Project Cool 2015 is in full swing! Learn about easy ways to get involved, and mark your calendar for Volunteer Days.

This is an exciting time of year: flowers are blooming, days are longer, and Project Cool for Back-to-School is in full swing!!!

Two weeks ago a group of students from Concordia University in Portland finished off their week of service with Project Cool, sorting and counting supplies as we prepare for our summer volunteer days.  See below for more details.

Two weeks ago a group of students from Concordia University in Portland finished their week of service with Project Cool sorting and counting supplies to get ready for summer volunteer days. See below for more.

I have been waiting for Project Cool since I joined the Coalition back in September and am so excited it is finally here.  The work to make sure that students start off the school year with a new backpack and school supplies, just like their peers, is very important and further enhanced by the Understanding Homeless Students’ Educational Rights guide that each student receives.

I know that Project Cool would not be possible without the support, work, and some sweat while stuffing backpacks of our awesome Coalition supporters and volunteers and I’m looking forward to working with you this year. Ready to get involved? see how below!


Ready… Set… Go! Here are 5 ways you can get involved:

  1. Supply Drives. Now is a great time to start your own supply drive, and encourage others to do the same. You can use this Project Cool Supply Drive Flyer (with Wish List). Contact me if you’d like a tailored flyer. We hope you have fun with them, too — there are so many ways to be creative and think outside the box. For example, Northwest Honkers Baseball is set up to ask their game day patrons to donate school supplies in lieu of a gate fee during summer games.  RSVP to let me know if you can host a supply drive in the Spring or Fall. 
  2. Dental Donations. We need your help to reach out to Dentists for floss, toothbrush, and toothpaste donations. Do you have an upcoming dentist appointment, or is there a nearby dentist office in your community? Use our Dentist Letter to ask your personal or local dentist to donate supplies to Project Cool.
  3. Encourage your work, community group, bank, or faith organization to become a Project Cool Sponsor. Reach out to me to get more information.
  4. ‘Like’ Project Cool on Facebook, invite your friends to do the same, and share posts to boost our reach online. Every action makes a big impact.
  5. Mark your calendars for Volunteer Days in early July 2015.  During the first two weeks of July volunteers have fun counting, sorting, and organizing supplies to fill backpacks for distribution. We’d love your help, and we welcome groups! If you’d like to help or even arrange a group, then let me know

Thank You Students from Concordia University’s Alternative Break Leadership Experiences for an awesome day of service!

After a week of service work at Union Gospel Mission, Urban Rest Stop, and Operation Nightwatch, a group of six students and two leaders focusing on serving and and learning about homelessness, hunger, and youth poverty came to the Church of Hope to help sort donated supplies for Project Cool.  They worked with determination and we shared in conversation about their time in Seattle and what they had been learning.
New Shelves!!!Our new friends not only sorted and counted supplies, but also assembled new shelves!  If any of you have volunteered with Project Cool in the Church of Hope and seen our supply closet, you may know that it was definitely in need of shelves to help store donations.  Look how organized the space is now!  It brought smiles to Staff’s faces to see items neatly sorted.

This group of students is really special, they are going to make a difference in the world and I am fortunate we had the opportunity to work together and learn from one another.  When 1pm rolled around, our end time, the group was full into bundling and counting pencils and I said they could be done; they responded, “no”!  With determination they sorted every last pencil, a great example of knowing that their time can make a positive difference.  Thank you.  I will leave you with a few inspiring quotes that group members wrote on advocacy postcards after their hard (and extended) day’s work.

I hope to see you at volunteer days this July!

“My team and I from Concordia University have had the opportunity to spend the past week working with low income students and see that they have a huge need in so many areas that any assistance would be a huge gain.”

“I had the wonderful opportunity to help sort items with project cool. The homeless do matter!!”

“Every child deserves education and the resources they need to succeed
All people matter. We have to help each individual to transform our society into a better community”

Coalition Support helps the Homeless Student Stability Act stay Alive!

Katara Jordan of Columbia Legal Services shared the following message with supporters of the Homeless Student Stability Act (HB 1682), which is alive and well (currently scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate Committee on Early Learning & K-12 Education at 8am, Thursday, March 19).  She especially wanted to thank Coalition members for their great support, calls, and postcard signing which was critical to keeping this bill alive and moving.  

Keep calling in and letting your legislators know that our state needs better support for students experiencing homelessness and this is possible with the Homeless Student Stability Act! Visit our bill tracker for most up to date info.


Friends,

Friday, February 27 was critical in the fight to increase state support for homeless students. That morning, it appeared that the Homeless Student Stability Act would not receive a hearing in either the House or Senate budget committees. The 27th was the last day for bills to pass out of state fiscal committees. And generally bills must receive a public hearing before they are allowed to do so.

Your effort calling your Representatives helped us secure a public hearing in Appropriations on the Homeless Student Stability Act —a necessary step to increase state support for homeless students. You were genuinely instrumental in securing a hearing for this bill! THANK YOU!

