Before they even graduate high school, thousands of students within Boston Public School experience homelessness. In an effort to address the need, the city has allocated $1.2 million to be dispersed throughout the district this year.
"A million is major. It's major. You know what it is? It's the difference between the haves and the have-nots," said Dr. Lindsa McIntyre, headmaster of the Jeremiah E. Burke High School.
Within the student body of her Dorchester school, McIntyre said that nearly 40 students are currently homeless. Across the district, there are approximately 3,500 homeless students.
The new funding will be distributed to schools based on their need, allowing each one to decide how they want to spend the money. While it will vary, the district expects most schools to expand existing programs, many of which offer food and clothing to students in need.
"We want to give them a fair shot," said Dave Dorvilier, a program director at Youth Harbors.
The organization partners with several schools to help homeless students between the ages of 18-22 find stability and work. Dorvilier hopes the extra funding will allow them to increase their efforts across the district.
"We had 30 students who graduated last year across six schools," Dorvilier said, "Youth homelessness is a tragedy, and we really want to work to reverse that."
Thus far, their efforts appear to be working.
"It's kind of hard for a 17-year-old to be sleeping in a shelter and trying to go back to school at the same time," said Burke senior Raymond Jarvis.
Last year, Jarvis arrived in Boston from North Carolina to live with his sister. After she was arrested for drugs, he had nowhere to go.
"My mom has passed away. My dad left when I was kid," Jarvis explained. "Sometimes I would be like, 'Why don't I just commit suicide? Why don't I just kill myself?'"
But instead, Jarvis found hope through the staff at school. He joined the football team and worked to bring up some of his grades. As he prepares to graduate, he now hopes to enter the Marines.
"I'm already here. I made it. So, why should I stop?" Jarvis asked. "I'm very hopeful."
It's what McIntyre hopes for all her students struggling to balance their lives with education. Moving forward, she believes they will be able to reach even more of them.
"It's simply gratifying," McIntyre said. "To teach them to mitigate challenges that they're faced with daily, whether it's hunger or homelessness, it's amazing."