September 22, 1997

Newly 18 and fresh out of foster care, I started my freshman year at Cleveland State University. Three years later, I was dropped out, after getting bad grades that convinced me I just wasn’t good enough, that I had no right to be there. Five years after that, I returned to finish my degree, and later, a master’s from the University of Southern California.

I wish I’d never dropped out, but I think that my five years checking “some college” on boxes were good for me.

Overall, from this day in 1997, until graduating in 2006, my bachelor’s degree took nine years to complete…and I did it with little help or consistent mentorship and guidance.

It didn’t have to be that way for me…and it doesn’t have to be that way for the 58,000+ homeless/aged out foster youth pursuing higher education today. This population’s SIX YEAR graduation rates hover under ten percent.

10%. Financial struggles are typically the greatest obstacles, but a lack of support and self-confidence aren’t far behind. Knowing that someone has a rooting interest in one’s success is more valuable than those with supportive family systems might realize.

We can do better. Through Homeless to HigherEd’s mentorship and support programs, we help our students rally from bad grades or minor mistakes of youth, and #keepgoing all the way to graduation day. We are rooting for you. All of us.

-Jessica.

There are over 58,000 homeless students in our colleges and universities today. Until quite recently, Student Zero and H2H co-founder James Ward was one of them. Congrats to James, his mother, and his younger siblings on moving into a home of their own last month. The entire family is no longer homeless!

There are over 58,000 homeless students in our colleges and universities today. Until quite recently, Student Zero and H2H co-founder James Ward was one of them. Congrats to James, his mother, and his younger siblings on moving into a home of their own last month. The entire family is no longer homeless!

How cool is it that my local Cleveland Browns Backers chapter is sponsoring Homeless to HigherEd this season? Almost took the sting out of that loss against the Steelers. 

Just thought I’d let you all know that Student Zero, James Ward, is safe and sound in his sophomore year at Howard University. He’s just changed his major and career focus. After a year with our new nonprofit and some summer work with another, James has decided to forge a career where he can effect real change in our country, and is now a political science major, with plans to attend law school. 

Thanks to the press we’ve received, more and more homeless college students are reaching out to us for help, telling their stories for what is often the first time. We can’t yet help them all as much as we’d like, but we have identified Student One and Student Two so far, and are excited to help them both as they start college this year. Thank you for your continued support of #homelesstohoward and #HomelessToHigherEd. We couldn’t do what we do without your continued generosity. 

http://homelesstohighered.org/donate-request-help/

Thanks for reading,
Jessica.

How cool is it that my local Cleveland Browns Backers chapter is sponsoring Homeless to HigherEd this season? Almost took the sting out of that loss against the Steelers.

Just thought I’d let you all know that Student Zero, James Ward, is safe and sound in his sophomore year at Howard University. He’s just changed his major and career focus. After a year with our new nonprofit and some summer work with another, James has decided to forge a career where he can effect real change in our country, and is now a political science major, with plans to attend law school.

Thanks to the press we’ve received, more and more homeless college students are reaching out to us for help, telling their stories for what is often the first time. We can’t yet help them all as much as we’d like, but we have identified Student One and Student Two so far, and are excited to help them both as they start college this year. Thank you for your continued support of #homelesstohoward and #HomelessToHigherEd. We couldn’t do what we do without your continued generosity.

http://homelesstohighered.org/donate-request-help/

Thanks for reading,
Jessica.

#homelesstohoward in People Magazine. It all started here on Tumblr…

Read the full story here: http://www.people.com/article/homeless-to-howard-teen-hero-james-ward

#homelesstohoward in People Magazine. It all started here on Tumblr…

Read the full story here: http://www.people.com/article/homeless-to-howard-teen-hero-james-ward

I wrote this on a piece of paper and got it inked onto my wrist this summer. Better has no finish line. This is my wish for all 58k homeless students in American colleges this year.

