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Press Release

Friday, May 3, 2013

DOE Press Office

Seven Florida School Districts Receive Funding for Homeless Youth Education

Tallahassee, Fla., May 3, 2013 - From new bicycles to washers and dryers, homeless students will now have more tools to accomplish their learning goals. The Florida Education Foundation, Wells Fargo and the Florida Department of Education have created a statewide grant that provides up to $15,000 for school districts to help unaccompanied homeless youth. The school districts receiving grants are Lake, Leon, Manatee, Nassau, Palm Beach, Santa Rosa and St. John's County.

As part of its contribution, Wells Fargo will offer a helpful financial literacy program called Hands on Banking to participating students. Connie Smith, Wells Fargo's senior vice president and community affairs manager for Florida, provided the initial impetus after she attended the 2012 Southeast Institute on Homelessness and Supportive Housing.

"I was impressed with the innovative ways that school districts work with community partners to assist homeless high school students who are trying to make it on their own," said Smith. "The motivation and dedication of the students to their education was truly remarkable."

Many of the districts' projects include coordinating tours and introductions to area colleges and universities for homeless high school juniors and seniors who are on a graduation track. Students will receive assistance in completing college applications for admission and financial aid, and those who continue on to college will receive laptop computers.

"The beauty of this program is that it will remove barriers for homeless students who are on track to graduate," said Mary Lee Kiracofe, executive director of the Florida Education Foundation. "It's a wonderful example of public-private partnership and it will benefit many students throughout the state.

Other projects include the following:

  • Nassau County school district will purchase bicycles to help participating students overcome transportation challenges for getting to work.
  • Palm Beach County school district will install washer/dryer sets at two high schools so homeless students can keep their clothes clean for school and work.
  • Leon County school district will provide local transportation passes for participating students and financial support for graduation-related activities and expenses such as caps and gowns.
  • Both St. John's and Nassau County school districts will offer life-skills training to participants.

Smith believes the Homeless Unaccompanied Youth Education grant program is the best opportunity to move homeless youth in a positive and productive direction. "These students are on their own, under very challenging circumstances, and yet still attend to school and hold down jobs. It is important that we do our part. We challenge all of Florida's business community to invest strategically in our youth."

To learn more about the foundation's innovative programs, visit Florida Education Foundation.

Mary Lee Kiracofe - Sound Bite (WMA, 216KB)

Mary Lee Kiracofe - Executive Director - Florida Education Foundation