About CapCityKids' programs

From our experiences in working with the Austin Independent School District (AISD) and consulting with education experts working on the problems that homeless students face, CapCityKids has identified three critical hurdles:

  • Maintaining grade level skills - Families in crisis frequently move from school to school and even district to district. In fact, more than 40% of these kids are likely to attend two or more different schools in the course of the year. In addition to the basic stress of such instability and change, the vagaries of differing levels of acceptance and program flexibility in different environments, and differing and often contradictory curriculum and program objectives often conspire to make it difficult for students to keep pace with their peers.
  • Meeting basic personal needs - For homeless children, clothes, supplies, classroom fees and miscellaneous expenses become extraordinary burdens. Without these basic needs, the social pressures alone can make the classroom situation untenable for even the most resilient students.
  • Logistics - Basic transportation to and from school is a challenge for homeless families. After school activities such as clubs, tutoring, and appointments with counselors are simply not options for families whose most urgent priorities are finding a safe place to sleep and a meal for the day.

Finding solutions

In addition to transportation, school supplies and other support services, this budget provides grants to AISD for pilot programs aimed at discovering and implementing effective practices and procedures to minimize these hurdles.

Here is an overview of the programs CapCityKids supports:

  • Shelter tutors - CapCityKids launched a unique tutoring program at Safeplace, an emergency women's shelter. The tutoring program provided over 640 hours of tutoring for school aged children living in the shelter during the school year. By placing tutors directly in the students living environment, the assistance is more accessible and relevant to the students’ lives, and thus more effective in bringing about a positive impact on their educational experience.  The tutors are either certified teachers themselves or working under the supervision of certified teachers.
  • Summer months - CapCityKids provides for academic enrichment opportunities focused on building reading and social skills. The pilot program allows our certified teacher/tutors to assess the students' skills, collaborate with the students' classroom teachers, and work one-on-one with students to target areas for improvement. Click here for a Q&A with a shelter tutor.
  • Teachers - CapCityKids funds a math specialist at Mathews Elementary to work with their homeless population and other at-risk students who are struggling academically. CapCityKids started working with Mathews Elementary in the 2006 – 2007 school year. Matthews has earned an Exemplary rating from the Texas Education Agency due to substantial increases in math scores by these students.
  • Social workers - CapCityKids piloted a social worker program that helped more than 50 homeless high school students stay and succeed in school.  This population of students typically has a high  need of support in accessing basic needs services such as food, clothing, and shelter.   The Licensed Master Social Worker identified academic, charitable and government programs and services that gave the students the opportunity to sustain academic progress and graduate from high school. This special pilot project has lead to a strategic collaboration between CapCityKids, AISD and the School of Social Work at The University of Texas in Austin.
  • Funding for services -
  1. CapMetro transportation for about 300 students a year to attend schools.
  2. Supplies, clothing, school activity fees and other support services.
  3. Support for experiences in the fields of art, music and physical fitness.
  4. Nutrition education and other life skills assistance at special events aimed at the students' needs and conducted in conjunction with AISD.

Recent events

The high level of participation, enthusiasm, and positive feedback from the students, parents and schools  has been encouraging.  As a result, we have already begun expanding our programs. The success of the shelter tutor program has prompted us to allocate additional funds that launched a similar program in the Salvation Army and the City of Austin Women’s and Children’s Shelter.

A far-reaching social worker program started in the 2009-2010 school year, identifying and serving a larger population of homeless students within AISD. A full time Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) supervises up to 10 interns from the University Of Texas School of Social Work.  These interns provide wrap-around services to identified homeless and at-risk students at school campuses throughout the city. Click for the story of one homeless student.

Another unique and innovative methodology pioneered by CapCityKids is the use of AISD’s existing administration, personnel and facilities for our programs to the maximum extent feasible.   Partly as a result of this strategy, CapCityKids has no salaried staff or administrative overhead.  CapCityKids has been able to direct 100 percent of your donations directly to providing assistance for the students.

Our short-term goal is to help AISD serve these students in crisis. Our long-term goal is to develop a proven set of "best practices" for supporting these children in their pursuit of an education. For more information about the collaboration, click here.