Family Self-Sufficiency Alliance holds annual graduation

Feb. 15, 2024
| by:
Vickie Ellexson

Meet outstanding graduate Jasmine Valentine

The Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Alliance hosted its annual graduation on Jan. 26 to honor 71 graduates from the Family Self-Sufficiency programs within the cities of Chandler, Tempe, Mesa and Scottsdale.

The FSS Alliance includes Chandler, Tempe, Mesa, Scottsdale and Phoenix.  These five cities have committed to work together and develop relationships with local community resources to maximize participants’ success.

The FSS Program is a voluntary program funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to promote educational and employment opportunities for families living in government-subsidized housing. Many of the FSS graduates have obtained higher education, improved employment, enhanced life skills, and no longer receive public assistance. Several graduates have gone from subsidized housing to homeowners since the inception of the program in 1997.

A total of 71 FSS participants graduated from the program this year 34 of them from the City of Chandler’s program. Many of the participants and graduates have overcome very difficult life situations to become self-sufficient. Participants have had to prevail over serious health issues that prevented them from working for long periods, have struggled with transportation issues limiting their access to various resources and had education levels that did not allow them to move forward. In addition, this current set of graduates had a new added challenge never experienced in the past — the COVID pandemic.

One of Chandler’s graduates is Jasmine Valentine. Last August, Valentine was awarded the Family Self-Sufficiency Participant of the Year award by the Arizona Chapter of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials and the Arizona Housing Authority Directors Association.

Valentine is the proud mother of three young men ages 21, 17 and 12. Her eldest is attending New Mexico State University on a full-ride football scholarship. Her 17-year-old son is a high school senior and a top-ranked running back with the school’s football team, who has received 23 football scholarship offers. Her youngest son keeps busy with school and also is an athlete who participates in football and track.

She enrolled in the FSS Program in July 2021. A native of Arizona, she returned to the Metro Phoenix area after relocating from Oakland, Calif. Valentine has more than 15 years of experience working with youth, adults and families in underserved areas. She was employed with Maricopa County her first year on the FSS program. Within a year, she was hired as a Case Worker II/Victim Advocate for the Human Exploitation and Trafficking (HEAT) unit, collaborating with the Phoenix Police Department. This new job opportunity earned her a 30% increase in income from her previous employer.  Jasmine also holds a Master’s degree and Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Colorado Tech University.

In June of 2023, Jasmine was hired by the Alameda County Social Services Agency working a hybrid position as a Child Welfare Worker II. She works one day in California in person and three at home in Arizona. This new career opportunity was an increase of 61% in her gross earnings. Jasmine has been working with NEWTOWN to increase her credit score and work towards her dream of becoming a homeowner.

Jasmine’s self-driven desire to never stop striving for better opportunities is a great example of her dedication, perseverance, and demonstration of what an FSS participant can achieve when self-sufficiency is the main goal in their life.

This is just one success story of a graduate – we are incredibly proud of all our program participants.

Jasmine and Family
FFS Graduation
Jasmine and Vickie
Vickie Ellexson
Vickie Ellexson