 

We have even more exciting to news to share! On March 6, the House overwhelmingly passed HB 1682 (the Homeless Student Stability Act) in a vote of 82-16! Representatives Fey, Stambaugh, and Magendanz all gave great speeches on the importance of supporting homeless students and their families!

This bill would provide increased in-school support for homeless students as well as create new housing partnerships between school districts and community organizations. With this bill, we could not just shelter hundreds of families and children across the state – we could house them. The bill also requires, for the first time, that school districts across the state begin to identify unaccompanied homeless youth. While schools are already encouraged to do so, many simply report “0” unaccompanied homeless students. Columbia Legal Services, a non-profit legal organization backing the Homeless Student Stability Act, estimates that there are approximately 4,400 unaccompanied youth in our schools, more than 2,000 more than are actually identified.

That said, HB 1682 heads back to the Senate!

To keep this bill moving, your voice and action is needed to make sure HB 1682 becomes law. Please call to ask the Senate Committee on Early Learning and K-12 Education to give HB 1682 a hearing.

Simply call 1-800-562-6000 and leave this message for the operator:

“The Homeless Student Stability Act will result in short and long term savings, as well as better educational, health, and life outcomes for students and their families. Please support this important issue.” 

After you leave a message for your legislators, if you really want to go the extra advocacy mile, you can also directly call members of the Senate Committee on Early Learning and K-12 Education to give them the same message. The Senators labeled with two asterisks after their phone number are the most critical.

Education:

  • Senator Steve Litzow (360-786-7641)**
  • Senator Andy Hill (360-786-7672)**
  • Senator Bruce Dammeier (360 786-7648)**
  • Senator Rosemary McAuliffe (360- 786-7600)
  • Senator Andy Billig (360-786-7604)
  • Senator Joe Fain (360-786-7692)
  • Senator Mark Mullet (360-786-7608)
  • Senator Ann Rivers (360-786-7634)
  • Senator Christine Rolfes (360-786-7644) Senator Rolfes has been a huge champion. Please consider thanking her for her support

Best,

Katara Jordan, Staff Attorney, Columbia Legal Services, Children & Youth Project

katara.jordan@columbialegal.org | www.columbialegal.org
Connect with CYP: Website | Twitter |Schoolhouse Washington

Sign up for Columbia Legal Services newsletters and updates.

Help us spread the word about these fun, family-friendly events — all to support Project Cool!

There’s so much to love about Project Cool. One of my favorite parts is how it brings people together. For example, two groups – Northwest Honkers Baseball and Anything is Possible Theater – reached out to us because they wanted to support Project Cool at their upcoming summer events. Baseball, theater, and Project Cool? What lovely and fun partnerships!

I’m happy to announce these 5 fun, family-friendly community events, each to benefit Project Cool. Please help us spread the word about these great events!

#1  Robin HoodJoin us on June 21st for the Rainier Valley Cultural Center’s *Special Giving Night!* For one night only, your ticket will double as entry for the play and an after-play event. Theater fans will get the chance to gather under the stars for refreshments, beverages, and entertainment–all to benefit organizations working in our community to alleviate hunger and poverty–including the Rainier Valley Food Bank, Columbia City Church of Hope (Mary’s Place – Seattle), and Project Cool for Back-to-School. Don’t miss this wonderful production while supporting some great causes! Purchase your tickets here.

Where:3515 South Alaska Street, Seattle, WA 98118 // When: Saturday, June 21 @ 7PM

#2-5  The Northwest Honkers baseball team has graciously designated a handful of home games, where attendees can either purchase items from the Project Cool Wish List or pay a $3 gate fee, which will be donated to Project Cool. Join the Honkers on the following days to show your support:

  • Thursday, July 3rd  at 7 p.m. @ Kent Memorial vs. Laces
  • Tuesday, July 8th at 7 p.m. @ Kent Memorial vs. Studs
  • Thursday, July 17th at 7 p.m. @ Shorecrest HS vs. Merchants
  • Tuesday, July 22nd at 7 p.m. @ Kent Memorial vs. PBC Zips

Wanna help spread the love? Share this flyer with your networks: 2014 Project Cool Events_HonkersRobinHood

Project Cool 2014 is in full swing!

Project Cool Meme 2014

The cherry blossoms are blooming, the Mariner’s had their first at-home game of the season, and the sun is finally out in full force. With all these new beginnings, it’s a natural time to start Project Cool for Back-to-School, our Coalition’s beloved backpack and supply drive to support homeless students!

Learn more about Project Cool on our website, and keep reading to find out how you can get involved over the next few months to support homeless students through Project Cool.

Ready… Set… Go!