I wrote this on a piece of paper and got it inked onto my wrist this summer. Better has no finish line. This is my wish for all 58k homeless students in American colleges this year.

homelesstohoward:

When I first met James, in the spring of 2012, he was living with his mother and two younger siblings in a room at the Union Rescue Mission on Los Angeles’s Skid Row.

image

In a room full of excited and hyper kids, James immediately stood out from the other kids, with his soft-spoken air of…

ONE YEAR AGO TODAY!  <3

Homeless to Higher Ed is now accepting donations by mail!

You asked for it, we delivered!  

Don’t want to use PayPal?  That’s okay! 

Please make checks payable to:

Homeless To/Higher Ed

PO Box 1855

Studio City, CA 91614

The bonus of sending a check?  We get to keep every penny, and don’t have to pay any service fees.

Thanks as always for your support and generosity.

Homeless to Higher Ed is a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation dedicated to normalizing the college experience for the over 58,000 homeless college students in American universities.  Completely volunteer-driven, with no paid salaries, H2H raises awareness about the barriers to higher education facing our nation’s poorer students, while providing guidance, resources, and assistance to American students who need it most.

www.homelesstohighered.org

homelesstohoward:

Last year, before James’ loans were declined, I celebrated my 34th birthday back in my hometown…a day I never thought I’d see…with a low-key fundraiser.  All told, my friends and family raised $530 for James, with the intent of surprising him with it, so he could use it for random things kids tend to forget but still need.  That’s my beloved Grandma and me choosing the 50-50 raffle winner.  

When I later found out his loans were declined, I remember crying…I was so stupid to think that all he would need might be covered by this small amount of money.  Eventually, though, we found a way, when this Tumblr found its way to the screens of so many generous folks.

34, the year I thought I’d never see, has been, hands down, the best of my life.  From riding a motorcycle for only the second time since my father died on one in 1986, to getting James to college with #HomelessToHoward, to People Magazine, to launching a nonprofit to help other homeless kids…this has been one heck of a year…35 will be even better, right?

Of course it will be…James is fully-funded for all four years, and together, we now have a charity devoted to helping kids like him, like me.

So, in the spirit of that little hopeful birthday fundraiser, and all that’s come since then, I hope you’ll consider making a small donation to Homeless to Higher Ed, a 501(c)3 tax exempt public charity.  

We only need $325 more dollars to match the $530 raised in 2013.

Happy birthday to me.  Thanks for reading.  I’m sorry I’m always asking you guys for money.

I miss my Grandma.

Jessica.

Just $67 left to go to match last year’s fundraiser!

www.homelesstohighered.org/donate-request-help

On a regular basis, children and youth report that school is a home to them – a place where they see the same faces, sit in the same seat, and can put their hearts and minds into pursuits that ease their daily troubles. In school, students gain the skills and support needed to avoid poverty and homelessness as adults.
The National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth

Check ‘em out for amazing web resources.  NAEHCY does amazing work.

Last year, before James’ loans were declined, I celebrated my 34th birthday back in my hometown…a day I never thought I’d see…with a low-key fundraiser.  All told, my friends and family raised $530 for James, with the intent of surprising him with it, so he could use it for random things kids tend to forget but still need.  That’s my beloved Grandma and me choosing the 50-50 raffle winner.  

When I later found out his loans were declined, I remember crying…I was so stupid to think that all he would need might be covered by this small amount of money.  Eventually, though, we found a way, when this Tumblr found its way to the screens of so many generous folks.

34, the year I thought I’d never see, has been, hands down, the best of my life.  From riding a motorcycle for only the second time since my father died on one in 1986, to getting James to college with #HomelessToHoward, to People Magazine, to launching a nonprofit to help other homeless kids…this has been one heck of a year…35 will be even better, right?

Of course it will be…James is fully-funded for all four years, and together, we now have a charity devoted to helping kids like him, like me.

So, in the spirit of that little hopeful birthday fundraiser, and all that’s come since then, I hope you’ll consider making a small donation to Homeless to Higher Ed, a 501(c)3 tax exempt public charity.  

We only need $325 more dollars to match the $530 raised in 2013.

Happy birthday to me.  Thanks for reading.  I’m sorry I’m always asking you guys for money.

I miss my Grandma.

Jessica.