Homework Starts with Home

Initiative Aimed at Ending Student Homelessness

Nearly 8,700 students experience homelessness in Minnesota’s public and charter schools based on fall student enrollment data for the 2017-18 school year. These students attend 1,239 different schools located in 312 different public and charter school districts across 76 of Minnesota’s 87 counties.

Homelessness and housing instability presents one of the most significant challenges for these students and their academic success:

  • Homeless and highly mobile students are more likely to be chronically absent, missing more than 10 percent of school days. Chronic absenteeism jeopardizes educational success. In fact, a student’s attendance through sixth grade predicts future educational attainment and the likelihood of graduation.
  • Only one in four homeless third-graders demonstrate reading proficiency, a rate that is 37 percent lower than their low-income but housed peers. Low reading proficiency in third grade correlates with significantly lower academic success in the future.

Homelessness disproportionally impacts students of color. Seventy-two percent of students facing homelessness are students of color. American Indian students are over-represented among students experiencing homelessness by a factor of 6.1. Black students are over-represented by a factor of 4.5. Homelessness also disproportionately impacts students with disabilities and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LBGTQ) youth.

To promote early identification and more effective responses to the needs of students facing housing crises, Minnesota Housing, the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE), the Minnesota Department of Human Services, the Minnesota Interagency Council on Homelessness, and the Heading Home Minnesota Funders Collaborative (collectively, “the Partners”) have developed an initiative called Homework Starts with Home. This initiative builds on the successful Rental Assistance Pilot for Homeless and Highly Mobile Families with School-Age Children.

A Request for Proposals for Homework Starts with Home will be released soon. Through this competitive process, the partners will award public and private funding to selected applicants. Minnesota Housing will award Housing Trust Fund rental assistance and Family Homeless Prevention and Assistance Program resources dedicated to the initiative and the Heading Home Minnesota Funders Collaborative will award philanthropic funding. All three types of resources may be braided together to support the applicant’s proposal, which can be managed and implemented under shared reporting expectations.

Based on prior feedback from a Request for Information and the Partners’ goals of building capacity among selected applicants and leveraging existing community resources and expertise, the Partners will request responses from collaborations that represent multiple entities that engage or support homeless students and their families, including schools, local governments, and nonprofits. The Partners encourage stakeholders interested in applying for these resources to develop preliminary plans to collaborate on this initiative now.

For more information about homelessness, see: