Giving Compass' Take:

• A new school in Oklahoma City is designed specifically for homeless kids to help them learn socialization skills and feel more comfortable in a school setting. 

• What can donors do to ensure their local school districts are supporting the homeless student population?

• Read about how schools are coping with the growing homeless student population. 

At a new school for homeless children in Oklahoma City, there’s a “food lab” where children who don’t have access to a kitchen of their own can learn to cook along with their parents. Down the hall, there’s a washer and dryer they can use if they’ve come to school with dirty clothes. In another wing of the building, parents get help finding housing, food, and jobs.

The campus, which will open in September, is a new facility for a unique nonprofit focused on helping kids who might otherwise struggle in public schools catch up so they can reenter mainstream classrooms.

“We want to take children who are chronically homeless, children who are a couple of years behind academically and socially, families who are living in a lot of chaos, and we want to work with the children to get them up to speed academically and socially,” says Susan Agel, the executive director of the nonprofit, called Positive Tomorrows.

The nonprofit has operated its tuition-free private school out of classrooms on a smaller property since 2002, but the new school was purpose-built for the needs of homeless children.

The school also tries to recreate a sense of home. As kids enter the building, they’ll walk into the cafeteria, renamed the family room, and smell food cooking. The playground is called the backyard. There’s a small gathering area in front called the front porch. The vocabulary, like the cooking lessons that the school offers, is a small way to introduce children to parts of the world that they may not yet have experienced.

Read the full article about school for homeless kids by Adele Peters at Fast Company