Homeless Children's Education Fund

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

In the short period of time that the city’s Big Burgh mobile app, aimed at helping the homeless find resources, has been available, it has far exceeded usage expectations.

Launched at the end of August, the app has seen 11,000 site visits, said Bob Firth, founder of Informing Design, which created the app.

"To put that in perspective, the app of the entire region of Australian, with 23 million people in the same time period, got 20 percent fewer site visits,” Firth said. “The app for San Francisco, which has 850,000 people, got 35 percent fewer site visits."

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

It’s not always easy for a person to find basic services when they are homeless, according to Bob Firth.

“For example, Google, ‘free dental care Pittsburgh,’ and you will get 10,000 hits for a free dental evaluation, followed by $5,000 in work,” Firth said.

born1945 / Flickr

Homeless teenagers and young adults in Pittsburgh will soon have a drop-in center that will address a wide array of their needs.

The center will be called “412 Youth Zone” and will be targeted at youths between 16 and 24 years old, who are aging out of the foster care system. It will be located downtown in the Wood Street Commons building.

Local family agency Auberle will run the center and partner with other local agencies. They expect to serve about 1,500 young adults a year – that’s how many age out of the system.

Five Pittsburgh-area high school graduates were honored at an awards ceremony Tuesday for their achievements overcoming homelessness.

They each received $2,500 Hope Through Learning grants from the Homeless Children’s Education Fund, which caters to young adults who are experiencing or have experienced homelessness during their school attendance years and are going on to a higher education or a career training program for the first time.

Students attending 15 area charter schools collected $11,000 for the Homeless Children’s Education Fund to help ensure the estimated 3,000 homeless students in Allegheny County receive a proper education.

“The students grabbed the idea,” said Jeremy Resnick, executive director and co-founder of Propel Schools. “They did everything from penny wars between classrooms to putting on a big art show and selling tickets for it. There was just a huge range of activity across the schools that the students led, and it’s inspiring.”

Jessica Nath / 90.5 WESA

It has been more than a year since 20 first graders and six educators were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., but two organizations are keeping their memory alive by collecting and delivering books for the more than 1,700 homeless children in Allegheny County.

Grassroots organization HearYourselfThink collected new and gently used children’s books to commemorate those who died at Sandy Hook Dec. 14 2012.

The Challenges Of Suburban Homelessness and Education

Nov 21, 2013
Michael Lynch / 90.5 WESA


Guests include: Elizabeth Kneebone, Fellow at the Brookings Institution and co-author of Confronting Suburban Poverty, Chuck Keenan, administrator in Allegheny County's Bureau of Homeless Services, Kyoko Henson, a home and school visitor for the Penn Hills School District, Joe Lagana, founder and CEO of the Homeless Children's Education Fund, and homeless student Kevin Lee, winner of a national scholarship, with his mother Tamara Williams

There are nearly 20,000 homeless school age children in Pennsylvania and that’s a small portion of the 1.2 million across the country.

Local and national experts gathered in Pittsburgh on Friday for the fourth annual Homeless Education Network Summit to discuss an issue of rising concern: suburban poverty, homelessness and the challenge of education.

Since 2000, the number of poor people living in the suburbs grew by 64 percent. And today, about 16.4 million poor people are living in suburbs, compared to 13.4 million in the cities.

Allegheny County is no different.

In the Pittsburgh region alone, the suburban poverty rate increased 15.7 percent between 2000 and 2011; while the city saw a 6.3 percent increase.