November is National Homeless Youth Awareness Month. In honor of this important month, we’re spotlighting Karla Tobias, an integral member of the IDEA Team & Family who works every day to help spread awareness of the effects of homelessness on many American families and share important resources for those who may be experiencing it.
What IDEA school did you graduate from?
IDEA Mission College Preparatory. Go Phoenix!
As a student, how did IDEA prepare you for college and a career?
I was fortunate to have amazing teachers and leaders who cared deeply for their students. I could not have asked for a better support system. IDEA Mission Team & Family, if you are reading this, thank you for the support and guidance throughout my years as an IDEA student—I appreciate you.
IDEA does have a rigorous curriculum. However, I am certain those challenging years filled with homework, projects, and exams helped prepare me for the rigor of college.
Additionally, IDEA’s Core Values have played a huge factor in my career—I still remember them (during my years as an IDEA student) and apply them in my life both professionally and personally. “No Excuses”, “100% Every Day”, “Sweat the Small Stuff”, “Team & Family”, and “Closing the Achievement Gap.” I truly believe as a student; we don’t consider the privilege of having a free education or the support system IDEA provides. Thank you, IDEA! These 5 Core Values shaped me into a driven, compassionate, determined, and committed adult.
As an IDEA alumna, why did you come back to work for IDEA?
Upon being fully prepared to launch into my new college educational journey, I was excited to return and give back to my community which has contributed so much to my success. I felt my passion and purpose had aligned and come full circle for me. I am grateful to see the value of my work in establishing behind-the-scenes systems of support that impact the quality of our students’ lives.
One of the many components of your work as the Student Empowerment Team Project Manager is to utilize federal grant funding to provide students experiencing homelessness with supplies, hygiene materials, shoes, and other important resources. What makes this work both challenging and rewarding?
I was blessed with the leadership opportunity of serving as our district’s McKinney Vento Liaison in efforts to support our students who are experiencing homelessness across all IDEA schools in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and Ohio. Executing this large initiative requires investment, planning, preparation, and holding a vision of timely responsive services that entail their own complex challenges. With our high standards of excellence, I ensure a student’s social-emotional learning is supported and students experiencing homelessness have the resources they need. The rewarding part of my work is that I can provide intervention for students receiving support and overcoming obstacles they endure. These students have hope, and grit, and they are students who will excel in their studies. They are bright stars, and I am confident of that!
What message should we be sharing and promoting during National Homeless Youth Awareness Month?
Annually, at least 4.2 million young people in the U.S. experience homelessness. Our district goal is spreading educational awareness and initiatives about the multi-level impact of homelessness. Many individuals are unaware of the different circumstances and situations that can classify a student as eligible for benefits and resources under homelessness.
For students experiencing homelessness, school is most likely the only safe and consistent space they know. It’s important we keep our schools emotionally safe, inviting, and comfortable. Lastly, help share awareness on campus by posting flyers/posters, and/or creating awareness campaigns.
Please see these tips below:
- Wear purple one day in November
- Organize a food drive and/or clothing drive (uniforms)
- Organize a fundraiser
- Partner with community partners for donations (hygiene products, supplies, undergarments, etc.)
- Create fact signs and display in hallways
- Display McKinney Vento posters in hallways and front office for student and parents
- Encourage high school students to volunteer at a soup kitchen or shelter as community service hours
The message we should be spreading is being more empathetic and considerate of others experiencing these hardships and providing any act of kindness emotionally or physically to create a strong system of support stronger together! To learn more about McKinney Vento, check out our blog! #TeamAndFamily