Lacking stable housing is linked to a myriad of social, emotional, academic and physical limitations. Students who transfer schools more frequently than average experience lower graduation rates and lower levels of student success. Not only do frequent moves negatively impact their educational prospects it also has a detrimental effect on their classmates and teachers. Moving homes is the primary reason for transferring, not academic or disciplinary reasons. Most students who transfer schools frequently come from single-parent households, with parent who have low levels of education themselves and who are struggling financially. Sadly, students who move frequently experience higher rates of absenteeism and tardiness, perpetuating a cycle of inequality. The younger the child, the more devastating the consequences.
In 2015, there were 7,170 students living in homeless or near homeless conditions in Monterey County. These students are living in crowded apartments, converted garages and other places not meant for human habitation. This number has increased each of the past five years. United Way's first response to this crisis was to spearhead Stuff The Bus, a backpack drive to send vulnerable children to school with the needed supplies and increased confidence necessary make the most of their potential. In 2015, Stuff the Bus distributed 2,185 backpacks to the most needy students throughout our county. Despite this, more can be done.
To further help these students, UWMC is partnering with Catholic Charities to combat the root of this problem: housing instability. United Way will invest $300,000 to bring about Pathways to Stability, which is committed to supporrting stable living conditions for our school-age children. By helping both children and parents develop financial literacy, providing one-time security deposits and other services, Pathways to Stability will provide families achieve the stability and security their children need to for academic and personal success.