Camas-based nonprofit helps homeless students succeed

Jeff Klein, The Columbian, Vancouver, Wash.
·3 min read

Feb. 28—Imagine being homeless and still having to do school work in order to graduate. Or just advance to the next grade level.

Family Promise of Clark County, a nonprofit based in Camas that helps families experiencing homelessness, jumped in to help students by launching its FP Cares Educational Services in November. Along with that came its Learning Support Center.

The learning center allows for homeless families participating in FPCC's programs to enroll their children for education support.

A $100,000 grant awarded to FPCC through the CARES Act will fund the program through the end of this school year.

FPCC's Executive Director David Cole said the program, conceived before COVID-19 arrived, is already making an impact for students in grades one through 12 after three months. In a few weeks, there will be 25 students enrolled.

He mentioned how one student who enrolled was a senior with four F's and on a path to not graduating.

"After one month in the program, this student has no F's and is now in a credit recovery program," Cole said. "The goal of graduation is not too far off. We're even setting up senior pictures!"

A program coordinator works with parents, children, teachers and counselors to develop an individual education plan. Volunteer tutors provide individual and group instruction every day.

"Students know they will receive help and someone will be checking on them," Cole said.

To accommodate learning and prevent young children from being left unattended as they work on their education, parents remain on site during the day in the new Family Promise Living Room, where they have access to case management and food. Interested parents can even enroll in a GED program to further their own education.

Family Promise of Clark County teamed up with PAX Learning Center, Camas School District, St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church and Grace Foursquare Church to find a way to help the children enrolled in FPCC's programs succeed in their education and to ease the increasing burdens on their parents.

Olivia Eagle, activities program director for Camas School District, has been a supporter of the program since its inception.

"Honestly, this partnership is a dream come true," Eagle said in a news release. "I have been wanting a resource like this for our students experiencing homelessness for a long time. Especially for our unaccompanied youth, who face so many barriers when trying desperately to succeed. Meeting the needs of these students requires creativity and wrap-around support. This is why community-based organizations like FPCC partnering with school districts is so vital in the work of closing the educational gap for them."

Cole said the program is always looking for volunteers, and a background in education isn't necessary but would help. Skills like keeping students on task and computer navigation will also help. Anyone interested can email info@familypromiseofclarkco.org.

FPCC is working to secure funding to continue the program beyond this school year through local fundraising and additional grants.