In April, 2015, The Homestretch Impact Campaign received a $15,000 grant from Fledgling Fund to leverage the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s American Graduate Initiative program with educators in 7 mid-size cities across the U.S. These cities were selected because they (1) show a significant increase in youth homelessness over the past five years; (2) their school district has a strong relationship with the National Association for The Education of Homeless Children and Youth; and (3) the local PBS affiliate has a strong American Graduate Initiative program.
The cities that were selected were:
Three months into the grant, some powerful, innovative initiatives are beginning to take hold…
A FOCUS ON TRANSPORTATION IN DETROIT, MI
Detroit, through their local affiliate, WTVS - Detroit Public Television, is using The Homestretch to support their citywide call to action to develop more transportation opportunities for homeless youth. They held a bike-a-thon on June 13 to raise money for bicycles (and accept donated bikes as well!). A screening of the film followed the bike-a-thon and included introductions by a city council member and local judge. After the film, a panel of youth discussed the film and local services were promoted. American Graduate was essential in promoting the event through their local affiliate. In addition, plans are starting to emerge to present the film (or a module) to the city’s transportation board.
STUDENT LEADERS COME TOGETHER IN ALBUQUERQUE, NM
In Albuquerque, a full-day event with local student leaders will use The Homestretch to inspire cross-district brainstorming around what students can do to support youth who are homeless in their schools. American Graduate is using their considerable network to bring other organizations into the planning and is also reaching out to the new superintendent of the district to support hosting the event in the school district building itself (ensuring a larger district administration presence).
THE HOMESTRETCH AS ESSENTIAL TEACHER TRAINING MINNEAPOLIS, MN
In Minneapolis, we are developing a teacher inservice that will use the film and discussion guide to allow teachers to earn continuing education credits. We are partnering with a local provider to host a large public screening that will also target district educators that will be provided information about how to bring the film and inservice to their schools.
A COMMUNITY IN CRISIS IN NASHVILLE, TN
There is currently no real task force around youth homelessness in Nashville. Homelessness as an issue is very prominent in their upcoming Mayoral election as it relates to the 100,000 Homes campaign and issues related to affordable housing. The program that was Nashville's Belfort House was just closed because they were cut $400k by the state. Nashville will use this opportunity to build a large scale community awareness campaign specifically to put pressure on the city and state to re-open that program. This includes:
1. Create a task force that is co-led by the single homeless youth program in Nashville. The task force will be comprised of all nonprofits that touch youth homelessness (even those that serve in a peripheral way), juvenile officers and child protection. At the first meeting of this new task force, they will show The Homestretch to bring everyone on board to the mission of transitional housing and the fantastic use of the film for public awareness. (July through summer)
2. Sept/Oct/November (although they might try to do all in November because of National Homeless Youth Awareness month) hold 4-5 targeted community screenings and “talk outs" that include local politicians and other influencers and the community at large. American Graduate is enthusiastic about these efforts and offered to host all the screenings (equipment, food, venue support)!
Through our work, we were able to connect representatives from American Graduate with the school district for the first time, forging an important partnership between public broadcasting and public education in Nashville.
Altogether, we are excited to move forward with these initiatives and the impact derived from them. We'll continue to release updates as our story develops. Follow our progress on homestretchdoc.com and join us on Facebook and Twitter.