Danielle Smith, Public News Service
In Pennsylvania, a unique mobile classroom brings education and support directly to unhoused youths.
More than 3,100 school-aged children in Allegheny County experienced homelessness during the 2021-2022 school year.
AJ Jefferson, CEO of the Homeless Children’s Education Fund, said thanks to the donors and corporate supporters, they were able to raise enough money to create “Winnie’s Wagon,” the first and only mobile classroom in western Pennsylvania. It is designed to support students experiencing homelessness.
Jefferson pointed out the van provides educational resources along with individual tutoring sessions for kindergarten through eighth grade students.
“It’s a dynamic vehicle filled with all of the technology needed,” Jefferson explained. “All of the school supplies, all of the learning tools that our students need to get excited about learning, to be excited about the possibilities of what learning can bring them.”
Jefferson noted Winnie’s Wagon is an extension of the organization’s Mobile Learning Program, which began during the pandemic in 2021, providing educational support to children who are unhoused.
Jefferson stressed they have two social workers dedicated to delivering wraparound services, meeting families’ immediate needs for necessities such as food and clothing and assisting them in securing appropriate housing solutions.
“Social workers, they utilize that van and go out and do home visits and making sure that families have everything that they need in order for that child or their children to continue to be able to move forward in education,” Jefferson emphasized.
Jefferson added they partnered with the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh for the design of the van. Inside are chalkboards mounted on the walls, robots, Kindles, iPads and many more educational supplies. Outside, the van includes an awning and movable furniture.
This article originally appeared on Public News Service and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.