Carla is a high school senior from Newport Harbor High School who plans to attend college.

If you knew Carla two years ago, this would be surprising. During her sophomore year, Carla was struggling in school. Her teacher, who believed her failing grades were related to housing insecurity, referred her to a nonprofit organization working on campus in partnership with the school to serve students experiencing homelessness.

The organization provided tutoring and worked with her teachers to help Carla recover her grades, and by her junior year, she was passing all of her classes. Simultaneously, Carla discovered a love for singing and earned a role in her school’s holiday production. Like many youth experiencing homelessness, she didn’t have a nice outfit for the performance but was able to get one through this partnership.

Stories like Carla’s remind us that it’s time to show up for our kids in real time — where they are — especially for our K-12 students experiencing homelessness.

In its 2020 report, State of Crisis: Dismantling Student Homelessness in California, the UCLA Center for the Transformation of Schools reported nearly 270,000 K-12 students in California experienced homelessness in the 2018-19 school year, enough to fill Dodger Stadium five times. These students represent approximately 4% of all K-12 students in the state, and they are disproportionately students of color. And these are pre-pandemic numbers. These are students just like Carla — who just need a little help to realize their potential.

Read a full article about supporting homelessness students by Jennifer Friend and Sean Boulton at EdSource.