CHARLOTTE, N.C. — As schools switch to online learning this school year, there is a continued sense of urgency to make sure all students have access to laptops and WiFi. But what about the students who don’t have a roof over their heads?
That’s where several Charlotte area non-profits are stepping in. Together, the MSW Leadership Foundation, The West Side Education Think Tank and A Giving Heart Project are teaming up to provide safe learning environments for our area’s homeless students.
They say they need help from the community in order to make it happen.
In 2018, data from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools shows more than 4,500 CMS students were homeless. That number is likely higher today as COVID-19 has impacted jobs and the economy.
For some, being homeless might mean living in a car or at a shelter. For others, it can mean living on the streets.
“I met a young lady and her two sons who are 5 years old and 7 years old and they weren’t in a shelter, they were living on the street,” said Cynthia Johnson, Executive Director and Founder of the Myrtis Simpson Walker Youth Leadership Foundation. “I asked, you know, where are you living right now? And she said they were living uptown hoping to get housing.”
It's a struggle made worse as schools close their doors and switch to remote learning. With no school, there may not be food. Without housing, living conditions can be unstable and for some, there’s certainly no WiFi.
“The main concern is making sure they have a stable learning environment where at least they’ll have a place they can go to on a daily basis to make sure they’re getting those learning needs met,” Johnson said.
Determined not to let homeless students fall through the cracks, Johnson and the other non-profits are working to provide homeless students, safe, supportive learning environments throughout the community.
“We need big-time sponsors to make this happen,” she said.
Johnson said local churches and a soccer complex in Huntersville have offered up space, but said they need help from the community — volunteering, donating supplies or donating food, and help with transportation.
By lending a hand, she hopes these students can hold onto their dreams.
If you’d like to support this effort, Johnson’s said you can reach out by calling 704-491-0176.