Happy Spring! First, we are thrilled to introduce you to four new talented team members who have joined us here at SchoolHouse Connection – Bree, Camille, Lance, and Nikki. You can learn more about them and their contributions to our team below. And in case you missed it, here are the latest news, resources, and updates from the world of education and homelessness from January, February, and March.
Your SchoolHouse Connection Team
Meet Bree, Camille, Lance, and Nikki
➡️ Federal Policy Fellow
Bree Levy has joined the SchoolHouse Connection team as a Federal Policy fellow, working with federal, state, and local agencies to improve educational outcomes for students experiencing homelessness. Prior to joining the SHC team, Bree worked for four years at the Hawaii Department of Education’s Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program (EHCY).
Her role involved supporting and developing the state EHCY team in Hawaii, providing structural support to the program, and helping to shape strategy and action based on ongoing assessment of needs across the state. Bree worked within the larger student support continuum, focusing on utilizing longitudinal data systems to improve student attendance and address barriers to full participation in school.
Bree brings a background in supporting K-12 systems at the local and state levels. While in Hawaii, she focused on providing support to local liaisons, student re-engagement, alternative education, family engagement, and cross-population support to improve statewide educational outcomes for children and youth experiencing homelessness.
Bree has a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology with a minor in Global Studies from Azusa Pacific University, and a Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
➡️ Controller & Senior Manager for Operations
With a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from SUNY Old Westbury and an M.B.A in Economic Crime and Fraud Management from Utica University, Camille brings with her a wealth of knowledge and experience in accounting and fraud management. Camille has a love for numbers which gives her a deep expertise in nonprofit finance and operations.
Camille’s many years in her career has been concentrated in education and non-profit finance, where she has restructured and streamlined accounting and financial operations at several organizations with the goal of providing high-quality service and promoting practical yet compliant solutions to solve operational needs.
“There is no better feeling than being behind the scenes to help a non profit organization continue to succeed with the financial numbers to prove their success.”
➡️ Digital Marketing & Communications Associate
Lance Bordelon is a double graduate of Louisiana State University’s Manship School, with his B.A. in Public Relations and Master’s of Mass Communication specializing in Strategic Communications. His professional background in marketing and communications has primarily been in the areas of higher education, youth-focused nonprofits, mental health advocacy, as well as included over a decade as a freelance graphic designer.
He has been a creative, storyteller, designer, writer, and outspoken advocate in numerous professional and personal spaces throughout his life. He learned from an early age the power and gift of both education and resilience–valuing education above all else for not only unlocking doors but completely tearing down walls, empowering lives with unbridled potential and equity for all. This is the mission he is most passionate about and is thrilled to contribute to this work through SchoolHouse Connection. His years of working in professional theater and as an EFL educator in NYC have enriched his life with invaluable experiences, world travel, a deeper appreciation for diversity, and a stronger commitment to advocacy.
➡️ Education Initiatives Specialist
Nikki Hannon (Little Shell Cree/Blackfeet) is the Education Initiatives Specialist for SchoolHouse Connection. She was born and raised on the Blackfeet Nation in Montana. Nikki is passionate about supporting the needs of historically underserved students through building relationships with youth, creating communities of support, and advocating for students’ rights.
Nikki has over 17 years of experience working with Native American students, pregnant and parenting youth, and youth experiencing homelessness. She served in several capacities at the district level, starting out as the Director of Alternative Education where she collaborated with district and community leaders to create a dropout prevention program. She has since served as a certified K-12 school counselor, McKinney Vento and Foster Care Liaison, and most recently as the Director of the Parent Community Outreach program. In this role, Nikki directed a district-run childcare center, Hi-Set education program, and the “āissṗoōmmoǒtsiiyō•ṗ – We Help Each Other” Families In Transition program, which she expanded to include the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project and Kinship Program to support students being raised by family.
Nikki specializes in dropout prevention and centers her work on supporting Native American students in completing their high school education. She received her Master’s in Education in Risk and Prevention from Harvard University, as well as a Master’s in Education in Counselor Education from Montana State University-Northern. Nikki will lead SHC’s collaborative work with the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) to increase identification and support for students experiencing homelessness in BIE schools.
- [Video Resource] Tabitha Kramer, Supervisor at Berks County Intermediate Unit for Pennsylvania’s Education for Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness (Pennsylvania ECYEH), discusses her role in supporting young children experiencing homelessness.