Here are 4 ways you can get involved:

  1. Supply Drives. Now is a great time to start your own donation supply drive, and encourage others to do the same. We hope you to have fun with them — there are so many ways to be creative and think outside the box. For example, Northwest Honkers Baseball will ask their game day patrons to donate school supplies in lieu of a gate fee during summer games. Use this Project Cool Supply Drive Flyer (with Wish List). Contact me if you’d like a tailored flyer.
  2. Dental Donations. We need your help to reach out to Dentists for floss, toothbrush, and toothpaste donations. Do you have an upcoming dentist appointment, or is there a nearby dentist office in your community? Use our Dentist Letter to ask your personal or local dentist to donate to Project Cool.
  3. Sponsorship. Encourage your work, community group, bank, or faith organization to become a Project Cool Sponsor.
  4. Facebook. ‘Like’ Project Cool on Facebook, invite your friends to do the same, and share posts to boost our reach online. Your action makes a huge difference!

And be sure to mark your calendars for Volunteer Days in early July 2014. During the first two weeks of July volunteers have fun counting, sorting, and organizing supplies to fill backpacks for distribution. We’d love your help, and we welcome groups! If you’d like to help or even arrange a group, then let me know.

Thank you for all you do to support Project Cool students!

 

What does it take to fill nearly 1,300 backpacks?

What does it take to fill nearly 1,300 backpacks? A lot of planning, a lot of supplies, a lot of backpacks, but most of all A LOT OF FANTASTIC VOLUNTEERS!

Nyree and a pile of backpacksDuring our five volunteer days, we had over 90 volunteers help stuff backpacks for nearly 1,300 homeless children. We had volunteers from age 4 – age 70+ volunteer with Project Cool this year to make sure that every homeless child served by Project Cool could go back to school in September equipped with the same tools for success as every other child in his or her class. Our youngest volunteers were truly some of the best volunteers, they worked hard and had excellent attitudes, even through the long 3 hour shifts when they had to carry heavy backpacks up long flights of stairs. One of our youngest volunteers even came up and asked me, “Can I volunteer with you again soon?” I told her that we would be happy to have her again next year, and she quickly told me, “But next year is SOOOOO far away!”

Bundling pens and pencils (5)Project Cool is truly a volunteer-powered project, and without these fantastic, hard-working, and enthusiastic volunteers, we would not be able to provide something so critical – a brand new backpack with school supplies – at the beginning of the school year to 1,300 homeless children in preschool – twelfth grade.  The gift of a new backpack gives both the parents and the kids one less thing to worry about – the parents don’t have to worry about one more thing to purchase that they can’t afford, and the kids don’t have to worry about being stigmatized at school because they can’t afford the right supplies or a backpack.

Bev and Steve from Windermere stuffing pre-k backpacksEven though the backpacks are all stuffed, Project Cool isn’t over yet! As you are shopping with your kids for their school supplies, think of ways that you might be able to support Project Cool through a school supply drive. We are already beginning to gear up for next year, and the best time to do that is when everything is on sale. If you would like to host a supply drive or find out how to host a supply drive, contact Kathryn Murdock, 2013 Project Cool Coordinator (projectcool@homelessinfo.org).

1,204 Homeless Children Ready for School Thanks to Project Cool

Be Cool! Project Cool for Back to School 2012 Buttons

After months of preparation, we are celebrating the smooth and successful distribution of 1,204 Project Cool backpacks to homeless children across King County. This August, more than 150 awesome volunteers gathered together over 4 days in the basement of the Columbia City Church of Hope to prepare school supplies and then fill and distribute backpacks for homeless students ages 3 to 18. You guys ROCK! Last Tuesday, Project Cool backpacks went out to 14 different Coalition member agencies to support the education of the children they serve in their various homeless housing programs (including emergency shelter and transitional housing).

We know the need is great. In the 2010-2011 school year, 4,423 students (pre-k through high school) were identified as homeless in King County school districts; 26,049 students across all Washington State schools. This was a 19% increase from the previous year and a 55% increase from 2006-2007 (for more information visit http://schoolhousewa.org/). A new backpack filled with the tools students need tells kids that they belong and gives parents one less financial burden to bear.

Backpacks may be out the door, but the work to support the education of homeless students does not stop here. Seattle Public School starts in just a couple weeks on September 5. The instability of homelessness makes stability in school that much more important for children. Luckily, homeless students have several educational rights under an important federal law – the McKinney Vento Education Act –, which helps advocates and families keep children in school even if they don’t have the right paperwork to enroll or their address changes every 60 days. The Coalition’s August 22 “Helping Homeless Students: McKinney Vento 101” training will prepare school personnel and service providers to help homeless students stay in school.

Eric joined us on August 11 with the RBUCC Youth Group. Filling hundreds of backpacks with school supplies can be tiring work!

None of this work could be possible without the support of the hundreds of individuals who hosted donation drives, donated personally, and volunteered to help prepare backpacks. Project Cool is a volunteer driven project – coordinated by an AmeriCorps VISTA and supported by people like you: concerned community members, local businesses, and Coalition members. A BIG THANK YOU to everyone who came out on August 2, 4, 11, and 14 to help prepare Project Cool backpacks – we welcomed the passionate help of many community members including several old hats and Project Cool newbies like the Redmond Beach UCC Youth Group and members of local non-profit young professionals group, Ascend. THANK YOU!