Polk County Public Schools has received a grant that will allow us to provide much-needed assistance to students who became homeless as a result of hurricanes during the 2017-18 academic year.
“This funding allows students to take advantage of academic activities they wouldn’t have had otherwise. It was a quick turnaround to secure this funding, but we recognized that it would help our students — so we went for it,” said Dee Dee Wright, senior coordinator of special programs.
Just before the district closed for winter break, PCPS learned of an opportunity to apply for the Hurricane Education Recovery Assistance for Homeless Children and Youth grant. District personnel quickly organized to submit their application by the Jan. 11 deadline.
The hard work paid off earlier this month, when the district was informed it had received $133,624 to provide services to students who experienced homelessness as a result of the hurricanes during the 2017-18 school year, and who are currently identified as homeless.
“Students experiencing homelessness have a tendency to fall behind academically, so we are trying to provide extra academic support,” Wright said.
The grant will pay for services including tutoring, summer school, mentoring, and transportation to those activities. The funds will also possibly assist families of homeless students with medical and dental expenses, Wright said.
“After enduring a traumatic event and the loss of their home, worrying about performing academically is the last thing the students need,” Wright said. “This funding allows students to take advantage of academic activities that they wouldn’t have otherwise.”
Staff members from the district’s HEARTH (Homeless Education Advocates Restoring the Hope) program will coordinate with schools to identify students who qualify for grant services.
Polk County currently has 2,400 students identified as experiencing homelessness.
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