- [Archived Webinar] Increasing Access to Early Learning for Infants & Toddlers Experiencing Homelessness
- [Archived Webinar] Using Data to Advocate for Infants & Toddlers Experiencing Homelessness in Pennsylvania
- [Archived Webinar] Home Visiting for Homeless Families
- [ARP-HCY Spotlight] Early Childhood Specialist in EdAdvance, Torrington, Connecticut (Early Childhood, Transportation)
- Bookmark this page dedicated to providing educators, policymakers, and advocates with valuable resources on how to best support immigrant and migrant families and youth, and help ensure that all students have the opportunity to succeed in school and beyond. (Related Webinar: Supporting Immigrant Students Experiencing Homelessness)
- [ARP-HCY Spotlights]
- Community Partnerships, Pinellas County Schools, Florida (Housing-related Supports, Capacity Building & Staffing, Wrap-around Services, Transportation)
- Bilingual Benefits Navigator, Monte Del Sol Charter School, in New Mexico (Capacity Building & Staffing, Wrap-around Services)
- Transcript Audits In Columbus City Schools, Ohio (Academic Support)
- Youth Empowerment and County Wide Mentoring, San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools (Academic Support, Outreach and Identification)
- We launched a Homeless Higher Education Liaison Learning Network in March and provided a space for homeless higher education liaisons to share best practices for supporting students experiencing homelessness and engage in professional development opportunities. We targeted seven states and have had over 40 people attended the first session. If you are a homeless higher education liaison, contact Jillian Sitjar, Director of Higher Education Partnerships.
- Youth experiencing homelessness face unique barriers in transitioning to and completing postsecondary education. One of the most significant barriers is access to financial aid; without financial aid, they cannot transition to and complete their college education, and remain at higher risk of continued homelessness and hardship as adults. It is important to remind students to fill out the FAFSA. These resources should help.
- Illinois has recently enacted a law, The Higher Education Housing and Opportunities Act (Public Act 102-0083), which requires or encourages the appointment of higher education liaisons for homeless and foster care students. This law is unique from other state laws in its requirements for liaisons. Moreover, the state also recently provided specific funding to help support the work of liaisons.
- [Archived Webinar] Federal Funding Outlook & Strategy on Child and Youth Homelessness
- In December 2022, the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) released “All In,” a new federal strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness. While the emphasis on equity and prevention are improvements over the previous four federal plans, “All In” ultimately falls far short of what is needed to prevent and solve homelessness in the United States. Learn why.
- The Pitfalls of HUD’s Point-in-Time Count for Children, Youth, and Families – In this brief, we explain why HUD’s data are flawed and misleading, and why other federal data sources provide a more accurate picture of child, youth, and family homelessness.
- Hidden Homelessness in the U.S.: Why Congress Must Change HUD’s Definition of Homelessness to Align With Other Federal Agencies – This FAQ addresses the problems with HUD’s definition of homelessness and presents potential solutions, while also highlighting the challenges faced and the progress made thus far.
2023 is shaping up to be a monumental year for legislators and advocates working to dismantle the barriers to sufficiency faced by youth experiencing homelessness across the United States. From access to medical care, shelter, and housing, to support for high school and college completion, SchoolHouse Connection is actively working alongside advocates in ten states to reform policies to support youth experiencing homelessness.
You, too, can join our efforts to advocate for change! Click here to join SchoolHouse Connection’s Advocacy Network.
Data and Research
- SchoolHouse Connection and Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan released searchable data profiles that make available—for the first time—data on child and youth homelessness at the county and congressional district levels, as well as the national, state, and school district levels. [Related Webinar: How to Use the Searchable Data Profiles] The data profiles are accompanied by two new analyses:
- Vulnerability & Prevention: Key Takeaways from Three New Homelessness Studies – Two new studies demonstrate the vulnerability of children and youth who experience homelessness, regardless of where they sleep, while a third study underscores the importance of addressing education and adverse childhood experiences in order to prevent youth homelessness.
Youth Leadership & Scholarship
- We are excited to welcome a new class of scholars to the SchoolHouse Connection family! Our 2023 scholars demonstrated dedication to their education, perseverance in overcoming barriers, and passion for higher education. We can’t wait to see what they accomplish as they pursue higher education and beyond!
- Carlos, a SchoolHouse Connection Scholar, shared his story on Chalkbeat to shed light on the challenges faced by homeless students. We want to extend our gratitude to McKinney-Vento liaisons like Sabra, and graduation mentors like Keri, who play a critical role in improving the lives of students experiencing homelessness.
SchoolHouse Connection in The News
A Surge in Funding for Homeless Students Is Waning. What Now?
Education Week – March 21, 2023
Growing Support for Foster Youth in College
Inside Higher Ed – March 13, 2023
More districts receiving dedicated homeless student funding, but rural areas still lag
Education Dive – March 10, 2023
The issues that arise when federal agencies define child homelessness differently
NPR – February 14, 2023
NYC funding proposal: Give extra weight to homeless students
Education Dive – February 7, 2023
I was 17, homeless, and alone. Here’s how my school helped me back on my feet.
Chalkbeat – February 6, 2023
Housing aid doesn’t always reach homeless youth. Here’s how educators aim to help
Georgia Public Broadcasting – January 24, 2023
These 4 charts explain federal fiscal 2023 K-12 spending
Education Dive – January 13, 2023
Thinking Outside the Bus
School Transportation News – January 4, 2023