Community partnership helping homeless students is up and running
“This is really about homeless youth, it’s in our strategic plan to reduce poverty in Topeka and we have to do something," USD 501 Superintendent Dr. Tiffany Anderson said.
Topeka Public Schools is partnering with the Topeka Rescue Mission, City of Topeka, and other community agencies for the Impact Avenues program.
Impact Avenues is a new program created to help students and their families with obtaining stable housing. The program plans to reduce student poverty by more than 50 percent in three years.
“Ultimately our role is to empower families and our role as a partner is going to be a key player in breaking the generational cycle of poverty and reducing homelessness in the city of Topeka," Dr. Anderson said.
It is estimated more than 600 students in Shawnee County are impacted by homelessness.
The amount of resources to provide for families comes at a cost, but many agencies reached out to help provide resources for this initiative to reduce homelessness, according to the district.
"We want to wrap all those partner agencies around our families and maximize the resources in the community to help that family get into housing, but more importantly stay in housing and get the resources they need," Housing Services of City of Topeka Community Engagement Coordinator Corrie Wright said.
Fifteen families have been selected for the program to receive wraparound services and the program expects to continue to add more families each week.
"We're helping children who are homeless, but it’s a two-generational thing by helping the parents. We help the parents by teaching them some things they were never taught by helping them with the goal setting and all those issues,” Impact Avenues Coordinator Corrie Higgins explained.
Impact Avenues not only address immediate needs, but they provide long-term resources.
“It's taking each issue, each barrier that they have and walking with them to figure out how we fix that, making goes, the education piece, the classes that they attend,” Higgins said.
"It's really about lifting up those families who are struggling. When we lift those families who really need help, we lift our entire community,” Carr said.
Families must meet certain criteria to enroll and once they finish the program, Impact avenues continues to have resources for them.
On how to apply or contribute to the ongoing expenses for the program,