After sitting vacant for the past five years, the Fannie C. Harris Elementary School building will soon be a home for homeless students in the Dallas Independent School District.
"My desire for them is hope, and that this center and this opportunity gives them hope for a better tomorrow — a better future," said Dallas ISD Trustee Bernadette Nuttal.
This new shelter is in her district, District 9. An 8-0 vote Thursday night by the Dallas ISD Board of Trustees approved the 35-bed shelter for students aged 14 to 21.
"Imagine being a teenager, and every day after school you have no security, no support system," Nuttal said.
The shelter will offer some of that missing support — from tutoring, job training and social services, to food, clothing and a safe place to sleep at night.
The project is the result from several key partners under the "After8toEducate" umbrella. A press release from the organization stated, "After8toEducate offers a comprehensive solution to allow unsheltered high school students an opportunity to develop academically, emotionally, and socially. After8toEducate was formed through Social Venture Partners Dallas and harnesses the strengths of DISD and nonprofit agencies CitySquare and Promise House in a first-of-its-kind venture to holistically address the needs of unsheltered Dallas youth."
Nuttal explained that Promise House will use its expertise as a youth shelter to run this new location. Meanwhile, CitySquare will run the drop-in-center, which will have a separate entrance into the same building.
The drop-in-center will provide food, clothing, hygiene products, showers and laundry service to Dallas ISD students in need.
"We are better together. So by all of these partners coming together, it's going to make a better Dallas, a better student, just a better life for them," Nuttal said.
Their goal is to not only improve academic outcomes, but also improve the life outcomes of these homeless teens.
The shelter is expected to be open in time for the 2018-2019 school year, or even earlier.
To fund this effort, the district would pay around $135,000 per year to keep the building running, while After8toEducate would raise $2 million to renovate the building and then would raise more money later to fund programming and other support items for the students.
A community forum is scheduled for Nov. 13.