Photo courtesy SORTA
The Everybody Rides Metro (ERM) Foundation is providing nearly 5,000 Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (Metro) bus tokens to help students attend Cincinnati Public Schools in partnership with Project Connect, an organization which helps homeless children regularly attend school.
“The ERM board unanimously approved supporting Project Connect to bring awareness to the needs of homeless children in Cincinnati,” said Joe Curry, ERM’s executive director. “Through Project Connect these children will get transportation to attend a familiar school throughout the year regardless of where they are living.”
An estimated 6,000 children experience homelessness in Greater Cincinnati each year. Consistent schooling is challenging for these students who may be in temporary housing or may have moved many times and are without the transportation to get to school.
The 5,000 tokens are possible because of the funds raised at the first annual Metro-TANK Tri-State Charity Basketball Shoot-Out on Feb. 26.
In addition to arranging transportation, Project Connect helps homeless children by clearing obstacles to enrollment and attendance at schools, providing school supplies, backpacks, uniforms and clothing, arranging access to free lunch programs and tutoring, and coordinating other educational resources.
“Children experiencing homelessness in Cincinnati are facing some incredible challenges, but this donation will make a difference,” said Pamula Thomas, director of Cincinnati Public Schools’ Customer Help Center, which includes Project Connect. “Homeless students are often two or three years behind in school. We hope to remove the barriers to a consistent educational experience.”
Founded in 1996, Project Connect provides advocacy paired with specialized educational services and lifestyle enrichment opportunities for children who have neither a voice, nor a choice, in being homeless.