OATHS - Organization Assisting The Homeless Student

OATHS is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded by Ben Skinner to help homeless students get what they need to enjoy, succeed, and stay in school. The goal of OATHS is to provide homeless students support for educational success.

The OATHS Vision

Homeless students will suffer no disadvantage as a result of the conditions in which they live.

The Story of OATHS

Ben Skinner, OATHS founderDuring the 2009 holiday season I was having the typical “how was your day” conversation with my mom, a junior high teacher, when I asked her “Are your students getting excited for Christmas break?” Her response shocked me. She said, “No, some of them prefer school because they don’t have houses to go home to.” I couldn’t believe it, teenagers my age who were homeless. She also told me that they were going to school without the things that most other students have. They have few school supplies, inadequate clothing, and no money for anything extra like backpacks, calculators, athletic shoes, musical instruments, computers and the other things my friends and I take for granted.

That was when I started to think about finding a way to help homeless students. I found out there were thirty homeless students in my mom’s school, nearly 800 in the city of Boise, over 2400 in the Treasure Valley and over 4000 in the State of Idaho.  There are also over one million homeless students in America today.  After doing additional research I discovered the problems that homeless students have including high dropout rates, frequent switching of schools, and poor academic performance. It was then that I decided to start an organization that would help them. After playing with the words and trying to find a meaningful acronym, I decided to call this organization OATHS which stands for Organization Assisting The Homeless Student. An organization led by students encouraging others to take an OATH to help students who happen to be homeless. Students can take an OATH to help fellow students. Companies and foundations can take an OATH to donate money as well as goods and services that homeless students need to succeed in school.

OATHS is now in its fifth year and the response has been phenomenal. We have raised over $175,000 through fundraising activities, competitive grants, and through our online website at takeanoath.org. OATHS has provided over 2,000 students from over 60 different schools 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, shoes, swimsuits, bicycles, caps and gowns, school supplies, dress shirts, soccer balls, volleyball equipment, tennis rackets, MP3 Players, cameras, art supplies, umbrellas, tap shoes, rain boots, welding supplies, jeans, haircuts, Scrabble, Leap Frog Activity Books, basketball shoes, football shoes, 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, athletic, and YMCA camps, go to their high school prom, and take Driver’s Education.   In addition OATHS has partnered with the Treasure Valley YMCA to provide free memberships for local homeless students.

OATHS has also recruited over 500 local students to join our campaign to help students who are less fortunate than we are. Our goal is to help as many homeless students as possible so that they will enjoy school, succeed in school, and most importantly stay in school. Please join us!

Ben Skinner 
Founder and President of OATHS
Ben Skinner founded OATHS when he was a sixteen-year-old sophomore at Bishop Kelly High School in Boise, Idaho.  He now attends Georgetown University where he has started the first collegiate chapter of OATHS in Washington D.C.  His goal is to someday make OATHS a national organization.