These activities can be done school-wide or in individual classes.
Conscious Caring Curriculum
HCEF’s Conscious Caring Curriculum nurtures empathy and educates children about homelessness through a series of customizable lessons suitable for elementary grades. Literature, writing and art activities make the lessons fun and highly accessible. Teachers can extend the curriculum with suggested activities or create their own exercises. The curriculum includes copy-ready handouts and an accompanying book (Voyage to Shelter Cove by Ralph da Costa Nunez) and DVD (Home at Last).
HCEF staff and volunteers are available to visit any classroom, from elementary to high school, to speak about homelessness. For younger grades, we incorporate hands-on activities from our Conscious Caring Curriculum. For middle and high school grades, we may bring age-appropriate films to facilitate a class dialogue or small group activities.
On-Campus Awareness & Service-Learning
HCEF’s Outreach Team is ready to assist your school with campus-wide projects to get students, teachers, and parents engaged in thoughtful activities that raise awareness about homelessness in our communities. Below are is sampling of awareness projects that local schools have partnered with HCEF to produce:
- McIntyre Elementary – “Stand Up for Homelessness” Event
- Sewickley Academy – Campus-wide Day of Caring
- Diocese of Pittsburgh Schools – Poster and Essay Contest
- Shadyside Academy – Student-led Concert for a Cause
- Manchester Academic Charter – School Supply Drive
Homeless Children’s Awareness Week
Many people don’t yet realize the extent and effects of child homelessness. The purpose of Homeless Children’s Awareness Week is to change that. Each year HCEF organizes public events that shine a light on this issue. We encourage schools to help raise awareness by participating in these events, or organizing their own on-campus activities.
Homelessness is a growing problem across our region and throughout the United States. For students, the loss of a stable home can have severe impacts on their ability to learn and succeed in school. With over 15 years of experience serving homeless families in Allegheny County, HCEF has vital information and resources that can help educators meet the demands they face when homelessness comes to school.
Together with our partner organizations, including the Allegheny County Department of Human Services and the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, we offer an array of in-service training topics, such as:
- Homelessness and its impact on child development and learning
- Understanding the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act
- Finding resources in the community for families in need
- Best practices for school districts and classroom teachers
- Understanding the world of homeless housing programs
- Parent engagement
We will customize each in-service training according to your district’s needs. Additionally, we are available to present to other groups such as school boards, PTAs, SAP teams, and community groups.
Homeless Education Network
The Homeless Education Network (HEN) jumpstarts collaborative projects involving school districts, homeless providers, government agencies, and non-profits, with the ultimate goal of improving educational outcomes for children and youth without homes. The HEN provides rich opportunities for participants to network, share resources and information, and have an impact on policy that affects children and youth. The HEN is a project of the Homeless Children’s Education Fund in partnership with many other stakeholders.
Homeless Provider Partnerships
Looking to partner directly with a homeless housing provider in your area? HCEF can help your school identify opportunities to get involved. Past and current school-agency partnerships have included:
- “The Clairton Collaborative” – since 2010, HCEF has supplied resources to facilitate an active partnership between Clairton City Schools and Sisters Place, Inc. Through this initiative, district faculty and housing agency staff work closely to improve parent engagement, student success, and cross-system communication.
- Pittsburgh Public Schools – HCEF is partnering with PPS and local shelters on an effort to improve the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of transporting homeless students across district lines. In 2012, HCEF facilitated dialogue between PPS administrators and shelter-based after-school programs to promote mutual awareness and understanding.