Chanta Williams grew up in Englewood, in a crowded home shared by her mother, grandparents, great grandmother, uncle, four aunts, and three cousins. By the time she was in high school, Chanta was well aware of the statistics that characterized her community: 99% African American, 43% in poverty, and 25% literate. There were times when her neighborhood felt like a “war zone,” leaving her in constant fear of “being in crossfire.” A bright and passionate student, Chanta was determined to go to college and establish a career that could address the problems she witnessed on a daily basis.
When it came time for college, Chanta hoped to attend a historically black college (HBCU), where she might find the support of like-minded leaders. Because of the high demand for financial aid at these schools, the cost was particularly high. By junior year, Chanta was actively applying for outside help. “I knew I wouldn’t be able to finance college any other way.” The Wentcher Foundation provided “the largest scholarship I received every year. It helped tremendously.”
After a brief stay at Howard University in 2006, Chanta transferred to Spelman College, where she would complete her degree. Her experience at Spelman (an all-women’s school) would give her “a lot of confidence” as she pursued a career so historically dominated by men. At school Chanta kept busy as a resident assistant, employee in the office of alumnae affairs, activist, and political science major.
Chanta spent a great deal of her time volunteering in Atlanta — a city plagued by many of the same problems she had seen in Chicago. In the face of inequality, Chanta saw education as the main way out: “Some students don’t understand how much an education can do for you.” As political chair for the Spelman Chapter of the NAACP, Chanta spearheaded a student-run scholarship program. She also served on the committee of SKIRTS (Sisters Keeping it Real Through Service) and worked as a reading partner for Everybody Wins Atlanta. “I wanted to be a resource for students like myself, coming from low-income communities struggling with issues like gun violence and illiteracy.”
After graduating cum laude, Chanta began law school at DePaul University. Chanta's talents have led her to a career in development for non-profit organizations. Chanta has an exciting future ahead of her.