When I write these posts I try to come up with a catchy headline.
I try to say something that will make you stop a second and consider clicking into read the rest of the story.
If 2200 homeless kids in Akron sounds about right, sounds like an understandable number, sounds like something you can live with... well please just stop reading. You aren't my audience.
Two thousand two hundred kids will be homeless the 2015-2016 school year in Akron Ohio.
How do I know that? I got to spend some time with the amazing people at Project RISE. They give supplemental educational services to homeless Akron kids.
They helped 1800 homeless kids last year. They expect that number to increase by 400 this year.
It has increased every year since the Great Recession.
Debra Manteghi, the program director, has an incredibly interesting perspective on our communities. She has a front row seat to parts of our community I didn't even know existed.
Here are some quick facts that made an impression on me:
- There are nearly 50,000 homeless kids in Ohio.
- Roughly 2000 kids are homeless in Akron.
- Project R.I.S.E. drives about 100 kids A DAY all over town, no matter where they are currently staying, to keep them going to the same school.
- There are 10 shelters in Akron that offer after-school programs.
- There are many families who are "doubled up." These are people that don't have housing but are on a waiting list to get into a shelter. So they just move from house to house to house.
- A national report (sorry, I can't remember which one) has found that homeless kids tend to do better in public schools.
- There is an ongoing increase in drug use and mental health issues with the homeless.
- Among industrialized nations, the United States has the largest number of homeless women and children.
- 84% of families experiencing homelessness are female-headed.
- Over 92% of homeless mothers have experienced severe physical and/or sexual abuse during their lifetime.
- By age 12, 83% of homeless children had been exposed to at least one serious violent event.
- 1 of every 4 homeless women is homeless because of violence committed against her.
- There is a segment of these kids classified as "unaccompanied youth." They are out there on their own.
- Project RISE created "PACT" (Performing Arts Can Teach) where they take homeless families to arts events throughout the city.
- Project RISE gives out about 15 monthly bus passes to high school kids every week.
- Homeless kids are the fastest growing group of homeless in Akron and America.
- Project RISE is the ONLY group solely dedicated to homeless kids in Akron.
This meeting had a profound impact on me.
A: I didn't have any idea of the extent of homeless kids in Akron.
B: I didn't have any idea we had a group as awesome as Project RISE in Akron.
If you would like to learn more, here are a couple links for Project RISE:
Project RISE Website
Project R.I.S.E. on Facebook
Here is their contact information:
70 North Broadway
Akron, Ohio 44308
If this inspires you, these are the things they need:
- Financial contributions help tremendously.
- School supplies
- Hygiene items
- New underwear
- New shoes for boys and girls.
- Gift cards. They can only get donated gift cards. Project RISE isn't able to buy them themselves. Smaller increments are better.
They have a cloths room where they take these things. So you could just call them or email them and let them know you have some stuff you could give them.
I'm also happy to take stuff if it's easier for you. I'm at 15 Broad St. in Akron.
In keeping with my whole "No Feet Left Behind" concept, I've started a GoFundMe for Shoes for Homeless Kids. $12 will get them a brand new pair of shoes, which is a HUGE need.
You can learn more here: