This afternoon, Secretary Cardona held a virtual roundtable with U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin (WV) and Patty Murray (WA) where they spoke with students who have experienced homelessness. The conversation came on the heels of the Department of Education (ED) announcing plans to distribute $800 million in American Rescue Plan funds to states to support students experiencing homelessness, particularly those disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. ED will distribute $200 million of the total funding to states on Monday.
The students in the roundtable ranged from ages 12-20 and represented seven different states. Event participants shared their personal experiences with the Secretary and the Senators, centering the conversation on lived experiences and how the critical funds in the American Rescue Plan will help other students in similar situations.
Secretary Cardona listened as students shared their stories:
"Among the issues that affect our students' ability to learn is the instability in where they're living, and homelessness is an issue that's critically important. It's hard to learn if you're wondering where you're going to be staying at night, or if there's no stability there and you don't have any support around that you. We need to make sure that our students can learn at high levels and addressing student homelessness is one of those issues that is critically important. All of you are stronger than most students in this country, and you're resilient. You're going to grow. It's our job to make sure we support you because you have so much to offer."
Sen. Joe Manchin discussed the importance of sharing these stories and providing relief for these students.
"It is vital to provide all of our young students with a platform to share their stories and experiences. I'm pleased the Department of Education is committed to helping our children and youth succeed in spite of the challenges they face. We all know, last year has added burdens for us all, especially our children currently experiencing homelessness, but we will get through this together, as we always do, by supporting our fellow Americans in need. Each and every one of you here today embody resilience, strength and determination."
Sen. Patty Murray thanked the students for sharing their experiences and applauded the designated funds in the American Rescue Plan that goes towards helping students who are experiencing homelessness.
"This past year has been so difficult for every student and parent and educator across the country. But what students who are experiencing homelessness have gone through is really unthinkable…So as a mom and a grandmother, my heart truly goes out to each one of you because these are struggles that no kid should have to bear. Please know, I want you to know, we're fighting for you. We hear you. You are not alone. We made sure that there is dedicated support in the American Rescue Plan."