November is National Homeless Youth Awareness Month, an opportunity to recognize the struggles faced by young people who find themselves without a stable place to call home. In Sacramento County, Project TEACH is pivotal in addressing the unique challenges encountered by youth experiencing homelessness.
Operated by the Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE), Project TEACH provides technical assistance countywide to local education agencies, ensuring that children and youth experiencing homelessness have equal access to education and the support they need to thrive. Significant challenges—like the lack of consistent housing, limited access to basic needs, and difficulties maintaining education responsibilities—can quickly become a barrier to success. In 2022–23, Project TEACH brought awareness and helped remove barriers to education for more than 10,500 students in Sacramento. More than 242,000 students were identified as experiencing the struggle of homelessness statewide last year, up ten percent from the 2021–22 school year.
Project TEACH, which launched in 1989, is a testament to the belief that education can be a powerful vehicle for change, even in the face of adversity. “Students who don’t earn their high school diploma are more than three times as likely to experience homelessness,” said Tara Turrentine, Coordinator of SCOE’s Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program. “Connecting our youngest children experiencing homelessness to education programs sets a trajectory for success—from cradle to college. It’s an honor to bring visibility to youth and family homelessness because this is often an invisible population.”
This November, remember that every young person deserves a chance to succeed, regardless of their housing situation. Project TEACH, through its dedication and comprehensive services, is a shining example of a program that’s helping to make this vision a reality. To learn more, get details about accessing services, and find contact information, visit the Project TEACH website.
Project TEACH Details
Last school year, Project TEACH distributed nearly 200 backpacks, school supplies, and hygiene kits to family shelters. It reconnected 48 community students experiencing homelessness to enroll in school, and helped more than 300 SCOE students, stabilizing school enrollment. It also distributed 2,500 school supply kits, 4,000 dental kits, and 3,928 diapers to education agencies in Sacramento. Funding for the program comes from a California Department of Education (CDE) competitive grant through the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Improvements Act of 2001.
Helping Project TEACH collaborate with other local agencies on its important priorities, Coordinator Tara Turrentine holds a seat on Sacramento’s Continuum of Care Board and serves as a member of the Housing Families First Collaborative. She is also a member of the Homeless Youth Task Force.