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How District 11 is helping students experiencing homelessness

Posted at 10:31 AM, Sep 07, 2023

COLORADO SPRINGS — The pandemic created several challenges for kids, from isolation to school closures. To help students get back on their feet, President Biden issued 130 billion dollars to schools through the American Rescue Plan. But that money is soon running out for schools across the country.

District 11 was issued two grants through the American Rescue Plan that have helped children experiencing homelessness get the resources they need to succeed in the classroom. So far, this money has helped over 350 students in the district.

These grants have provided transportation for these students to get to and from school. The grants have also funded a new hire. Bridget Donovan, a teacher of over 35 years, was hired as the McKinney-Vento Specialist. Bridget has worked closely with families experiencing homelessness to provide clothing, tutoring, school supplies, meals, and hygiene supplies for students so they can be ready and focused on school, without worrying about other issues that could be on their mind.

 “A lot of time families who are housing insecure have weights on their shoulders, full of all kinds of life challenges. Some of that includes housing, job search, their own educational needs. So, if we can come to their own child's success by providing them with some extra resources, it’s a win, win for everybody,” said Donovan.

“The families that I work with are interested in being self-sufficient, they do want to give back to the community. They do want to be able to provide for their families and get an education so that the cycle can be broken,” said Donovan.

“It has really given us that boost to be able to wrap our arms around families who are experiencing housing and insecurity and help students get to school and get that education that’s so important,” said Donovan.

The grants also pay for referrals for both medical services, and mental health services. Bridget tells me these grants have not only allowed her to help families experiencing homelessness, but they have also allowed her to give these families a voice in their community and district.

So how much of this money is left for District 11 to use? One of the awarded grants was expended before winter break of last year. The remaining grant for this is a going to expire after the funds run out this year. But the need to provide these resources for students will not expire. Bridget tells me because of this, District 11 will continue to look for new grants so they can continue to offer this support to families.

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