Help End Youth Homelessness Through One-On-One Mentoring & Education
It is estimated that over 6,000 teens are homeless and living on the streets between Hillsborough and Pinellas Country, Florida. It's dangerous and damaging for kids. When a youth's parent can't afford to pay rent, they are forced to live wherever they can find shelter — in the backseat of their car if they have one, or more often, in public parks or behind buildings. This survival mode has a pejorative effect on the child's academics; school takes a back seat to primary needs such as hunger, clothing, and health. Without some sort of intervention, homelessness can become the child's norm, their expected future.
Teen homelessness is a brutal cycle, but Starting Right, Now (SRN) believes every teen deserves their needs to be met to have a fighting chance to graduate high school and set themselves up for future success. The key to their approach is a deeply holistic and personal way of getting involved with each teen's unique circumstances. SRN provides housing stability, food, access to preventive healthcare, academic support and life-skill classes - including financial literacy - so the teens learn how to manage and save money for their futures. But most importantly, each student is paired with a mentor who becomes their guide, advocate, and friend. A stable emotional rock of encouragement and hope.
SRN has propelled over 230 homeless youth to their next life-levels the past 11 years. Their program boasts a 97% high school graduation rate, a significant figure when compared to the vulnerable population in which they work. Upon completion of their program, each student (1) graduates high school, (2) receives acceptance to their post-secondary education goal (military, vocational training, higher education), (3) earns scholarships and financial aid to minimize debt, (4) secures saved funds as reported on bank statements, and (5) demonstrates improved mental, emotional and physical health through reduction in hazardous behavior. SRN’s 2018 senior class all earned their high school diplomas, had a GPA increase of 0.53 and secured $10,959.63 in saved funds. In total, this class earned $1,100,221 in scholarships and financial aid to eliminate debt for their post-secondary education.