Homelessness in Minnesota 

On October 22, 2015 Wilder Research conducted a one-night statewide survey of homeless people in Minnesota. That night the group counted 9,312 homeless people and of those, 3,296 were children with their parents. Even though the overall count of homeless was down 12% from the previous survey conducted in 2012, 35% were still children.How does homelessness affect kids and their learning? The University of Minnesota and Minneapolis Public Schools published a study in 2012 that explained that students who experience homelessness or high mobility showed lower levels of reading and math achievement compared to their peers. That achievement gap either stayed the same or worsened as they approached high school. Why? Homeless children and families have more critical, perilous needs than others; their focus is spent seeking shelter, safety, and food rather than solving math problems and learning spelling words.

The Junior League of Minneapolis and our partners are striving to help close this gap.

We recently partnered with People Serving People, Minnesota’s largest comprehensive family-focused homeless shelter. With the emphasis on families, People Serving People has several programs available to school age children including providing resources to help kids attend classes in their home school and after school programs that help with homework and promote positive self-esteem.

Junior League of Minneapolis members have volunteered with People Serving People by leading fun math and science-based activities with groups of children. In addition, we recently piloted its own Book Bash program with People Serving People, a reading event where children and Junior League of Minneapolis members read stories together and create crafts and participate in activities related to the theme of the story. Most importantly, the event is designed to create a positive experience related to learning and provide a window of time for imagination and fun to thrive. Every child leaves the event with their very own copy of the story, a positive memento from the event as well as an avenue to continue reading on their own.

We are excited to continue building this relationship with People Serving People and assist them in helping to close the achievement gap among homeless children in Minnesota.

 

Sources:

Wilder Research, Minnesota Homeless Study. http://mnhomeless.org/minnesota-homeless-study/homelessness-in-minnesota.php#1-3457-g

http://discover.umn.edu/news/campus-community/first-its-kind-study-finds-homelessness-and-high-mobility-affects-academic

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