The goal of OATHS is to provide homeless students support for educational success. We want to give them what they need to enjoy, succeed, and stay in school.
This is how OATHS works. Our first task is identifying homeless students. We have no direct way to find out which students are homeless, so OATHS partners with local school districts, state and local agencies, and homeless shelters to identify them. We are fully aware of the need to protect the privacy of homeless students and do not use their names, information, or photographs without the written consent of the students and their parents. Once the homeless students are identified, they are given our application forms either by their counselor, their shelter, or by going to our website and either downloading the form or applying online. The applications are then submitted to OATHS and the requests are filled as soon as possible. Sometimes we deliver the items to the school counselors and shelters, and sometimes we get to deliver the items directly to the homeless students. These have been the most rewarding moments of all because of the joy and appreciation expressed by the students we help.
In our first two years, OATHS provided over 700 local homeless students with the following items to help them be more successful in school:
Computers, backpacks, calculators, printers, books, thumb drives, musical instruments, basketballs, footballs, yearbooks, clothing, bicycles, helmets, caps and gowns, school supplies, choir uniforms, soccer balls, tennis rackets, MP3 Players, cameras, art supplies, car tires, umbrellas, tap shoes, rain boots, jeans, haircuts, educational toys and games, basketball shoes, football shoes, wrestling singlets, prom tickets, and passes to the Boise Art Museum, Discovery Center of Idaho, Basque Museum and Cultural Center, Idaho State Historical Museum, Idaho Black History Museum, Old Penitentiary Site, and Zoo Boise. We have also provided funds so that homeless students could take art and digital media classes, play Optimist football, attend academic and athletic camps, go to their high school prom, and take Driver’s Education. In addition OATHS has partnered with the Treasure Valley YMCA to provide a tutoring program and free memberships for local homeless students.
To fill the needs of the homeless students, OATHS has worked hard to raise funds. In our first two years we have raised over $65,000 through fundraising activities, competitive grants, and through our online website at takeanoath.org. OATHS is currently in the process of applying for foundation and corporate grants in anticipation of helping more homeless students in the upcoming school year.
We would like to acknowledge and thank the agencies and businesses that have supported and partnered with OATHS thus far:
- Treasure Valley YMCA
- City of Boise
- Boise School District
- Idaho Community Foundation
- JedSplit Design
- Lamar Advertising
- Westside Drive In
- Bishop Kelly History Club
- Bishop Kelly Youth Football Camp
- Computers for Kids, Inc.
- To The Nynes Men’s Store
- Idaho Sporting Goods
- Dunkley Music
- Eiguren Driving School
- South Junior High School
- Interfaith Sanctuary
- Corpus Christi House
- firecracker pop art+design
- Best Buy of Boise
- Idaho Women's Charitable Foundation
- Cantrill, Skinner, Sullivan & King
- Lunatic Fringe Hair Salon
- Elsaesser Jarzabek & Anderson
- Idaho Chiropractic Group
- Thornton, Oliver, Keller
- Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
- Idaho Youth Ranch
- Hays Shelter Home
- Bob’s Bicycles
- Boise Bicyle Project
- City Light Home for Women & Children
- Riverside Elementary School
- J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation
- St. Joseph’s Elementary School
- Charitable Assistance to Community’s Homeless (CATCH)
- Little Black Dress Club
- Western Mountain Bus Sales
Research has shown that homeless students are more likely to transfer schools and lack the tools necessary to be successful students. Homeless children are nine times more likely to repeat a grade, four times more likely to drop out of school, and three times more likely to be placed in special education programs than their peers who enjoy stable housing. They tend to have high rates of developmental delays, learning difficulties, and emotional problems as a product of uncertain living situations. Our goal is to try and reverse these trends one student at a time. Since we have been in existence for only one year, it is not possible to show that we have accomplished our goal. However, if just one homeless student enjoys school a little bit more, or gets a better grade, or gets to participate in a sport or play a musical instrument, or decides to stay in school and graduate because of OATHS, then we have fulfilled our mission. How does OATHS work? It works great!