The Berkeley School – Helping Homeless Kids

New Partnership With BOSS Children’s Learning Center

The Berkeley School began as the first Montessori school in Berkeley in 1963, and has since evolved into a school that employs Montessori principles and techniques as well as Reggio Emilia and Project Zero methodologies – all geared to give students a progressive education with a focus on civic education, helping students achieve their full potential as individual scholars, members of their local communities, and active citizens of the world.

In May of this year, the school reached out to BOSS to support the students in a march and rally they were organizing to raise awareness of local homelessness and programs that serve the homeless – BOSS’s Executive Director Donald Frazier spoke at the rally and was deeply impressed with the compassion and energy of the students. Since then we have worked to deepen our partnership with the school.

Most recently, this includes a new partnership between The Berkeley School and BOSS’s after-school Children’s Learning Center, which provides academic and developmental support to the homeless children and youth who are living temporarily at our Berkeley shelter (Ursula Sherman Village) with their families. The kids in the CLC are homeless and are dealing with physical, developmental or emotional challenges – many have experienced family separation, mental illness or substance abuse in the family, and other traumas in addition to homelessness. The CLC is staffed by a part-time Teacher, Jon-Mychal Cox, and volunteers.

Kate Klaire, the school’s Director of Civic Engagement, met with Jon-Mychal to talk about how the school could help the CLC. The CLC is challenged each day by the varying schedules of families, and the changing number and age range of the children who participate – anywhere from 8-20 kids engage in the CLC at a time, from toddlers to ‘tweens. The Berkeley School will be providing tools and advisory support to help the CLC refine its age-appropriate activities and enhance the stability/predictability of day-to-day routines.

Based on Jon-Mychal’s goal to increase the kids’ use of the computers available in the CLC, the school will also help set up learning software on the computers that are simple to learn and use. The school will also collect educational materials and healthy snacks!

TBS youth supporting the CLC with donated goods!

“We also talked about having a Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service in January,” says Kate. “It would be great to come in and do some work on the raised garden beds at the facility – so the kids can grow their own food!”

We are so excited to embark upon this new partnership, and are deeply grateful for the love and community leadership of The Berkeley School!

To donate gardening supplies, seeds or plants for an MLK Day of Service at the Village, contact Gwen Austin at gaustin@self-sufficiency.org or 510.649.1930 x 1001.

Donate to the CLC or other BOSS programs to help people overcome homelessness and poverty here.

The Children’s Learning Center is supported by the Bernard E. & Alba Witkin Foundation, The Morning Glory Family Foundation, and local donors.