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Family Promise creates space for homeless students to learn

For the kids they’ve helped over the last 6 years, they know school is the only constant. So, they found a way to make sure that stability didn’t go away.
Published: Sep. 11, 2020 at 5:11 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - (9/11/2020) - Many students across mid-Michigan are finishing up their first week of remote learning.

It has brought new challenges for families, but the new way of learning has been especially tough for children without a place to call home.

So, Family Promise of Genesee County is providing a safe, accessible place where homeless kids can learn.

The non-profit has a unique model. They assist families going through a housing crisis get back on their feet and into a home. For the kids they’ve helped over the last 6 years, they know school is the only constant. So, they found a way to make sure that stability didn’t go away.

“It’s not about judging parents that are unable to provide those things. It’s about helping them, and giving them a hand up,” Executive Director Tiffani Ferrier said.

That’s their model -- a hand up, not a hand out.

Typically, Family Promise would be providing families with a place to stay right now. But the COVID-19 pandemic has created some barriers; because they house families at night in churches across the County, which are closed right now.

The families have 60 days to save up money, connect to resources and get back on their feet to get into a home they can call their own.

“We usually graduate, on average, 13 families a year. And while that doesn’t seem like a lot, you have to understand that we’re roughly at about 93% of those families are still stable,” Ferrier said.

Ferrier is reaching out to those families and families struggling as a result of the pandemic who are in their eviction prevention program to offer a safe, comfortable place where their kids can - in a way -  go to school.

“So this is kind of a space for them to get into that, to get into the educational part and have the consistency, have the same smell, have the same, you know, food and I hope that that’s what this brings them more than anything,” she said.

It’s the one constant the kids have always known.

When they come here to what’s been named the Education Lab, Ferrier said they’ll have access to a library of books and computers with webcams for their remote learning. Food will be provided, too.

“As long as they’re going to use it, I’m going to let them come, that’s, that’s the basis of it,” Ferrier said.

Family Promise does not receive federal or state assistance. Ferrier said it’s their generous donors who have made this possible.

Copyright 2020 WJRT. All rights reserved.

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