Update 8/8/18: Additional funding to support projects requesting resources to benefit students experiencing homelessness is now available! We'll begin approving projects for this match offer on Tuesday, 8/14/18. You're welcome to submit your project for supporting students and others experiencing homelessness anytime by following the criteria below.
There are at least 1.3 million students experiencing homelessness in the U.S. Thanks to generous support from Pearl Jam, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Raikes Foundation, and Deutsche Bank, donations to projects that provide needed resources to students experiencing homelessness are being matched while funds last. This match is a part of a collaboration with Pearl Jam’s Home Shows in Seattle this August, meant to raise awareness, money, and support for efforts to end homelessness.
Within schools, teachers are often the first point of contact. Wherever you teach, student homelessness exists. In fact, children and youth experience homelessness in the United States at the same rates in rural, suburban, and urban areas. Teachers who know they have students experiencing homelessness are especially encouraged to post projects, while teachers in any community can play a role by working with students to help children and youth experiencing homelessness in your district or community.
Here’s how to qualify:
- Make sure you’re familiar with how to identify signs of homelessness in your students. (We have some suggested resources below!)
- Enter the campaign code HOMESHOWS to get started. You'll see the steps below outlined as you move through the process of creating your project.
- If you have students experiencing homelessness, create a project requesting the food, personal hygiene products, clean clothes, or academic support they need. For guidance shopping for these resources, you may find our Warmth, Care & Hunger shopping guide helpful. Requests for professional development resources or trainings to learn more about working with students experiencing homelessness or trauma are also eligible.
- When describing your students, we recommend framing homelessness as an experience that individual people have, rather than a label. And of course, please be sure not to share any information which would identify the individual students or people your project will serve.
- When you describe the resources or experiences you're requesting, describe how they'll specifically benefit your students experiencing homelessness.
- You can also create a project that empowers your students to support your area’s homeless community.
- Keep your total project goal under $2,000, including taxes, shipping, fees, and the suggested donation to support DonorsChoose.org.
How will I know if I’ve qualified for this funding?
If your project meets the criteria above, you should see the match offer applied to your project as soon as it’s approved and live on the site--as a reminder, we'll begin approving projects on 8/14/18. The match won’t appear during Friends and Family Pre-funding. New donations will be matched one-to-one as long as funding remains.
How can I identify signs of homelessness in my students? Here’s some best practices, courtesy of SchoolHouse Connection and Building Changes.
- Learn about the extent of child and youth homelessness, its effects on students, the educational rights of homeless students, and resources to assist them. You can utilize free webinars and resources related to these topics thanks to SchoolHouse Connection.
- Know and work collaboratively with your school district’s homeless liaison, who is responsible for supporting students experiencing homelessness.
- Learn about promising practices that other districts have successfully implemented, such as building points of contacts, training staff at all levels, and asking students and families about their housing needs more than once a year.
- Learn about potential signs of homelessness that include: chronic absenteeism; sleeping in class; being irritable or withdrawn or manifesting other behaviors indicating stress and trauma; hygiene deficits; and hunger.
- Become an advocate for students experiencing homelessness – be the squeaky wheel that brings it up during staff meetings.
- Provide literature about services/resources and display it prominently in your classroom/office.
- Advocate for an inclusive school environment with all students, so that other students may feel comfortable referring their friends who are experiencing homelessness.
What are some examples of how other teachers support their homeless students?
- Mrs. Carmany’s project requested shoes for students in her classroom who were in need of a fresh pair. One-third of student in her district were experiencing homelessness when she created this project.
- Mrs. Martinez requested a washer and dryer for her classroom, so that students without these necessities could bring in dirty clothing to be washed at school.
- Mrs. Garcia requested a plethora of necessities and accessories (even prom dresses!) to transform an old office in her building into a room where any student could get outfits, shoes, and supplies for prom.
- Ms. Mierzwinski requested bedsheets, clothes and snacks for her elementary school students experiencing homelessness.
What are some examples of how other teachers empower students to support homeless individuals in their community?
- Ms. Horak requested hygiene and food items to make care packages for local community members experiencing homelessness. Her students delivered these packages with origami and notes!
- Ms. Pedersen got art supplies that helped her students create unique gifts for individuals experiencing homelessness near their school, inspired by a book they read together.
- Mrs. Caldwell requested a compost toilet to add to the tiny house they built for a local veteran experiencing homelessness. Her students have now built 2 tiny houses for local community members!