WHAT: Homeless Children’s Education Fund (HCEF) has been awarded a  $235,000 grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation to initiate a  pilot Mobile Learning Program for families who are experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity. The program will complement its existing after-school and summer programs in supportive housing agencies for children, Kindergarten through 8th Grade. The pandemic has exacerbated the challenges for those with housing insecurity. The Mobile Learning initiative is a way to meet families where they are living – be it with friends or extended family. Over 7 in 10 housing insecure families do not live in shelters; most are bouncing from home to home. The pilot Mobile Learning Program is designed to expand our ability reach more families, by offering programs in a home-based or community setting that will encourage literary, social/emotional development and healthy parent child interaction. The grant will enable us to hire a new staff member with education expertise, who will coordinate a range of services to families that may include literacy, speech pathology, STEAM programs and human service and mental health referrals. We will partner with families,  providing encouragement and resources as they advocate for their  child’s educational success.    

WHY: There are over 3100 children and youth in the Allegheny County who  are experiencing homelessness. Among this population, academic success and literacy rates are much lower than that of stably-housed students, due in part to the trauma that homelessness and other  family stressors cause. 

The pandemic made life more difficult for students, especially those experiencing homelessness. Families already under severe economic pressures faced increasing hurdles brought on by remote learning,  and fear of illness. We helped one mother who was struggling with  logging in for her child’s zoom instruction. Even though our programs  were remote, one of our staff went to her home at a hotel, to give a  personal, hands-on guidance and necessary educational materials.  Both the mother and daughter were so grateful, and it underscored  for us the importance of meeting families where they are—in the  larger community.  

The pilot Mobile Learning program is a new way to reach families to  address learning loss and give families and our school partners  additional support when it is critical. HCEF Executive Director Carlos  T. Carter states, on behalf of the board and staff of HCEF: “We are so  honored and grateful for this show of support from Richard King Mellon, for their commitment to making our region a strong community for children, and for their show of confidence in HCEF to  make an impact with Mobile Learning. This was one of our dreams  before Covid-19, and now it is becoming a reality, as we all re examine the most effective ways to impact large systems and truly improve lives.”

About HCEF: 

The mission of the Homeless Children’s Education Fund (HCEF) is to advance the education of children and youth experiencing homelessness in Southwest  Pennsylvania, guiding them to be productive, empowered citizens.  

For 23 years, HCEF has built a track record in raising awareness for this unique  population and in delivering targeted programs and services. These services  include tutoring, mentorship, scholarships, positive mental health curriculum,  college and career planning, backpack drives, and cultural and STEAM enrichment  opportunities. HCEF also facilitates and collaborates with homeless organizations  and providers to advocate for the unique needs of youth experiencing  homelessness.

Carlos T. Carter, is a native Pittsburgher and the executive director of the Homeless Children’s Education Fund (HCEF). Prior to joining HCEF, he was a consultant for Holy Family Institute/Holy Family Academy and held various VP roles in the banking industry for more than 15 years. He has a passion for helping under-served children and families and continues to build upon the 18-year HCEF foundation. He has received many accolades, including being a 2019 Lead Now Pittsburgh Fellow, the Pittsburgh Magazine 40 under 40 Award, National Diversity Multicultural Leadership Award, and New Pittsburgh Courier Man of Excellence Award. He received his MBA from Robert Morris University, BS in Business Administration from University of Pittsburgh, and an AS from Community College of Allegheny County. He is a graduate of Leadership Pittsburgh LDI XV. In his spare time, he enjoys singing, reading, acting, working out, line dancing, and watching his sons’ sporting activities. He has three sons: Elijah, Daylon, and Isaiah and has been married to his beautiful wife Marcia for over 20 years. He is a motivational speaker and in the process of writing his first book.