This week the national campaign to address student homelessness, Education Leads Home, announced that six states—California, Kentucky, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon and Washington—have been chosen to participate in a first-of-its-kind partnership aimed improving educational outcomes for students who are experiencing homelessness.
Young people who do not graduate from high school are 4.5 times as likely to experience homelessness in their lives—and students who are experiencing homelessness are nearly 90 percent more likely to drop out of school than their peers. Taken together, those facts shine a light on the daunting odds that students experiencing homelessness face, as well as why education is a crucial part of any strategy to prevent and end youth homelessness. Schools are critical points of connection for students and families—connections that we have to utilize to ensure students are getting what they need inside and outside of the classroom.
On April 1, 2019 Katie Hong will be stepping away from her role as the Raikes Foundation’s Director of Youth Homelessness and into her new role as Director of Special Initiatives. The foundation believes it’s important to engage more deeply in our region’s worsening homelessness, and nobody is better suited to lead our work in that area than Katie (you can read more about Katie’s new role and strategy here). But despite a change in leadership, our deep dedication to end youth homelessness remains unchanged.
I’m proud to be carrying on our foundation’s longstanding commitment to young people experiencing homelessness as the new director of our youth homelessness strategy.
This week, our partners at Schoolhouse Washington released a comprehensive report on the academic outcomes of students experiencing homelessness in Washington state.
While this report verifies the immense challenges that homeless students face and the negative impact instability has on their education, it also includes key findings that can help us support these students in achieving their academic goals. Given that the lack of a high school degree or GED is the single biggest correlative with young adult homelessness, these findings have far reaching implications for advocates and policymakers working in the sector.
A few weeks ago, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that Washington state has been awarded not one, but two federal Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program (YHDP) grants. These grants reaffirm that Washington state is on the right path toward ending youth homelessness and that our state can lead the way for others.
The new grants, totaling more than $7 million annually, will go to Snohomish County and other rural Washington communities to boost efforts to end youth homelessness. This makes Washington state the only state to have three YHDPs (King County is the other recipient), totaling more than $12 million in annual support from HUD to address youth homelessness.
In announcing the grants, HUD cited the language in the application that “Washington State has one of the strongest commitments to addressing youth homelessness in the nation.”