Foundations Launch Initiative to Support Homeless Students in Washington State

Foundations Launch Initiative to Support Homeless Students in Washington State

The Raikes Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have announced a partnership aimed at helping help thirty-five thousand homeless students in Washington secure the support and stability they need to thrive.

Working with the Paul G. Allen Family and Campion foundations, the foundations will commit more than $1.8 million in support of the Schoolhouse Washington initiative, which will identify and fund innovative approaches that address the needs of homeless students, their families, and their schools. Administered by Non-profits Building Changes and Columbia Legal Services, the initiative will focus initially on schools and service providers in King County. Building Changes also will partner with Columbia Legal Service to advocate across the state for effective student homelessness policies.

Since the 2006-07 school year, the number of K-12 students who experience homelessness in Washington's public schools has increased some 111 percent — a population that includes a disproportionate number of African-American and Alaskan Native/Native American students, who are three times more likely to experience homelessness than their white peers. Historically, only half of students who experience homelessness graduate high school on time — a rate lower than the that for all other groups except students in foster care.

"We have an undeniable window of opportunity to reverse the trend on student homelessness in Washington," said Tricia Raikes, co-founder of the Raikes Foundation. "There's a growing need for action and our state has the cross-sector support it will take to be a trailblazer for the nation on the issue. Schoolhouse Washington is philanthropy's commitment to capitalizing on this opportunity and we know it will take a collective effort. We'll be looking to schools, service providers, and community partners for promising ideas that move the needle for students facing homelessness."