On Truly Accessible Learning

Among industrialized nations, the United States has the largest number of homeless women and children with 60% of homeless women having a child under the age of 18 (The Urban Institute, 1999). Over the past decade alone, the number of homeless children has swelled from 1.5 to 2.5 million (The National Center on Family Homelessness, 2014).

What does education look like for students who find themselves on the streets? Children experiencing homelessness are four times more likely to show delayed development, and develop learning disabilities at twice the rate of non-homeless children. While initiatives like the McKinney-Vento Homelessness Assistance Act have given homeless children a greater chance of achieving educational stability, performance analysis reveals that only 21.5% and 24.4% of homeless students are proficient in math and reading. Scores worsen for high school students, with 11.4% and 14.6% proficiency in math and reading (National Center on Family Homelessness, 2009). These statistics represent a fundamental human rights issue because an effective education is essential for the exercise of all other human rights. Indeed, it empowers people to exercise their freedom, participate in the body politic, and achieve their potential.

Learn to Be exists for the express purpose of bridging these educational disparities via access to quality educational assistance wherever it is needed. The incorporation of technology combined with strategic partnerships is helping Learn To Be provide truly accessible learning opportunities for those who need them most in order to close the education gap for homeless students in innovative new ways. Imagine a tutor from Iowa, sitting at a cafe on a portable device, helping a homeless student at a Los Angeles shelter learn his multiplication facts through the LTB online platform. Or a college student in her dorm in Austin helping a student at an elementary school in LA learn how to read.

This is what Learn To Be tutors have been doing since 2009. Our tutors are like-minded individuals committed to quality education who continue to help students through our university chapters, and more recently, unique partnerships with primary schools.

With Schools on Wheels, for example, Learn to Be has begun offering online tutoring sessions to bridge the educational gap in homeless students in the state of California — where 300,000 children experience homelessness each year ranking it among the worst states in the country (The National Center on Family Homelessness, 2014). Homelessness prevents these children from getting the academic stability and help they desperately need. Together, Schools on Wheels and Learn To Be work one-on-one with children in grades 2 through 8 on basic math, reading, writing, and science several times a week.

The core of our efforts stem from the tutors who come from all backgrounds and professions, with a shared goal — to reach out to a child, to teach, to mentor, and assist in their educational life. Interested in helping? We always need more motivated, capable volunteer tutors to help students & support the backbone of our organization.

Click here to volunteer!

Ready. Aim. Teach.

-The Learn to Be Team