At age 20, Chris had a decision to make: use his jail time in a constructive way, or not.

He had always liked learning.  Even when he dropped out of high school, when his mom kicked him out, and when he was arrested for second-degree robbery.  He used his 5 months in jail as 5 months of study time.  A hard-earned study hall—but he was ready to make it into an open doorway.

“I decided to apply myself to getting my GED,” Chris said.  “I spent hours every day going through GED prep books.  I had forgotten how confident learning could make me feel.”

When he’d completed his sentence, he had only his clothes in a plastic bag.  He didn’t want to be homeless.  He went to Auburn Youth Resources and got help finding a place to live.  They also connected him with Seattle Education Access for help finishing his GED prep.  Both organizations are partners in United Way’s partners Reconnecting Youth program.

“After about a month, I took the GED test and passed easily.  That felt so good.”

Chris is now working toward his associate degree in IT network management at Green River College.  He’s got a steady job and he feels like he’s turned a corner toward a better future for himself.

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