As the school year gets under way, some students are more prepared to learn than others. MMSD’s Transition Education Program works to make sure kids with the least resources at home feel comfortable and ready at school.
The program specifically helps students who are homeless get the supplies they need for school. Not just pens and pencils, but places to shower, do laundry and freshen up before the school day starts.
Now, Heartland Credit Union and other Madison businesses are gifting the program ten thousand dollars.
Transition Education Program Resource Teacher Jani Koester says they identified and served 1,200 kids in the Madison school district.
That number doesn’t account for families who don’t identify themselves as homeless, but still receive services because the program identifies them that way.
The program has a donation closet at the Doyle building downtown, where school counselors and social workers can pick up supplies like graphing calculators, snow pants or other materials homeless students might need.
The $10,000 donation is from Heartland, along with Cargo Coffee, Toot and Kates wine bar in Verona and Solidarity Realty. Koester says the money will mostly go to buy supplies for the donation closet.
“We really look at the needs of the kids from an educational lens,” Koester says.
The program implements the federal McKinney Vento Homeless act, which gives money to states for programs to alleviate homelessness. Each Madison public school has trained staff who identify and work to get services and supplies to students they identify as homeless.
“The donation closet is full of things year-round for social workers to access and hand out to the kids who need them the most,” Koester says. “The closet is put together mostly for homeless students to access through their social worker and their school staff, but we know that it trickles into other places to help prevent that homelessness piece.”
Heartland also held a fundraiser in 2014, which raised 34 thousand dollars for the program. That fundraiser focused on raising money for supplies homeless students might need to get ready before school — it installed washers and dryers in six Madison public schools and provided hygiene packs to homeless kids who might not have those supplies otherwise.
Heartland credit union spokesperson Jaime Meyer says they decided to pick the Transition Education Program a second time.
“We knew the need wasn’t going away,” Meyer says. “Even though we raised all that money, there was still a need to help these kids.”
The program has been in Madison schools for two decades.