Each year, Hope through Housing awards youth and adult learners living in National CORE communities scholarships to help them achieve their dreams through education. The scholarship recipients use the funds for a variety of different purposes. Some pay college tuition directly – others invest in technology that will allow them to study more successfully. Some use the scholarship to pay for the cost of transportation to get to their education program, while others pay for certification classes and fees that will allow them to engage in better-paying work.

Erik, a father living at Sunset Heights in Alta Loma, California, used his scholarship from Hope through Housing to attend trucking school and renew his Class A trucking license. Erik originally received his trucking license about 20 years ago. Then, he went through a divorce and was given sole custody of his son. “I decided that I needed to be home instead of out on the road so that I could take care of him.”

When it came time to renew his trucking license, Erik chose not to, believing he would not need it again. He began driving for Uber – until his car broke down. When the tow truck driver learned about Erik’s work experience, he told him he should apply to work at the towing company. Erik did, but his lack of a Class A license limited his growth opportunities at the towing company and his potential for higher pay. He needed to renew his license, but he just didn’t have the money to afford trucking school.

“I kept trying to save money and something would come up,” Erik said. “I needed to pay a bill I wasn’t expecting, or my car would break down, or something would always happen, and I would have to spend the money that I was trying to save up.”

Things have recently started working out a little better for Erik – he is now happily remarried, and his wife’s ability to look after his son has allowed him to work longer hours and provide for their family. But still, trucking school was just out of reach. Then, he was awarded a $1000 Building Bright Futures scholarship. Erik immediately used the funds to pay the down payment for trucking school (an $1800 program). Within about two months, he was able to earn the Class A license that he had needed for so long.

“This will open up a lot of new opportunities for me,” Erik said – if he finds himself in need of a new job, the license will make it much easier to find one. “And in the towing industry, having my Class A driver’s license opens up the opportunity for more earning potential. And so that that’s really good for my family, because it helps me make sure that my bills are paid, and my kids have the clothes that they need and the food on the table.”

“My stepson is 17 and he’s going to be looking at college soon,” Erik continued. “All the kids are starting to blossom, and this helps me to help them get started in their life.”

Erik said he’s now been offered a promotion, and even was offered a position in three other companies.

“The last couple of years have just been really tight for me financially. And [the scholarship] really helped a lot,” Erik said. “Nothing is more important than family to me. Family is all we have, and I want to see other families prosper in the way you’ve helped mine to. Now, I’m not just worried about having a job each day. There are so many more opportunities in my life.”