Newsletter (June 20, 2023)

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SUNY Partners with SchoolHouse Connection to Support Homeless Students

Starting this fall, SchoolHouse Connection will partner with New York’s SUNY campuses to establish a Campus Homeless Liaison Learning Network. As Chancellor John King Jr. announced on May 31, 2023, during the SUNY State of the University address, each SUNY campus president will appoint a homeless liaison. The liaison’s role is to provide students experiencing homelessness with the academic, financial, and comprehensive support they need to succeed and thrive.

We appreciate the work that our partners Young Invincibles and New York’s Higher Education Basic Needs Coalition have done to lift up this important issue. Collectively, we are building support for policy reform needed in the state to bring about larger scale change. Senator Andrew Gounardes and Assemblywoman Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas are sponsoring bills that would do just that.

More work to be done

While grateful for all the great work being done to support SUNY students, we cannot forget about CUNY campuses. CUNY has been facing uphill battles over the last few years, and it is imperative that we strengthen CUNY’s response to youth experiencing homelessness.

1. Any former or current CUNY students experiencing homelessness are welcome to join us in advocating for homeless liaisons at CUNY. Contact Rodd Monts, SHC’s Director of State Policy.

2. Senator Gounardes introduced legislation, S4248, which, along with Assemblymember Gonzalez-Rojas’ bill, A4029, aims to establish a pilot program that will enhance the enrollment, retention, and success of students experiencing homelessness on SUNY and CUNY campuses. 

    California Spotlight: Legislative Advances for Homeless Youth in California

    June is a season of celebration, marking the beginning of summer, Pride month, and graduation. For many high school students, graduation brings forth a whirlpool of emotions: excitement, pride, anticipation, and joy. Unfortunately, for youth experiencing homelessness, this joy can be overshadowed by the anxiety of navigating college and adulthood. Despite these challenges, we are immensely grateful for the advocates who work tirelessly with youth, bridging the gap between high school and their future. In this newsletter, we’re excited to highlight the incredible work happening in California.

    • SB 333 (California SOAR Guaranteed Income Bill) – Passed the Assembly on June 6, 2023. This program aims to provide a guaranteed income of $1,000 per month for five months, specifically from April 1, 2025, to August 1, 2025, to eligible high school seniors experiencing homelessness. If the Legislature appropriates the necessary funds, the State Department of Social Services will establish the Success Opportunity and Academic Resilience (SOAR) Guaranteed Income Program.
    • SB 307. This bill would extend awards under the Middle Class Scholarship Program to community college students who are current or former foster youth pursuing transfer to a 4-year postsecondary educational institution, an associate degree, an associate degree for transfer, or a community college career technical education certificate. The bill would require the commission to create “The Fostering Futures Program” within the Scholarship Program. This means that more youth with both foster care and homelessness experiences can receive scholarships for college!
    • AB 789 – Passed the Assembly in May, now in the Senate. College can be challenging, with the stress of classes, finances, and on-campus activities often overwhelming students and occasionally impacting their academic progress. This bill aims to provide an opportunity for students experiencing homelessness to have their homelessness considered during the appeal processes for financial aid restrictions resulting from not meeting satisfactory academic progress standards.

    Our graduating youth stand at a critical juncture in their lives, and it is crucial to ensure they receive the necessary support for success in their next chapters. We extend our gratitude to our partners, including John Burton Advocates for Youth, National Center for Youth Law, Sycamores, and National Network for Youth, for leading the way in California and setting an incredible example for other states across the country.

      To find out about state policy initiatives in other states, please see our Q2 update here!

      Join SchoolHouse Connection’s Advocacy Network

      At SchoolHouse Connection, we believe the most effective solutions are informed by those closest to the problem. 

      That’s why we engage educators, advocates, youth, and parents with lived experience in our state and federal policy advocacy. We provide the training and tools to engage public officials in various state legislatures and the U.S. Congress, including by setting up and accompanying you in virtual meetings. Join us.

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