Press Release

Advocates Set New Goal to Graduate 90 Percent of Homeless Students by 2030, Enroll 60 Percent in College by 2034

Launches new national campaign, Education Leads Home, led by four nonprofit partners, at SXSW EDU today.

AUSTIN, TX – Today, SchoolHouse Connection, the Institute for Children, Poverty and Homelessness (ICPH), Civic Enterprises and America’s Promise Alliance launched Education Leads Home, a first-of-its-kind national campaign focused exclusively on addressing the needs of the 1.3 million homeless students enrolled in America’s public schools. 

A brief program will take place at the Opening Session at SXSW EDU tonight to commemorate the launch and will include 10 young scholars from around the country, who have experienced homelessness.  They will each receive scholarships to attend college in the fall. 

The campaign, which seeks to focus on homeless students at every stage of academic development, set three goals for the country: young children experiencing homelessness will participate in quality early childhood programs at the same rate as their housed peers by 2026, high school students will reach a graduation rate of 90 percent by 2030, and post-secondary students will reach an attainment rate of 60 percent by 2034. 

“Homelessness among students is more than just a housing problem. It impacts every aspect of a person’s life,” said Barbara Duffield, executive director, SchoolHouse Connection. “Education is key to breaking the cycle of poverty and establishing economic mobility. It’s the only way we can prevent today’s homeless children and  youth from becoming the next generation of homeless adults.”

“Students are experiencing homelessness in over 75 percent of school districts across the U.S., and those are just the ones that have been identified; this is an issue that impacts all of us from rural Texas to the suburbs of LA to New York City,” said Liz Cohen, chief of staff, ICPH.  “When we remove the barriers to educational success faced by homeless students, our data shows that they can thrive.”

According to the report Hidden in Plain Sight, students experiencing homelessness are 87 percent more likely to dropout of school than their stably housed peers.  New research states that without a high school diploma, youth are 4.5 times more likely to experience homelessness later in life. Furthermore, more than 95 percent of jobs created during the economic recovery have gone to workers with at least some college education, while those with a high school diploma or less are being left behind. More and more research supports the charge to pay closer attention to the educational needs of homeless students to help break the cycle of poverty.

“Although student homelessness is a challenging problem, we believe it is a solvable one,” said Erin Ingram, policy advisor at Civic Enterprises, and lead author of the Hidden in Plain Sight report. “Schools have a critical role to play in identifying homeless students, and connecting them and their families to the supports they need to help them regain stable housing, and stay on track to get a quality education fundamental to their success in life. These students cannot afford to miss out on the opportunity to complete the critical first step of a high school diploma due to homelessness.”

Inspired by perspectives from families and students, Education Leads Home will focus on raising awareness of the challenges faced by this population of students. The campaign will encourage high-quality learning practices aimed to eliminate disparities in access to quality early childhood programs, work toward raising high school graduation rates, and create more pathways to postsecondary attainment.  From early childhood education through college, Education Leads Home will use evidence-based strategies to improve outcomes for some of our nation’s most vulnerable students.

This year is the first time in which all states are required to track graduation rates among homeless students to meet standards set by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). As ESSA is implemented, Education Leads Home will monitor states’ progress and identify and share best practices to improve students’ outcomes in communities across the country. Furthermore, this new data will allow experts and policymakers to see where improved policies and additional resources are needed to keep students on track to graduate. 

“There are more than 1.3 million students homeless in America’s public schools – and even more are unseen and underserved,” said John Gomperts, president and CEO of America’s Promise. “Thanks to ESSA, we now have rules in place to help identify students’ needs, but we also have to support teachers to make sure those policies reach the students they were made to serve. That’s why this campaign is so important. By sharing promising practices, supporting schools and working across sectors, we can make sure all students have a chance to reach their full potential.”

For more information, visit www.educationleadshome.org or follow the conversation on Twitter as we live tweet the panel talk on March 6 at SXSW EDU, The Invisible Million: Homeless Students in the U.S. You can also join the conversation using #EDULeadsHome or #InvisibleMillion.

SchoolHouse Connection works to overcome homelessness through education. We provide strategic advocacy and technical assistance in partnership with schools, early childhood programs, institutions of higher education, service providers, families, and youth. Our vision is that children and youth experiencing homelessness have full access to quality learning, birth through higher education, so they will never be homeless as adults, and the next generation will never be homeless. www.schoolhouseconnection.org

The Institute for Children, Poverty, and Homelessness (ICPH) is a New York City-based policy research organization focused on family homelessness in New York City and throughout the United States. www.icphusa.org

Civic Enterprises is a social enterprise firm that works with corporations, nonprofits, foundations, universities and governments to develop innovative campaigns and public policies in the fields of education, national service, civic engagement, conservation, public health and more. We work with organizations that seek to challenge the status quo and grow their impact for the greater good. Working closely with clients to determine what they need to better engage with their stakeholders and serve their constituents, we specialize in research and policy development, strategy and coalition building, state and federal policy analysis, and strategic communications. www.civicenterprises.net

America’s Promise Alliance is the nation’s largest network dedicated to improving the lives of children and youth. It brings together more than 400 national organizations and thousands of community leaders to focus the nation’s attention on young people’s lives and voices, lead bold campaigns to expand opportunity, conduct groundbreaking research on what young people need to thrive, and accelerate the adoption of strategies that help young people succeed. GradNation, its signature campaign, has helped to increase the nation’s high school graduation rate to a record high. To learn more, visit www.AmericasPromise.org

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The SXSW EDU® Conference & Festival cultivates and empowers a community of engaged stakeholders to advance teaching and learning. The annual four-day event affords registrants open access to engaging sessions, immersive workshops, interactive learning experiences, film screenings, early-stage startups, business opportunities and networking. SXSW EDU is a component of the South by Southwest® family of conferences and festivals. Join the passionate and innovative community at SXSW EDU, March 5-8, 2018 in Austin, Texas. For more information, please visit http://www.sxswedu.com.