Bringing School Home (BSH) is an innovative housing and education consultancy. We provide technical assistance, support, and inspiration to public housing authorities and other affordable housing providers in becoming an active partner in closing the achievement gap for vulnerable youth.
BSH seeks to transform the homes and communities of the children and families living in public and affordable housing into stable and supportive environments of learning and growth. We believe that every public and affordable housing provider in the country should mobilize and catalyze its resources to support parents and children, eliminate barriers to healthy development and academic success, and, in turn, close the achievement gap and break the cycle of poverty.
The affordable housing sector is home to the most vulnerable children in America. Many of these children struggle or fail to meet crucial academic milestones, graduate high school and post-secondary school, and achieve career success. However, public housing authorities and affordable housing providers are uniquely positioned to be a critical partner to educators; they can create a stable and supportive environment that enables learning 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
On most public and affordable housing campuses in the United States, there is the potential to turn every laundromat into a library; every parent interaction into a teachable moment; every client engagement into a book exchange; every community clubhouse into a classroom; every service coordinator into an education navigator; every housing application into a library card application. The potential is almost limitless.
We want to capture and catalyze this limitless potential by inspiring and supporting housing authorities and other affordable housing providers to create supportive and stable learning environments for low-income children and families. With approximately 10 million children living in public and affordable housing in the United States, BSH can help housing providers offer a critically needed place-based intervention in closing the achievement gap and breaking the cycle of poverty.
From a local program...
Bringing School Home is a new organization, but it is inspired and informed by the practice and success of a 20-year-old program established in Boulder, Colorado by Boulder Housing Partners (BHP), the city's public housing authority, and the I Have A Dream Foundation (IHAD), a non-profit organization that provides mentoring and educational support programs for low-income children. The Boulder-based program, also called Bringing School Home (BSH), is Boulder Housing Partners’ investment in the belief that public schools will succeed in graduating self-sufficient, employment-ready young adults only with the reach and resources that public housing can provide.
When BHP and IHAD began their partnership in 1997, BHP had a more passive role: it simply dedicated a corner of their properties' laundry rooms for use by IHAD's mentors and program participants who lived in the properties. Over the years, the benefits of situating IHAD programs in public housing became increasingly apparent, and BHP took a more active role in developing BSH into the program it is today. Over the last 20 years, BHP has invested significantly in the educational success of its youth residents by being an educationally-enriched home base for a range of interventions that support and connect parents of young children to early, and lifelong, education resources.
A similar 20-year home-based educational support program in New York City carried out in partnership by the New York City Housing Authority and IHAD has also laid the foundation for our work. Both of these partnerships have had a proven impact in improving the academic achievement of youth living in public housing. For instance, in Boulder, 92% of program participants graduate from high school, compared to 63% of their peers. These programs have pioneered our model of using affordable housing as a platform for the educational support program of a community organization.
To a national model
In her roles as Deputy Director and, more recently, Executive Director of Boulder Housing Partners for 20 years, Betsey Martens led the development and implementation of the Bringing School Home program in Boulder. Now, Betsey wants to take this successful model beyond Boulder and NYC to housing providers across the country. In 2015, Betsey began a fellowship with the Boston-based Affordable Housing Institute (AHI) to receive their technical support in scaling up the Bringing School Home model to ultimately reach all children living in public or affordable housing in the United States. AHI, led by CEO David A. Smith and Principal Anya Brickman Raredon, continues to be a core member of the BSH team today. To fully commit to the expansion of this model, Betsey stepped down from her position at Boulder Housing Partners in June of 2017. Soon after, she founded Bringing School Home, a consultancy that provides technical assistance, support, and inspiration to other housing providers seeking to adopt the Bringing School Home model.