Hope Through Learning Award

The Hope Through Learning Award is a $2,500 award available to youth age 24 and under residing in Allegheny County who are experiencing or have experienced homelessness during their school attendance years, and who are going on to a higher education or career training program for the first time. Homelessness is defined as lacking a fixed, regular, and adequate night-time residence, and includes students living in a shelter, car, motel, doubled-up situation, or places not meant for human habitation. Recipients can use their award for tuition, school-related expenses such as books or a computer, or living expenses, such as transportation, child care, or housing.

How can I apply?

  1. Review the eligibility criteria:
    • Experiencing or has experienced homelessness during school attendance years. Homelessness is defined as lacking a fixed, regular, and adequate night time residence, and includes students living in a shelter, car, motel, doubled-up situation, or places not meant for human habitation, or lacking permanent housing.
    • Currently residing in Allegheny County
    • 24 years of age or younger
    • Accepted into a post secondary education or career program (e.g. college, university, community college, business school, technical school, vocational school, career training, internship, apprenticeship) for the first time, and are scheduled to begin classes/training before the end of 2020.
    • High school graduate, GED recipient, or due to complete secondary education at the end of the 2019-20 school year
  2. Application Requirements:
    • Online application form: All sections must be completed including essay submission
      • Essay: One to two pages. Please respond to each item. (Applicants must demonstrate writing style and ability.)
        o Describe your experience with homelessness. (Applicants must demonstrate compelling challenges due to homelessness.)
        o How has your experience with homelessness affected your education? How have you overcome the challenges of housing instability to succeed in school? (Applicants must demonstrate a commitment to education despite challenges associated with homelessness.)
        o What do you think should be done (or what would you do) to increase awareness or address the issue of student homelessness?
    • Most Recent High School Transcript (Applicants must demonstrate academic achievement and accomplishments.)
    • Copy of Post-Secondary Program Acceptance Letter
    • Two Letters of Recommendation: Letters should be on letterhead and include the author’s title, address, phone number, email address, and signature. Examples include teachers, mentors, clergy, community leaders, case managers, or homeless housing staff, excluding family.
  3. Complete the application through the online form and mail or email your most recent transcript, acceptance letter, and letters of reccomendation to:
    • info@homelessfund.org
    • Homeless Children’s Education Fund
      One Hope Square
      1901 Centre Ave, Ste 301
      Pittsburgh, PA 15213
    • Note: due to COVID-19 school closures, we understand there may be difficulty getting transcripts and letters of rec in. If you are having trouble, contact Kelly Dasta at kdasta@homelessfund.org and we can work something out. 

More assistance

Looking for more resources and tips?  Check out our resource page for higher education and career resources.

high school graduates received the Hope Through Learning Award in 2019.

Meet the 2019 awardees:

  • Alivia graduated from Western Beaver Junior Senior High School and will be attending Penn State Beaver. She plans to study Psychology with the hopes of opening a Christian-based therapy nonprofit post-grad.
  • Angela is a graduate of North Allegheny Senior High School and is currently in a summer program at Lock Haven University. She is majoring in international relations, planning to become a diplomat.
  • Jeramaya will be attending Lehigh University after graduating from Shadyside Academy. He plans to major in Finance to become an investment banker.
  • Markiece graduated from University Prep with plans to attend CCAC in the fall. He hopes to become a medical diagnostic sonographer while pursuing his singing career on the side.
  • Sarah will likely be attending Waynesburg University after completing homeschooling. She plans to major in creative writing, and she has a passion for film and the arts.
  • Tyriese is a graduate of West Allegheny High School and will be attending Pittsburgh Technical College. He intends on pursuing welding while working part time.

For more information on the 2019 awardees, see this Post-Gazette article

What Awardees Are Saying:

"I am very thankful and excited about this opportunity to help further my education and brighten my future, so then I can one day be in the position to help others."
"The award was one of the best things that ever happened to me."
"Most of my peers were already planning on attending college, but I was trying to figure out what to do next as far as having a roof over my head."
"I have the passion to make a difference and guide children as they grow. I want them to know that they can do it and never give up."

For more information, contact HCEF’s Marketing & Program Assistant.