As the number of homeless families with children continues to grow across Central Florida, Heart of Florida United Way (HFUW) was recently chosen to administer a $400,000 multi-year grant awarded by the prestigious Siemer Institute for Family Stability.
Targeted at assisting at-risk families and children – and thus reducing student mobility ‒ the grant will help fund homeless services programs at three United Way partner agencies, including Catholic Charities of Central Florida, the Osceola Council on Aging and Pathways to Home, serving Seminole County.
In addition to supporting United Way’s focus on preventing homelessness, the grant also aligns with HFUW’s strategic priorities to improve education and families’ financial stability.
Growing Wave of Homeless Families
“Families with children continue to be the fastest-growing segment of the homeless population in Central Florida,” said Robert H. (Bob) Brown, Heart of Florida United Way President and CEO. “The funding provided through these grants will contribute positively to community-based programs helping those Central Floridians most at risk of facing homelessness and other difficult issues.”
Based in Columbus, Ohio, philanthropists and entrepreneurs Al and Barbara Siemer, majority owners of the Desco Corporation, have been assisting families in crisis through their foundation and institute since 2003. Their efforts first focused on United Ways in Sarasota, Florida, and Columbus, but now include 18 United Ways around the country.
Resolving Issues that Cause Homelessness
The goal of the Siemer Institute for Family Stability is to support at-risk families so their children may remain in the same school, giving them the best chance for academic success. The program targets neighborhoods and schools with high student mobility rates often triggered by unstable living conditions. It creates lasting change by addressing and resolving issues that can push families with school-age children to the brink of homelessness.
“We know that keeping families stable and in their homes has a large, positive effect on helping kids succeed in school,” said Barbara Siemer. “The family stability initiatives we have invested in are effective ways of addressing this crucial issue, and we are confident that the Institute can use the expertise and relationships of the United Way system to truly make this a national model.”