The CLASS Act

Centering Learning Around Student Stability

 
According to Wilder Research, 6,500 children are homeless across Minnesota on any given night. Not having a safe and stable place to call home is hard. And for thousands of Minnesota school children experiencing homelessness, the difficulties of their housing situation carries into the classroom.
Wilder has been working to study, understand, and bring an end to child homelessness for decades. Between Wilder Research, Family Supportive Housing Services, children’s mental health services, our Child Development Center, the Twin Cities Mobile Market, our school-based initiatives, and more – we see the impact of homelessness on children every single day.
We understand that the stability of families, housing and schooling are intrinsically linked in the life of a child. Wilder is engaging multiple areas of experience and expertise from across the organization to lead a new legislative coalition effort: The CLASS Act. Centering Learning Around Student Stability, or CLASS, invests in the academic success of our future workforce by providing safe and stable housing for families, so students can thrive in the classroom.
 
Saint Paul Promise Neighborhood parents at a legislative briefing at Wilder Center in July 2015.
Saint Paul Promise Neighborhood parents at a legislative recap at Wilder Center

Highly Mobile Student Rental Assistance Pilot Program

Over the past three years, the governor and legislature have funded a pilot project aimed at improving school attendance by providing rental assistance for families of highly mobile students in three pilot sites – Saint Paul, Minneapolis, and Moorhead.
Wilder’s Family Supportive Housing Services was selected as the rental administrator to work with parents in the Saint Paul Promise Neighborhood. As a place-based initiative, Promise Neighborhoods advance a “cradle-to-career” approach centered on the student, their family, and their community. If kids aren’t able to stay in the same school and their family in the same neighborhood, it negatively impacts the odds of success for the young scholar.
Through the pilot project, Wilder Housing, Saint Paul Promise Neighborhood, and the Cultural Wellness Center have collectively worked with over 100 families. The families have seen marked improvements in their housing stability and safety. Across all three pilot sites, 90 percent of the students with a known housing status had stable housing upon completion of the pilot. When families secure stable housing, kids are going to do better in school.
 
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Legislative Advocacy

In 2015, Wilder and our partners successfully led efforts at the legislature to extend the pilot year funding for an additional two years, allowing critical time to work with families and track outcomes. Parent leaders in the Saint Paul Promise Neighborhood were a consistent and powerful voice at the Capitol throughout the legislative process. They provided a steady presence and leadership as they met with legislators, testified and advocated in other ways.

2017 Legislative Session

As the pilot comes to a close, Wilder and our coalition partners will be taking our case to the Capitol in an effort to secure an ongoing state investment of $10 million every two years to expand the effort to additional communities across the state. It’s a smart and strategic multi-generation approach to stabilize families, homes, and schools while investing in our future workforce.
By leveraging resources across research, direct service programs, capacity building, and public policy, Wilder is living out our core values of responsiveness, innovation, and effectiveness as we work to ensure every student in Minnesota has a safe and secure place to live and opportunities to succeed in the classroom.

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