Faces without Places bridges educational gap for homeless children

Without stability in education, Ramin Mohajer, executive director of Faces without Places, says homeless children’s chance of eventually breaking the cycle of poverty is virtually nonexistent.
Faces without Places provides educational programming and supplies, in addition to extracurricular opportunities, to the 6,000 children experiencing homelessness in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky each year.
“The average student experiencing homelessness is two to three years behind in education,” says Mohajer, who recognizes how important it is to work toward closing that gap.
Through programs like ZooMates, for example, children pair up with Xavier University students who provide mentorship and stability for those involved.
“Many children had never been on a college campus, and a few of them didn’t know anyone who had ever even gone to college,” Mohajer says. “So we had the students come up to Xavier University and take different tours. They did a science lab experiment, and that got them really excited about the prospect of going to college.”
In addition to experiencing life on a college campus, students learn science through a hands-on approach, while taking regular field trips to the Cincinnati Zoo.
“That’s been a really successful program for us,” Mohajer says. “It gives positive role models to kids—the kids can’t wait—they’re running up to the mentors, giving them all a hug, and it really ends up as a long-lasting, rich bond.” 

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By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia.