CHA board chairman donates stipend for scholarships

May 3, 2011

The chairman of the Chicago Housing Authority board of commissioners is donating his $100,000 stipend to a college scholarship fund for public housing residents.

James Reynolds is also kicking in another $25,000 of his own money to Windows of Opportunity, the CHA nonprofit, to start a special board of commissioners scholarship fund.

“I took the position as chair of the board of the CHA actually not even knowing there was a stipend attached,” Reynolds said.  “When I found out there was a stipend, I never once thought of keeping it. I don’t need the money – I thought the best use would be to help the kids.”

Reynolds is founder and CEO of Loop Capital Markets, a Chicago-based global investment banking and brokerage firm. It’s the largest minority-owned investment banking firm in the United States.

Reynolds said he wants his contribution to help residents transition out of public housing and into self-sufficiency. The money will go toward tuition as well as ancillary costs such as travel-abroad study and transportation costs to return home.

“I think the key to our young people leaving public housing for good is education,” Reynolds said.

In the last 20 years, Windows of Opportunity has awarded more than $850,000 in college scholarships to hundreds of college-bound public housing residents.

Mayor Richard M. Daley appointed Reynolds to the CHA board in August 2010. A native of Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood, Reynolds serves on several civic boards around the city.