also volunteer with at-risk and homeless youth, including James, whom I met at the Union Rescue Mission on Skid Row when I was asked to share my success story with a lifeskills class for the teens in residence.
When James got into Howard, I was determined to send him off to Washington, DC with some pocket money, so that he could buy the things he’d never needed before, like winter clothing, and the things most kids never think of, like shower curtains and laundry soap. I converted my birthday party into a laid-back fundraiser for him…my loved ones came out strong, and we raised $530 in cash.
Then James’s Parent/Plus loans got denied, and suddenly money for winter clothes wasn’t our priority. Now we’re trying to raise money to reduce his funds needed, in the hope of finding a lender that will work with him.
Currently, all funds raised are being handled by me. Though we originally earmarked this cash for winter clothes, the money will now be paid directly to Howard for tuition and room and board.
Any additional funds raised beyond his Howard bills will be used in one of three ways:
- to open a low-limit, secured credit card for James so that he may build credit in a responsible manner, while also building savings.
- for miscellaneous expenses such as winter clothes, books, school supplies, travel for holiday, medical expenses, or food.
- to help pay for additional years at Howard (this of course assumes we raise an amazing amount of money).
I welcome any and all questions you may have about what we’re doing. We are still setting things up, so we’re open to suggestions. (And donations!)
Thanks so much for reading!