Obstacle – Educating homeless families and students about available services and driving enrollment.
Solution – Empowerment Academy is a back to school event designed to assemble the key providers supporting our students and help prepare them for the new school year. Unlike any other, this event is targeted to homeless students and their families. In a fair-like environment with fun activities for the kids, we provide families access to representatives from organizations like Workforce Solutions, Goodwill Industries, Region 13 Homeless Services, Mis Cuentas, Foundation Communities, and the YMCA. Sharing knowledge on subjects such as college readiness and financial aid support to job training, and coordinating school supplies, haircuts and other back to school basics has made a very successful event that has become attended by hundreds of people each year. The cost of this program is about $4,000 each school year.
Koch Construction company volunteered to sponsor this event for the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 school years. Koch Construction is an Austin based company that is passionate about excellence and integrity in building practice and long lasting relationships in their work as well as in the community.
THE NOBELITY PROJECT STUDENT ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
Obstacle – Classroom participation and socialization decreases because students are required to buy their own supplies, pay their own lab fees or cover expenses related to out of classroom activities including graduation.
Imagine struggling through high school while homeless, earning your diploma and not being allowed to attend graduation because you cannot afford a cap and gown. Imagine sitting in 7th grade geometry with no protractor, or sitting in the 3rd grade with no folders, pens or pencils. Imagine having a love for music, qualifying for band but not being able to join because you cannot afford the program fees. Humiliation, despair, or a lack of ability to participate wears a student down, often to the point of dropping out. These very low cost items could in the end cost an entire education.
Solution – The Nobelity Project Student Assistance Program provides a constant supply of school gear kept on hand at the Project Help offices as well as a seamless process to request and receive funding for activity fees and other school related expenses.
We are thrilled to announce that Turk and Christy Pipkin from the Nobelity Project have agreed to sponsor this fundamental program. Turk and Christy co-founded The Nobelity Project, an education and action non-profit which seeks to find solutions to many pressing global problems, and which advocates for basic rights for children everywhere. The Nobelity Project will now make sure that kids get the items they need in the classroom on an everyday basis.
THE TWITCHELL MATH SPECIALIST PROGRAM
Obstacle – Becoming proficient in mathematics requires a student to master each conceptual level before moving to the next level. Students who transfer schools often develop gaps in their knowledge that prevent their success in the next level.
Solution – The Twitchell Math Specialist Program provides a dedicated math Specialist at Mathews Elementary, a school that receives students from the Salvation Army Emergency Shelter and has 10% of its students with a homeless status. Meeting with individual students and in groups on a daily basis the specialist helps identify and mend gaps in their math skills by incorporating different teaching techniques. In partnership with the Mathews Parent Teachers Association, our program sponsor, Paul Twitchell has has taken this opportunity to help provide what he knows is a critical skill for our kids.
Paul Twitchell has a distinguished career in financial services and is a partner with WhiteBox Advisors a Minneapolis and Austin based asset management firm.
SCHOOL OF SOCIAL WORK INTERNSHIP PROGRAM
Obstacle – Children in distress have difficulty learning and remaining focused and need more intensive services than a school can offer.
Solution – The CapCityKids / University of Texas School of Social Work Social Services Program is designed to help students respond to more serious matters like handling grief, abuse, or other mental, social, or health issues. Overseen by our full time Licensed MSSW, Kate Amerson, and implemented as a joint venture with the University of Texas School of Social Work, this program provides direct counseling and social services to our kids by placing UT Graduate students at several different AISD campuses. Kate Amerson spearheads this program with 23 years of experience. She was named Texas Field Instructor of the Year in 2000 and was recognized for her exemplary field instruction for the School of Social Work and proving herself a strong educator and leader who consistently prioritized student learning and coordinated social work services across campuses in AISD.
By pairing the need for graduate students to gain valuable field experience with our resources we are able to deploy 8 to 10 counselors for little more than the cost of one. We enjoy further leverage as most often our staff can match identified needs to existing community or government resources that may otherwise not be known to these children.
Currently this program is fully funded by Amherst Holdings partners and employees through general donations. The yearly budget is forecast to be $110,000 and covers 8-10 counselors and our Supervisor and provides about 6,000 hours of one on one counseling and service referrals.
THE MAIN STREET RENEWAL UNACCOMPANIED YOUTH PROGRAM
Obstacle – Each school year hundreds of families are listed as living in temporary living conditions. These families have multiple children, which makes it difficult to get the necessary things they need, especially around the holidays. For those families, resources such as Blue Santa exist to help lighten the load, but for some students that is not a possibility. There are at least one hundred students each year who enroll themselves independently in school and are not under the legal care of an adult; they are called unaccompanied youth.
Solution – The Unaccompanied Youth Program aims to identify these students that migrate from home to home between the ages of 12 and 18 and provide them with gift cards so that they may purchase themselves a gift for the Holidays. It is important that even they know that there is someone out there who is thinking of them.
Although each school year it varies, this program cost from $4,000-$6,000. The Nobelity Project agreed to sponsor this essential Holiday program for the 2016-2017 school year.
Beginning with the 2018-2019 school year, with the generous support of Main Street Renewal, we were able to expand this program to every community across the country where MSR employees live and work. In 2018, that was 2,334 kids in 29 cities in 17 states.