One year after receiving the SHC scholarship, scholars are flown to Washington, DC for an all-expenses paid 4-day trip for leadership development, policy advocacy, peer support, and fun. The DC Summit is one of the most important features of the Youth Leadership and Scholarship program, and a highlight of the year for scholars, young leaders, and SHC staff.
During the 2019 DC Summit, SchoolHouse Connection’s scholars shared their wisdom, insights, and experiences with congressional staff and U.S. Department of Education policymakers in Washington, D.C.. The students traveled from Wisconsin, Texas, North Carolina, California, Montana, Indiana, and Washington. All of the young people have experienced, or are experiencing homelessness, have graduated from high school and are either in college or recently completed college.
Speaking at a Congressional briefing sponsored by U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Steve Stivers (R-OH), Danny K. Davis (D-IL), and Dave Loebsack (D-IA), the scholars urged us to remember:
“Making assumptions is very dangerous. Homelessness looks different for everyone. Different people need different things and that should be reflected in policies.”
Scholars described barriers to education and health caused by homelessness, as well as the programs, policies, and people who made a difference and helped them to make it to high school graduation. They also spoke about the importance of a postsecondary education and supports they needed to be successful in higher education.
“When I transitioned into college, I had nothing. It was college or bust. There is so much to do with my life, but I know if I don’t do college, I have nothing left.”
Outside of official events, the students had lots of fun including riding scooters, exploring museums, and a night time monument walk. The DC Summit was a powerful time of connection and sharing and we are so thankful to all of our scholars for joining us.
At the 2018 SchoolHouse Connection DC Summit, SchoolHouse Connection’s Young Leaders shared their wisdom, insights, and experiences with congressional and U.S. Department of Education policymakers in Washington DC. The youth traveled from Alaska, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Missouri, Montana, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Washington state. All of the young people have experienced, or are experiencing homelessness, have graduated from high school and are either in college or recently completed college.
Speaking at a Congressional briefing sponsored by the Education Leads Home campaign, in coordination with U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), the young leaders urged us to remember that,
“There are millions of homeless youth and they still need our attention. Go find them!”
They spoke of the barriers created by homelessness, but also the people, programs, and policies that helped them get to the finish line of their high school graduation. Many also spoke about their aspirations for college and the importance of getting a postsecondary degree.
“My education and future have never meant more to me. Knowledge was my savior, a guiding hand that pulled me from a promised doom.”
Many thanks to Victoria Pasquantonio, Education Editor at PBS NewsHour, who moderated the event.
The youth had plenty of time for fun, too – visiting the monuments at night, museums, and lots of food!
At the 2017 SchoolHouse Connection DC Summit, SchoolHouse Connection’s Young Leaders shared their wisdom, insights, and experiences with congressional and U.S. Department of Education policymakers in Washington DC. Eleven students and four peer leaders traveled to the nation’s capital from across the country. All of the young people have experienced, or are experiencing homelessness, have graduated from high school and are either in college or recently completed college.
SHC’s Young Leaders took part in a Congressional briefing sponsored by SchoolHouse Connection, Civic Enterprises, America’s Promise Alliance, and the Institute for Children, Poverty & Homelessness, in coordination with U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). We are very grateful to America’s Promise Alliance for live streaming the event so that people all over the country can learn from these courageous young people.
There was plenty of time for fun, too – monuments, museums, and beating the sweltering DC heat!
Young Leaders’ Perspectives
Destiny, who will enter her junior year in college, wrote “One thing I wish I had known when experiencing homelessness is that help existed. I had no idea what Mckinney-Vento was. I had never even heard of a homeless liaison. I felt so alone. This was in large part because I was forbidden from talking about it by my family. But if I had known about the McKinney-Vento program it would have made a lot of things so much easier for me earlier on. I would not have had to spend four years struggling alone.”
Ed graduated with Highest Honors from a Blue Ribbon High School District in Illinois. He is a third-year Urban Studies student at Wheaton College. “This past June, my SchoolHouse Connection peers and I came from all over the U.S. to Washington, D.C. to speak truth — our truths — to power and to each other… Our time together was a revival of some sort … of resiliency, of being nurtured, and of past pain and trauma.”
Megan, age 20, graduated from the Anchorage School District, AK. She is majoring in Nursing at The University of Alaska, Anchorage. “I realized that I was an advocate. I wasn’t just a youth spinning a sob story to get someone’s attention. I was a young adult talking about the realities that homeless youth face. I faced these realities in my childhood, and I know that many others still face them, and will continue to face them in childhoods yet to come.”
Latte, graduated from Evergreen High School in Vancouver, Washington in 2015 and is an incoming senior at Portland State University, majoring in sociology. In this guest post in SchoolHouse Washington’s “Collaboratory” series, Latte Harris reflects on a recent youth summit and congressional briefing on student homelessness.
Morgan, who will enter her junior year in college, wrote “When homelessness began for me, I never felt comfortable talking to people about it because I did not want them to feel sorry for me, or judge me. I met so many young people like me, with SchoolHouse Connection’s young leaders in DC, and I knew I was in a safe place where I could talk about it and not be judged.”
Tia, a SchoolHouse Connection peer leader who will start dental school in the fall, said “Having the opportunity to serve as a peer leader, although heart-heavy, was therapeutic, empowering and good for the soul… One of the best things about bringing these students together is their ability to recognize the resilience, strength, and value of their peers.”