North Fulton takes stand for homeless students

Volunteer group helps kids stay in school



ALPHARETTA, Ga. – Fact: There are students in North Fulton’s prestigious schools who are homeless.

The realization of this is often a surprise for people accustomed to the “quality of life” espoused by North Fulton.

Often, school comes second to worrying about the roof over their head. To help with this problem, the North Fulton-based Stand Up for Kids helps the students stay in school until they graduate.

Most North Fulton schools have at least one student who counts as homeless. This does not necessarily mean they live under bridges. They could live in a car, or with their family in an extended stay hotel or on a sofa in the friend’s house.

“I was definitely surprised,” Stand Up for Kids North Fulton Initiative Chair Sue Levine said. “Oh no, not here. People don’t realize there’s so much poverty and homelessness here. It’s gotten worse as the economy got worse.”

The students are identified by the school social workers and recommended to the program. Independence High School was the first school to roll out the program.

“[Former] IHS Principal Amelia Davis embraced the program,” said social worker Dallas Campbell, “and the program has just grown under Principal Tabitha Taylor.”

Stand Up for Kids is a national program, and Levine began the North Fulton initiative.

To stay in the program, the students have to meet with volunteers regularly, attend school regularly, maintain a C average in school and be actively looking for work. The only exception is that teen moms don’t need to look for work.

Three North Fulton high schools participate in the program – Cambridge, Independence and Roswell.

There are 19 kids in the program. Using volunteers, Standup for Kids provide guidance, tutoring, parenting help and give educational goals to the students.

Before the North Fulton program was begun, there was only the Atlanta office, so North Fulton’s homeless children had to go downtown for any help. Now, they can stay in their high school.

“I wanted to do something closer to home,” Levine said. “This is in-school outreach instead of off-the-street help.

“We are very proud of our success rate,” said Levine. “Eighty-five percent of the students in the program have graduated or remained in school.”

homeless, student

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