Building Bigger

Project Grow: A Haven for Homeless Children

Strengthening families with children in their pursuit of stability and self-sufficiency.

Adopt-A-Family’s Project Grow is Palm Beach County’s only afterschool/summer program specifically designed to meet the complex needs of elementary school students who have experienced the traumas of living with poverty and chronic housing instability. Project Grow focuses on academic support, emotional development, parental engagement, and life-enriching experiences. The classroom experience includes one-on-one tutoring; academic advising; reinforcement of the public school curriculum; snacks (and meals during summer camp); free on-site mental health counseling; social-emotional learning; and outdoor play. The program emphasizes Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) activities that boost critical thinking, promote self-confidence, and open students’ eyes to future career paths. For children who have grown up with chaos, stress, hunger, and (often) violence, Project Grow provides not only a safe, structured, and stable haven, but a place for its students to shine.

Project Grow is offered at little or no cost to students’ families, all of whom live in Adopt-A-Family supportive housing or in the surrounding high-poverty neighborhood. More than half of the funding for this program comes from grant support (36%) and through the allocation of unrestricted donations (19%) to Adopt-A-Family, Palm Beach County’s largest service provider for homeless and low-income families with minor children. A $25,000 grant award would fund essential program operating expenses such as bus/van maintenance and fuel; school supplies; STEAM activities; summer camp field trips; afterschool snacks; and salaries/benefits for the dedicated, longtime teaching staff. In addition, such a generous grant would reduce Project Grow’s reliance on precious unrestricted funds, which Adopt-A-Family could use in its work to provide affordable housing, case management, rapid re-housing, emergency shelter, and wraparound services for the 1,500 families Adopt-A-Family serves each year.

In 1992, Adopt-A-Family created Project Grow to provide childcare for families residing in its supportive housing programs. The agency soon recognized that these children needed more than daycare – they needed a complete curriculum intentionally designed to address the stresses, instability, and learning delays common to at-risk children. General education alone is insufficient for students who have experienced the upheaval of homelessness. Despite its best efforts, the public school system is generally not equipped to provide everything these students need. Project Grow effectively bridges the gaps, walking beside parents and changing the life trajectory for hundreds of students over the past 20 years. Adopt-A-Family believes the entire community is made better when all children – regardless of race, ethnicity, ability, or socioeconomic status – are valued, encouraged, and helped to understand that their contributions matter. Project Grow’s students have so much to teach the world.